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Delivering design software to deadline

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Oilfield Technology,

High-quality design has always played a critical role in the success of the offshore oil and gas industry. It is something that many of the hundreds of thousands directly involved in the exploration, development and extraction of reserves may understandably take for granted. But, their lives and their livelihoods depend on the myriad of different businesses in the industry supply chain designing and manufacturing: everything from the smallest nut or bolt to the most sophisticated and complex subsea vessel.

Forty years ago, design technology was rudimentary at best. Most designers used pen and paper and if modifications were required to drawings, they would typically need to scrape the ink off the paper and redraw them. Fast forward to today and everything has changed. CAD is now standard across the industry. Parametric 3D modelling systems are becoming more widely used. And the latest technology allows designers to create, visualise and then test and analyse products using analytics, minimising the need for expensive prototypes. When a revision is made the software automatically updates the rest of the design. As a result, users can easily and quickly try different options, changing not just the geometry of the product but also experimenting with different materials as appropriate.

Delivering quality design

New technologies and methodologies in digital design are now not only enabling better quality product designs to be produced faster, but the accurate data generated as a result of the design process is now being used across the whole business to help improve a host of functions from sales and marketing to financial decision-making. 

In today’s oil and gas industry, this kind of technology is increasingly critical as demands on design and engineering teams are high. Rising need for energy, ageing assets, fast-changing oil and gas prices and the cost of improving capacity are making it more and more important to deliver projects on time and to budget.

From theory to practice

As an engineering design and consultancy business, specialising in the offshore oil and gas and renewables markets, Country-Durham-based Ardmore Craig is well aware of these challenges. It provides services ranging from concept development through to detail design, verification and manufacturing support. Services are carried out on behalf of customers ranging from oil majors such as BP to utility companies like Eon, along with offshore contractors and other consultancy houses.

Design quality is key but so too is the efficiency of the process with many of Ardmore Craig’s projects required in extremely short timeframes, with the design lifecycle - from the generation of a concept through to the issuing of manufacturing drawings - measured in a matter of days. So, it is critical that the company is able to develop these drawings as quickly as possible.

Symetri has worked with Ardmore Craig since it was founded three years ago and have supported their use of the latest CAD design software from Autodesk to meet and overcome the design challenges they faced.

Ardmore Craig was clear from the outset that it wanted to use Autodesk Inventor 3D CAD software, as its primary design tool. It now has four dedicated licences and around eight users of the software at its headquarters in Newton Aycliffe, near Durham.

The company supplies a wide range of services, from consultancy to detail design and analysis and Inventor lets it produce everything from animations and renderings through to detailed manufacturing drawings. Ardmore Craig’s main challenge is delivering in rapid timescales – typically days from generation of a concept through to production of fabrication drawings, so a single package, which is versatile and quick to use is important. Inventor is ideal in this respect. It is easy to learn and users can rapidly obtain manufacturing drawings from the 3D model.

Ardmore Craig is now actively using Inventor for all of its design processes from visualisation through to 3D modelling, analysis, renderings and the creation of the fabrication, component and assembly drawings. It also makes use of Autodesk AutoCAD for vessel layout and naval architecture work.

Drawing on our own experience of the offshore oil and gas sector, we have helped streamline the roll-out of design tools at Ardmore Craig; provided additional software as and when required and provided support when they have needed to buy extra software seats.

Looking to the future, Ardmore Craig is planning to extend its usage of Autodesk 3D design software. It is looking at getting even more software seats and it is starting to explore some of the bolt-on packages that come with the Inventor suite. It is also looking into the possibility of implementing modelling, animation, rendering, and compositing solution, Autodesk 3ds Max. In the tough world of offshore oil and gas design engineering, these kinds of solutions will stand it in excellent stead.

Adapted by David Bizley

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