Creating Attachments for OEM’s: the Viking West Process

“Our company was created with a singular method in mind, a focus on attachment manufacturing that we felt was really lacking in the drilling, construction and forestry industries in the last decade: talking to customers first, creating unique products second.”

That’s Kevin Reimer from Viking West. For Kevin, Mike Schlender and the entire team in British Columbia and overseas, building sophisticated attachments isn’t as difficult as the current economic climate would have you believe.

And it’s that focus that’s steadily catching on with original equipment manufacturers who need to find innovative solutions fast.

The Problem

“The biggest hurdle OEM’s face is certainly cost,” says Kevin.

It’s understandable, given the economy and the danger to new projects because of budget shortage. Equipment manufacturers and dealers simply don’t have the means to build products without maximizing every inch of their budget. (More on inches in a moment.)

Managing the entire supply chain of equipment and producing items internally is expensive. Most OEM’s generate their profit from assembling and selling the product instead of full turn-key manufacturing.

In short, selling products that account for everything from design to testing to assembly isn’t working right now.

The Solution

OEM’s want a finished component and they want to go to work.

“We communicate extensively with out customers, and then we take the new item and it goes through our system, which saves significant costs,” says Kevin. Viking West was conceived with a manufacturing process in place that takes advantage of the global supply chain, whereby significant costs are passed on to customers.

Products are then built to customer specifications and at target costs.

The Benefits

1. Schedule

“Sometimes I like to think of our team as a sophisticated delivery service,” laughs Kevin. “In this economy, costs are saved with regards to time and space as well as finances.” Viking West operates on a just-in-time basis, where customers receive finished products when they’re required, not before and certainly not after. In this way customers can save on inventory space, which, like all things, costs money.

In the drilling industry, every penny, every inch and every minute conserved will help improve competitiveness.

2. Engineering

“One of my favourite parts of the job is collaborating with people all over the world to improve our industry,” says Kevin. “We’re creators at heart, so we love making new things that get the job done and help people. Our clients, original equipment manufacturers and distributors, leverage our engineering to develop existing products, refine and add new features.”

Refinements are made as quickly as a customer can pick up the phone, but truth be told, the design process is an ongoing effort by two parties seeking the same outcome.

3. Volume

“It all starts with the design of a specific product, but we know we’re taking advantage of cost savings across the board when customers start ordering up to 100 components and more.”

Engineering efficiency skyrockets when the design hits the mark just right, because refinements and further development is multiplied while cost and schedule remains intact

Cost Reduction Wrap-up

With this process, Viking West has created an efficient method of making attachments for original equipment manufacturers.

  • initial price of items is reduced
  • local shipping costs are saved
  • internal engineering costs for OEM’s are eliminated
  • inventory space is saved, wasted space on the floor in a shop is eliminated

“The process is working well so far, which is a huge testament to the hard work of our industry in the wake of the price of oil,” says Mike Schlender of Viking West. “We’re going to keep working and building new attachments for our clients because they’re spending less than they have in the past, and they’re getting a refined product to a higher standard than our industry has seen before.”

Cooperation and collaboration. For the team at Viking West, that’s the name of the game.

Our Review of Groundwater Expo 2015

The National Groundwater Expo held in Las Vegas this past year was an excellent opportunity for the team here at Viking West not only to meet and interact with some of our industry’s most intelligent and creative influencers, but to do so alongside our new partners from Dando Drilling International.

It was Viking’s first chance to attend a conference with Dando, and to team up to spread a common message to the new people with whom we had the chance to speak.

I caught up with Kevin Reimer to talk about the conference and what it meant both for Viking West and Dando, but also the drilling and groundwater sectors as a whole.

Kelvin: Since this was your first experience at Groundwater, what were your first impressions when you arrived at the show?

Kevin: The first thing I noticed was simply the amount of people. It was packed, there were people everywhere. I figured there might be a dip in attendance because of the state of oil, but I learned later that attendance came out at roughly the same number as 2014.

What were some of your early conversations and interactions like?

People were definitely interested in our products. We’re sort of the newcomer on the block, so maybe there was a little bit of sizing up (laughs). Seriously though, we brought along our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler and the Double Clamp Wrench, so people were very interested in seeing the designs and were impressed with the quality of all the components as well as the finished products.

It was great to have Dando by our side, they had their tooling display up and the Dando Terrier, so together we brought people in the door right away, which was great to see.

What was some of the chatter about amongst all the attendees?

Actually, the big thing that surprised me was that no one was talking about the economy. It was refreshing. Obviously the economy is a key indicator of success, or at least a driving force for the industry, but for the most part people were more interested in what we can do as an industry instead of what we can’t. People want to talk about solutions instead of excuses right now, so it’s nice to know that the investment to travel to the show was worthwhile.

We made some great contacts with new companies, so we’re going to spend the next little while following up on those leads and talking with people to see if there’s a way we can help grow their business with our attachments.

Were there any surprises at Groundwater Expo?

You bet, welcome surprises. One of which, right now our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler is equipped to handle 10 foot rods, and a large company we spoke with asked if we could create one to manage lengths of 40 feet.

This is the awesome thing about shows like this, it gives us a chance to learn more about who’s out there and what we can do to contribute to their business. Which, really, is the entire basis upon which Viking West was built. Learn about the work and the client, communicate, design together and enjoy the savings in the end. I love talking shop with new potential clients, or just people in the industry, because you learn that everyone just wants to do good work and push the economy forward.

Another cool surprise was speaking with companies interested in becoming distributors. We weren’t sure what kind of response we’d get, we had a big sign and everything, but it paid off, there are people out there who want to carry our products, so it’s confirmation that our relatively new company is on a good path.

Was the show long enough?

(Laughs) No, I could have stayed in Vegas for a little while longer. Even for two days though it was great to present alongside Dando. They’ve been in business for 100 years and we’re partners now, so everyone knows them, and by proxy they’re getting to know us as well.

The set up was good, it was organized, there was lots of room despite the crowd, so I really have only good things to report.

Sounds like a solid trip! Congrats guys!

Interested in becoming a distributor for Viking West? Let’s talk.

Viking West’s Cab Guards: Case Study

Have you ever caught yourself wondering out loud at the end of a day, “where did the time go?”

It’s a good feeling, it means we were engaged in our work and we generally enjoyed the day. Coming back tomorrow will be easy?

When we speak with operators and customers, one of the most common themes is that good work is easier to do when you’re comfortable, and you’re comfortable when you can see properly, the temperature is just right and you know you’re safe.

With those three aspects in mind, Viking West designed and built new custom Cab Guards that are easy to get into as they’re easy to get out of.

Cab Guard

Key Cab Guard Features

  • Escape Hatch
  • 50% lighter and therefore safer & easier to operate
  • Safe, upright shipping capability

In addition to these key safety features, Viking West’s new Cab Guard offered the opportunity to design a clever, low-tech product, which is always a worthy challenge.

Improved Roof Design

Not only does the open roof concept allow for greater breathability and climate comfort, it creates an opening for GPS signals to penetrate the cab itself.

Cab Guard 3

Finally, this version of the Cab Guard comes with a larger rain visor to keep moisture away from the operator’s field of vision.

Other key features included to eliminate unnecessary shop labour:

  • Door bumper mounts
  • Soft cover hook mounts

Work Experience & the Experience of Work

Viking West’s Cab Guards are designed to be safe and easy to operate at different times of the day, with different amounts of light and in different climates. They’re delivered upright and they’re ready to use. Less install time and less man-power, and soon you’re up and running.

Cab Guard 4

Viking West is proud of creating products that solve common (and not-so-common) problems on the job site, and there’s nothing worse than going about your business in a cab that’s too hot, too cold or too wet. The best work happens when we empower our operators to use their experience and their skill-set without distractions.

Viking’s Cab Guards are just one more piece of the productivity puzzle.

In 2016, Contracts Will Be the Key to Prosperous Drilling

Let’s take a minute to picture a typical scenario in the drilling world. Imagine being out in the field with your normal crew of operators and managers about to begin a crucial component of a large project. To your knowledge, all the t’s have been crossed and the i’s dotted, but then it happens.

Equipment malfunction.

Work is halted and someone is on the phone within minutes to order a new part or a new piece – a piece that shouldn’t have failed, but was overlooked during the planning stages of the project.

The first things lost? Time, energy and money.

The next thing? Well, we’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Let’s Leave Outdated Procedures Behind

The oil and gas industry has been guilty of a spend-first, ask questions later attitude for decades. A lot of things have improved in the industry, there’s no question: how we drill, how we extract oil, how we’re finding new minerals and substances beneath the surface of the Earth – but these improved procedures are wasted if we don’t get better at the steps taken before projects are launched.

The work in the office needs to improve at the same rate technology has improved.

Sometimes we engage in projects that are familiar, and it’s easy to employ the process we’ve always used. In that case, imagine yourself in a completely new environment. Imagine drilling for oil in the frozen arctic, considered the final frontier by some people in the industry. Imagine drilling through two km’s of rock-solid ice in the freezing cold.

And now imagine you or your equipment being ill-equipped for the job.

Asking the Tough Questions

You wouldn’t put your team or your machines in a position to fail willingly, so let’s pre-emptively strike at the problems that have plagued our industry in the past.

  • Tighten your margins of error
  • Demand success of every component (alive and mechanical)
  • Test, test & test some more

An uncompromising commitment to quality before a project even gets underway will not only save your company from costly problems further down the road, it will improve your reputation during a year when your name means more than ever before.

Because no one wants to waste time, money or effort in 2016. Those days are, hopefully, behind us.

3 Keys to Save Money in 2016

A lot of work in our industry depends on the economic climate and the willingness to engage in new projects in new locations. In this instance, it’s helpful to have equipment that can withstand unique climates both above and below the ground.

Custom-built products are valuable because they’re created with specific conditions and tasks in mind.

Another way to save is to find skilled contributors and hire them on a contract-basis. As the economy ventures further into a contract-basis, it’s economically efficient to keep a smaller storefront with more building and fabrication occurring on a contract basis.

Finally, the third and most important way to operate in 2016: take your time.

In 2016, let’s measure our industry’s success in results instead of the time it takes to achieve those results. Truthfully, it’s the perfect time to slow down as oil production does the same. This time around, we’ve got the opportunity to adopt efficient new procedures that promote quality above quantity.

Let’s take advantage of the time we’ve got.