“Low-cost countries usually beat us on hourly rates for personnel. That is an important reason why the Norwegian industry is not a big player in the series production field. However, what we do lead the way in is producing parts and components in smaller series where very high demands are placed on quality, accuracy and precision.
Our production of coupling parts for the subsea industry are examples of such products. It also incorporates deliveries to the offshore industry. These are deliveries that have made Norway a world leader in underwater technology,“ says Ingvald Torblå who is CEO of Odda Technology.
The oil and gas industry has contributed enormously to the development of the Norwegian mechanical industry and, in so doing, has furnished other assignments to many downstream suppliers throughout the country.
“But it is not a given that this will continue on its own. We compete with companies all over the world, while the oil and gas companies are continuously looking for ways to reduce their costs. Norway is one of the world’s largest welfare states, which, in turn, has led to us having a high cost base.
Thus, we are not able to compete at wage level, but must instead find smarter ways to work to ensure our production remains competitive through increased efficiency. This is the core aspect of the project that we have just initiated,“ Torblå explains.
Odda Technology produces numerous products of roughly the same type, but unlike regular series production, each individual product is usually specially tailored to suit a specific facility on the seabed.
Thus, this production is often referred to as one-piece flow or continuous flow. Each individual product must be designed, calculated, described and documented in meticulous detail before it can be produced at Odda Technology, and this new endeavour now aims to streamline this process direct from the customer’s drawing board to commencement of production:
“In simple terms, our clients’ engineers design the products they need and send us extensive documentation in models with associated specifications such as pdfs that are really just pictures of sheets of paper.
Our engineers then have to process this data manually and “digitize” it. In addition, the product data received from the client are modeled in a slightly different way than the format the manufacturers need to be able to produce the parts.
Thus, as a general rule, we must always supplement with our production technology and redraw them from scratch using our own technology. Together, all of these are time-consuming processes and, hence, there is great potential for improvement,“ he continues.
Today’s method is extremely labor intensive and requires a lot of knowledge and expertise. This knowledge and expertise is pivotal for this industry, but the fact remains that it needs to be further developed to ensure it contributes to efficiency improvements to a greater extent than it does today. Hence,
Odda Technology is a driving force for the industry in developing its systems so that manufacturers can better automate the input part and thereby place their knowledge into a fully digitized process.
“This project will allow us to analyze what is needed for customers to deliver fully digital packages that we can import so that our setup procedure is fully automated. Then we can truly talk about developing a new standard for digital exchange of component information, from design to finished parts.“
The digitization project received a commitment to significant funding from Innovation Norway last autumn and the project start is anticipated for early 2021.
“The large, future oriented engineering companies that design equipment and components for the oil and gas industry have seen the value of this project and therefore have announced that they will be involved, while Digitread will be partners on the IT side,“ says Torblå.
The aim is for customers, when they first design new products, to put all the requirements they have for their products into 3D models that can be used as a production basis without the need for further processing.
The goal is also to establish an industry standard where data from several systems can be converted into a format that manufacturers can read directly in their 3D models.
“The project has the potential to give the industrial systems industry a real competitive edge. Norway is already a world leader in the development and production of advanced industrial parts. The next big step in the industrial systems industry is the digitization of this type of process. The purpose is to help our industry work smarter and more efficiently so that we stay ahead when it comes to competence, expertise and to keep the wheels of the workshop industry in Norway turning. The project will also bring about synergies in other industries and is also considered to have a global scalability,“ Torblå adds.
“It is precisely this type of development project that is extremely important if we want to retain Norwegian industry and keep Norwegian jobs in Norway“, explains Magnus Normann. He is the CEO of Digitread, a company that offers digital solutions that enable the industry to work smarter, faster and more cost-effectively.
“Since this digitization project is of great importance in many areas, we look forward to participating with our cutting-edge expertise and long-term experience enabling us to be in the unique position of contributing towards creating an optimal result that ultimately benefits the whole community,“ Normann concludes.