How Viking Creates Custom Drill Bits to Withstand Extreme Stress

Imagine being deep in the field (or the jungle, or the forest) and the work has been flowing smoothly for a couple weeks and you’re nearly three quarters finished. It’s an important job, a big contract, and you’re poised to not only hit your projected timeline, but you’re going to do so under budget as well.

Now imagine your first thought, or the first 4-letter word you’d use, when the last of your custom-made drill bits cracks and breaks.

The crew is onsite, your drilling rig is humming along, but it all comes to a screeching halt because one of the smallest pieces of the puzzle has crumbled under the pressure.

It happens. We’ve all been there. Drill bits and tooling is expensive, so the longer the last the more cost friendly they become. It’s a familiar refrain, and one we’ve worked hard on since Viking West was created a couple years ago.

How do we save our customers from those frustrating moments in the field? How do we make custom drill bits that can withstand extreme stress?

To find some answers, I turned to Viking West’s own Kevin Reimer.

Kelvin: I think the key to creating custom tooling and drill bits to last is understanding exactly where they’re going to be used, right?

Kevin: For sure. We’ve got customers working in conditions all over the world. It’s not just the drilling rig that needs to adapt, which is something we see when customers report back with specific needs regarding slopes and limited access locations.

One particular customer of ours is currently on a job drilling into rocky formations that are completely bone dry. There’s no water table to speak of, so the bit gets incredibly hot in no time at all.

How do we solve the issue to make the bit last? We test, test, and test some more so we know exactly how a bit will perform. After that it comes down to selecting the appropriate wearing materials and tungsten carbides and carbide patterns to provide the best performance.

Is the process different for each customer, or does it only hinge on where they’re going to be working?

It’s always a bit different, cost is a factor that changes so we don’t want to overdo something that the customer won’t need. With this customer, we did some variations of sample bits. They’re dealing with heat and dryness, so the variations we sent were chosen carefully. Based on the feedback for those variations we were able to make adjustments on the design until we hit the sweet spot.

When it comes to finishes and treatments, is it a little like a chef’s private recipe? Do OEM’s guard these secrets with their lives or are there common methods everyone uses?

The first part of that question is a yes, but it really just depends on the testing. Bits perform differently based on everything from the shape of the bit to the pattern of the carbides and the material. These are the essential components when it comes to bits made to withstand extreme conditions.

But the other part, and the more important component, is simply listening intently to your customer. We make sure we’re talking to more than one person in the organization as well. If you’re talking exclusively to the sales manager then you could miss the opinion of the operator. Who’s in the field doing the drilling? Who’s building the rig in the shop?

What happens in the field or shop doesn’t always get transferred to management. That multi-tiered communication is a huge part of our job. It’s amazing what you’ll learn just by putting in a bit of extra time.

Looking for custom tooling for your rig? Give us a call!

How the UK’s Dando Drilling is Dealing With a Turbulent 2016

Here at Viking West, it’s important to stay in touch with our friends and colleagues in the drilling industry. We’re the North American dealer for Dando Drilling and we’ve built a great working relationship with the guys across the pond in the last few years.

So, in the wake of the European Union’s referendum a few weeks back, we decided to check in with Callum Mee and the gang to see how things were going.

Kelvin: Brexit aside, how has business been for Dando in the first half of 2016?

Callum: It’s been quite busy, now that I think of it. Last week I was at the Hillhead Exhibition, which was interesting. I also recently attended a geotechnical show up in London as well, so it’s been busy in just the past month or so.

Overseas in the last six months has been busy as well. We’ve been exploring some potential contracts overseas as well as here in Europe and Asia. We normally work with two teams, one working with larger contracts and then another on the client relations, the smaller details. So that approach has led to some great conversations. Indonesia is busy, Sudan has come back online, there’s a lot of interest from Pakistan. The exports side has picked up considerably as confidence is re-established in global markets. Latin America is showing interest and strength as well. We have great representation in many countries in central and south America and our efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Has the European referendum slowed things down for Dando?

It has had some impact in the UK but we expect this to be short term. Early in the year we got off the ground with some pace and there’s still a lot going on, we have a lot going through our workshop and some great leads that we expect to convert soon. We’ve been speaking to companies and contractors, some of the big companies are still busy, but a lot of that is due to the fact some of those companies are still expanding, so they’re busy in other areas in the industry. Overall the referendum has had little impact on us as most of our business is overseas. One positive side in the short term is that we have become more competitive as the pound has weakened.

That’s definitely good news. The global drilling community has been dealing with a worldwide recession, and then the referendum develops. It’s good to know that people are pushing through. What are some of the specific methods you’ve used to overcome these hurdles?

We really try to turn the focus back on ourselves, to internalize the challenges. We’ve had to adapt and make changes like everybody else. Our product range has grown over the last couple of years in line with market demands. People no longer have the cash to invest in large capital plans so they are looking for cheaper machines that have multifunctional capabilities to allow them to make their offering more diverse. This is an area where we have focused our efforts along with continued improvements of all our products. We’ve also made a number of changes internally with a view to streamlining processes in all departments which allows us to improve productivity and our competitiveness.

We believe that the recession presents choices and opportunities rather than problems – a time to reflect on our own operations as well as product range.

We have our own unique challenges, most of our success and growth comes from the export market. It’s important to get the best structure, the right people on board, and spend the right amount of time and effort in design. We believe the recession is loosening, so we want to take initiative now instead of waiting. The minimum market will come back online and we want to be well equipped when that happens.

At Viking we talk a lot about controlling what you can control in light of the turbulent price of oil. What advice do you have for companies or people feeling the pinch of the economy?

I think ultimately you need to concentrate on your strengths. At Dando, that’s always been our flexibility. We work with customers to build custom rigs. We’ve taken years of that experience and it’s really stronger now more than ever. We’ve made several rigs over the last few years from scratch and we’ve tried to build on that and make the process easier for us and easier for the customer. The modular design is a big part of that direction in which we’re headed. People can now swap out components easily, which makes their lives a lot easier. With both the sales team and the design team, it’s important to maximize our strengths to make sure we’re understanding and utilizing them efficiently.

Callum and the gang are always so great to talk to – what was intended as one post has grown as well. Check in next week to learn more about the specific improvements to Dando’s Mk 2 Terrier.

4 Ways to Commit to Offshore Drilling Rig Safety

According to the Wall Street Journal, “government and industry officials continue to wrestle with a problem investigators say was at the heart of the 2010 Gulf oil spill: human error.”

There are a lot of differences when you’re drilling into the earth below the surface of the ocean as opposed to setting up your drilling rig in the South American jungle, the northern Canadian prairies, or the brutal high arctic.

The main difference we’re going to focus on here is the isolation. Drilling teams could be stationed 25 km’s from the shoreline, but it could be 250 km’s and the same environment would completely surround the hard-working men and women who commit to that lifestyle.

Isolation, hard work, and extreme conditions are the perfect recipe for unfortunate offshore incidents. Here’s five ways to avoid those accidents.

1. Work Life Balance

Kind of a reversal of this post’s introduction, but since the biggest cause of injury is human error, it stands to reason that focus and concentration are keys to offshore drilling rig safety (not to mention drilling rig safety of all types).

How do we ensure we’re focused on the job? We take care of ourselves when we’re not on the job. Particularly when it comes to offshore drilling, an occupation that requires long shifts and intensive work, a healthy work life balance based on quality time with family and loved ones will go a long way toward refreshed, inspired work.

2. Patience

We’re obviously big fans of the front lines in the drilling industry. But the ambition that made a career working on an offshore drilling rig possible is also the attitude that can lead to mistakes.

Accidents don’t always have to make international headlines either. It might be quicker to pick up something heavy in order to move it – equipment, an attachment, you get the idea – but these impatient practices can lead to chronic injuries to the back, shoulders, knees, hips – the list goes on.

3. Behavioural Diligence

Diamond Offshore Drilling works with a program called the Diligent Observation Decisive Intervention process (DODI), an implement “built on the principle that targeting undesired behaviors for correction and encouraging desired behaviors will help us protect our most valuable assets: our people, our environment, and our equipment.”

Programs and safety measures such as DODI put the responsibility for safety not only in the hands of individual workers, but on the colleagues and teammates of those workers. Most of us consider ourselves invincible – it’s why we get careless and end up getting hurt.

It’s easy to miss a potential accident happening to you, but it’s tough to miss to see a potential accident happening to someone else.

4. Handsfree Operation

Hand injuries account for half of all injuries that occur on offshore drilling rigs. Safety is a priority on the water, and it starts with hand safety. This is why we designed our Scorpion Pipe Handler to operate completely handsfree. It’s human nature to get the job done quickly and easily, and when that blue collar mentality mixes with years of hands-on experience, it’s easy to see accidents happening as operators reach in to machines to make adjustments.

We’re not going to eliminate accidents entirely until we remove human beings from the front lines of offshore drilling rigs. However, we can implement new methods and technologies to prohibit the conditions necessary for accidents.

We all want to go home safely each night, but if we have to spend multiple nights on the water working for the offshore drilling sector, then we’d better be doing everything in our power to keep that job safe.

How to Build an Ironclad Reputation in the Drilling Industry

If we could sum up the state of the global drilling industry in 2016 with one word, what would it be? First, sticking to one word is asking a lot of a blogger, but if I have to choose then it’s really not that difficult.


Every day we’re challenged to create products that help our customers solve problems. It’s a worthy challenge to build new things, and it’s an even worthier (is that a word?) challenge to make new parts that don’t cost an arm and a leg; figuratively and literally speaking, of course.

However, through the challenges with which we’re faced on a daily basis, we’ve actually managed to not only maintain a solid reputation, we’ve actually improved our reputation in the eyes of our customers, our colleagues, and, yes, our competition.

There’s two areas we focus on when it comes to building our reputation in the drilling industry.

1. Customers

Real Examples of Good Work. Not to be confused with testimonials (we’ll get to that), above everything else, the best way to create and maintain a rock solid reputation is to help people. Do good work. Solve problems. One of today’s biggest challenges for OEM’s and drilling contractors is to get the job done within a strict budget, so if we can help facilitate that process with an attachment that doesn’t break the bank, then the customer is happy and word travels. Which brings us to…

Word of Mouth. Do a good job and people will talk. This is where your testimonials live – on the tongues of satisfied customers who will return to your shop in a heartbeat if they need something else. The drilling industry is about tangible work done in physical locations throughout the world, but a lot of the talk happens in the digital market. This is why when we’re looking for content for the blog, it’s not that hard to find!

Read more about Thoroughbred Engineering or Dando Drilling International.

The Little Things. Alright, full disclosure: the little things count for a lot regardless of the industry you call home. In our industry, it’s always nice to work with OEM’s, contractors, and large corporations that value honesty, transparency, and approachability. Most of our work happens as the result of simply asking questions and making unique requests. In fact, that’s how our partnership with Dando began.

2. Recruits

Fulfilling Atmosphere. The oil and gas industry has always experienced a large degree of turnover. New recruits are hired, they learn, they excel, and then they move on to roles with greater responsibility. And like customers, men and women working their way up through their career will talk about former employers whether their experience was positive or negative.

Professional Support. One way to attract and keep skilled workers is to provide professional support and a good work/life balance. Your market might require seasonal work, so there’s a busy season and a slow season. Even if you’re working in South America or a location without a fluctuating climate, it’s important to provide resources and certification to employees so they can improve and, ultimately, help the company improve.

Creative Encouragement. People do better work when they feel a sense of ownership. Building pride into your career is important for employees to stay engaged with the work and, in turn, better work is created. This means that sometimes people will need to take creative risks in order to achieve success. Foster this. Encourage ambition, even if it means you’ll end up losing your employee to larger roles.

Because once they’re there, they won’t forget where they came from.

3 (Non-Financial) Ways to Attract Industry-Leading Talent to Your Shop

When we started Viking West a couple years back, one of the key elements in our mission statement was to save our customers’ money. Pretty standard, right? What business doesn’t want to save money? There are two key distinctions to be made here from our perspective.

Customization & Collaboration: we believed (and still do) that money could be saved at a higher rate by committing to a detailed customization and planning process. We talk to potential customers and build to specification.

The Economy: the sticking point, however, is that Viking was also created during a time of economic turbulence. Oil prices were sliding downhill and not only did was it crucial to save time and energy during the design process, we needed to be mindful that for many companies in the lower mainland and all over the world, never before had budgets been so constrained.

However, the work must go on. Today we’re talking about additional ways to save money. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the drilling industry, construction, or forestry, recruiting smart new talent will boost your company’s reputation through reputable, helpful work.

So, how do we recruit the best and brightest talent our industry has to offer?

1. Immediate Responsibility

New graduates armed with technical knowledge and theoretical training want to hit the ground running when they’re hired. Gone are the 90’s when oil soared past $100 a barrel and recruits were happy with a paycheque and as little responsibility as possible. These days, responsibility equals opportunity. So the next way to attract industry-leading talent?

2. Potential Opportunities

A chart explaining the hierarchy of the shop isn’t going to cut it. After all, if a new recruit believes the only way to climb the ladder is by taking your job, then chances are they’ll be looking elsewhere (unless there’s something you don’t know). A realistic opportunity is represented by an avenue that doesn’t exist yet. How can a new recruit push the operation to the next level? A new skill not currently employed? A new line of thinking? An opportunity that only exists if a new recruit is hired immediately grants a sense of empowerment and responsibility.

3. Innovative Machinery

Alright, the real meat and potatoes of recruiting industry-best talent to your company: give them something awesome to work on. A few weeks ago I was talking to Mike Schlender of Viking West about how cool it was to work on the specific heat cycle involved with heat treating precision gears. The passion for the work was obvious – it almost made me want to switch departments!

On second thought, maybe not. What would become of the blog, after all?

In addition to immediate responsibility and ownership over a specific area, potential opportunities to contribute to the company and work with innovative equipment is a big priority for new recruits. Hiring people with these three points in mind also builds in natural accountability, too. No matter who shows up at the interview, we all want to hire people who earn their paycheque at the end of the day, right? Your budget might not permit you to go on a hiring spree, so that’s why it’s so important to find intelligent people who represent value.

And hey, it’s a bonus if they’re enjoyable to be around, too. The good news is that’s a common trait for most people who work hard, are intelligent, and are passionate about bringing something new to the table.

4 Extreme Conditions Where Tooling Simply Can’t Fail

For the second week in a row we’re taking the loyal readers of the Viking West blog on a scenic vacation, one that promises memories to last a lifetime. Last week we journeyed to a muggy job site in the middle of a jungle. This week we’re on top of the world – higher, actually – atop the main body of an enormous wind turbine in southern Alberta.

A few months ago I was talking to Viking’s Mike Schlender about some of the unique locations in, atop, or under which our custom tooling products and precision gears have been used. He immediately told me a story about a custom order required for a combination bearing and gear mounted at the top of a gigantic wind turbine.

From way up here, gigantic takes on a whole new meaning. The conditions required for safe work are specific, and, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), important. The less time you spend climbing up and down a structure like this, the better your time will be spent. That’s why we outfitted the turbine with a large stainless steel ring that wouldn’t corrode. It was important for our customers to install the ring, take in the view, and climb down. Easy!

Here’s four more extreme conditions in which we’ve put our custom gears and tooling to work.

1. Slopes

We’ve got no shortage of experience working on topsy-turvy horizons here in British Columbia. The biggest challenge with slopes is that the measurements required to ensure a perfect penetration are so precise – if your angle is off or a gear doesn’t fit properly, then the entire project can be thrown off. Plus, sloped terrains are subject to the whims of the climate; weather or wind interference means today’s measurements might not be the same as tomorrow’s.

2. Cold

Like my Dad always used to say back on the flat prairie in Alberta, things just break when it’s cold. At home on the acreage, that meant the garage door, the truck, the water well or any number of items. When we create custom tooling and gears for cold weather applications, it’s crucial to apply the right type of treatment to ensure maximum wear and resistance. No one likes to work in the cold, after all, especially when it’s work that could be avoided.

3. Urban Jungles

Hot, cold, rainy, it doesn’t matter – the biggest challenge when working in the middle of a city is the accessibility. It’s why we modified our Double Wrench Breakout Table to be mounted on a mobile sled. It costs a lot of money to work in busy locations like intersections filled with annoyed drivers coming and going from work. If tooling breaks down and interrupts those jobs, then costs can skyrocket in a hurry.

4. Hard as a Rock

A custom bit isn’t worth it’s salt if it’s not strong enough to split the earth in search of all the riches contained within.

… which is a fancy way to say that the application of every product must be understood and tested for prior to drilling. What works on limestone might not work on thick clay, after all. Sure, the conditions above the surface might have an impact on the crew doing the work, but the conditions down below are what really matters to the equipment being used.

How to Prevent Failure in Precision Gears & Custom Tooling

It’s a hot, muggy afternoon that would probably be better spent on a breezy patio instead of the middle of a dense jungle.

But hey, that’s where the work is because that’s where the samples are, so it’s a hot and humid day on site.

That’s ok, because this project has been worth sweating through the intense jungle heat of central America. The work is tough, but the result will help a lot of people who live in the area, both with the work being done and the jobs being created.

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling relieved after a job well done. So all in all, it’s a good day and we’ll be done soon. Everything is going smoothly.

Until something breaks. 

There is so much to lose on large projects that are set back by failing equipment. That equipment can include large components like hydraulic drills or guard shields, which are both dangerous to both the work and the people involved, or failure can be blamed on the smallest pieces of the puzzle: tooling and gears.

Let’s be realistic for a second. Wait, we’re always realistic! Anyways, let’s be real about human error. It happens. It’s the reason we’ve built our company on finding hands-free solutions whenever possible. Human operators aren’t automated. People apply their skill, training, and intelligence to complicated situations in order to achieve the best possible results. Sometimes this means sweating through a difficult task in the middle of the jungle. It’s hard enough to keep your concentration on the task at hand in less-than-ideal conditions, but when something breaks down, even if it’s just a bit piece of the machine, it can be a frustrating reality to deal with.

Check out our custom tooling products.

Tooling & Precision Gears: Potential Failure

Wear and tear adds up. When gears and other components don’t fit perfectly with their machines, grinding occurs even at a microscopic level. Tooling breaks down naturally over time no matter how snug the fit, that’s why it’s so important to create as little friction as possible.

Here’s Viking’s Mike Schlender on the subject from an interview a couple months ago.

“It’s really all dependant on the job, or the conditions. Everything goes through a process to determine its viability in a particular environment. If you have a bearing or a gear in an application that isn’t meeting expectations for durability then we work to improve the specs.”

How Do We Avoid Failure?

Enough about problems, let’s find solutions, right? Right! Although, one of the best ways to find solutions is to pay attention to potential problems.

Anyways, in order to create custom tooling products or precision gears to a customer’s specifications, we learn as much as possible about the application for which it will be used.

Materials: fatigue resistance in unique conditions is the priority when it comes to selecting the right material to use.

Treatments: from surface treatments to coating to the controlled cycle of heat treatments, there’s plenty that can be done to improve either wear or strength.

Geometry: the strength of a gear or drive always comes back to the physical shape of the product. It’s important to pay close attention to the demands on a specific shape.

Check out Viking’s Precision Gears.

No project begins with failure in mind, but the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to predict potential problems. Every machine is built with a variety of components, large and small, that are all important to its success.

So the next time you find yourself deep in the jungle, make sure your gear is up to the challenge.

3 Time-Saving Questions to Ask Customers Before The Work Begins

For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about the realities of oil prices and the important actions you can take to alleviate some of the pressure your company might be feeling. From gloomy reports in Canada to optimistic predictions in North America to  tempered expectations in the UK, quarter one oil prices provided plenty of fuel for debate in the first three months of 2016.

…Which is an ironic statement, I know.

While we may be low on fuel as an industry (actually, we’ve got plenty of fuel, that’s part of the problem), on the front lines, in the shops and on the job-site, we’ve got plenty of reasons to keep working hard and providing solutions for customers whether you’re working in the drilling industry or the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

One tactic we’ve found helps us deal with tightened budgets is to focus on saving time, which will always lead to saving money. Before you make a sale or you commit to a new relationship with a customer, it’s helpful to build a detailed understanding of expectations. This might involve spending more time not working at the beginning, but you’ll avoid wasted time later on.

Here are three questions to answer before the work begins.

1. What will success look like for the project?

In order to establish clear metrics for every project, it’s important for both buyer and manufacturer to gain a clear picture of the desired end result. That way when obstacles present themselves, and they will, it will be a lot easier to find a solution in short order. The metrics by which every project is measured are completion deadlines and budget, but what about the actual performance of the project? Once the machine is up and running and doing its job, what will that job look like once it’s successfully been completed?

2. What are the 3 main responsibilities for this product?

We’ve found a lot of success designing attachments that go above and beyond the call of duty. Drillers who can put a machine to work on multiple tasks save a lot of time and effort that would normally be devoted to set-up, teardowns and transportation of equipment. For example, what type of trees will our grapple be grappling? What sizes of pipes will our Scorpion Pipe Handler be handling? Into what type of earth will our tooling products be drilling? These days it’s beneficial to use versatile equipment, but it’s important to find the proper balance between versatility and productivity.

3. Who will be using this product?

If safety rules the day, then productivity is its loyal commander. We all want to go home safe every day, but we also want to get a lot of work done while we’re on the job. Before you sell an attachment or a machine, paint a clear picture of the operator who will actually be rolling up his or sleeves on location. Will they be working in difficult conditions, like the side of a mountain? Deep in the jungle? What does their level of experience look like? These questions will also help you decide on the level of customization required.

Asking the tough questions before a project begins might seem like an extra effort for which you don’t have time, but it’s an effort that’s necessary if you want to ensure the job is done right.

And getting the job done right is valuable no matter how much a barrel of oil costs.

What To Do While You’re Waiting For Oil Prices to Rebound

“Crude oil, or “black gold,” is one of the world’s most precious commodities: its price affects the economic ecosystem at every level, from family budgets to corporate earnings to the nation’s GDP.”

That’s Prableen Bajpal, a chartered financial analyst and the founder of FinFix, a financial research and training facility in India. For Bajpal, it’s important to understand the various factors that affect the price of oil. From news cycle responses that fuel one perspective or another to policy changes in governments in every corner of the world, the fluctuation in oil prices can be traced back to a multitude of factors.

Since the summer of 2014, oil prices have been steadily shrinking, which occurred at the end of a “four-year phase of price stability” where crude oil rested at around $105 per barrel.

Well, the days of $105 barrels of oil seem like a distant past as well as, hopefully, a future as well.

But in the meantime, it’s up to you, the original equipment manufacturer, the machine dealer, the drilling engineer, to weather the storm.


Reassign Your People

For thousands of out-of-work men and women accustomed to opportunities galore in the oil and gas industry, it’s a bitter pill to swallow when you’re told you’re no longer needed. For years we’ve seen skilled labour and proficient technical skills put to work on a variety of projects. The only problem with these focused skill-sets is that they have a tendency to exclude other skills.

For instance, maybe you’re an expert machine operator, but you struggle with organization. Or perhaps you’re an excellent communicator, but you’re using outdated methods that could be improved.

If it’s safe to do so, assign your people to different areas instead of ditching the work you might think can only be done by a new hire. Data entry, scheduling, inventory – some of these tasks might be foreign to people under your employ, but they’ll gladly give it a try if it means holding on to their job.

Offer More Value Than You Cost

One of the biggest keys to unlocking the economic downturn is to return to the roots by which you originally found success without worrying about income at the end of the day.

This might sound crazy, but the more we focus on the results we want to see in our corner of the industry, the less likely we’re to see those results come to fruition.

The drilling industry, forestry, construction – they’re about building solutions that enrich and improve lives. Somewhere along the line, probably when the price of a barrel of oil soared beyond $100, we forgot the simple fact that our careers exists to provide a service. The days of throwing money at hurdles placed in our path are over, and that means we need to back up our promises with good old fashioned hard work and creative, cost-friendly solutions. If you’re selling something, then you’d better make sure your buyer will receive something of great value or importance.

Because if you can create more value than you cost, then you’ll have a job for life.

Next week we’ll drill deeper into the realities of the current oil economy, specifically as they relate to what we believe is the most important tool of all when it comes to creating value out of thin air: communication.

Drilling Trends in North America: What Worked For Us In 2015?

2015 was a tumultuous year for a lot of people in the drilling industry. Heck, every corner of the energy sector all over the world felt pressure due to an imbalance between oil supply and demand. Drilling trends saw costs cut across the board, which included trimming down on new equipment, halting production, and, unfortunately, thousands of lost jobs.

There is a bright side. The mining industry still saw increased production in certain areas despite the market. Companies were more determined than ever to keep working – the key was to work smarter, not harder. Innovation became more important than ever, as did safety. There are hints the market could correct itself in the next couple years, but while we’re in the middle of the economic downturn, it’s important to establish healthy processes so we can commit to a stable workplace in the future.

Despite the experience our team working in the construction, drilling and forestry industries in varying capacities, Viking West is still a relatively new company. We were established during a time of market instability. This means that we’ve had to develop processes to adhere to the realities of the economy right out of the gate.

Here’s what we relied on in 2015.

Global Supply Chains

“As the world has gotten flatter and supply chains have gotten longer, the need for companies to follow best practices in global supply chain management has intensified.”

That’s Dave Blanchard from an article at IndustryWeek from 2012. The message remains a strong one four years later, and as a company serving customers in a growing number of markets globally, it’s one in which we believe strongly.

Utilizing the global supply chain means we’re not only keeping costs down for our customers, we’re contributing to a global market by purchasing the very best in quality and craftsmanship.

Designing With Care

We took our time designing new products in 2015. In our industry, the temptation is always there to rush the design process and make a sale. This is how the entire oil and gas industry operated in the past when the oil and the revenue flowed easily.

Well, those days are behind us, though the harsh lessons of rushing are still being felt.

We took our time by:

  • Communicating with customers multiple times during the design process
  • Testing, customizing, testing, developing, and testing some more
  • Writing clear goals and achievement points for every piece of equipment we built

The Value of Time & Space

There are ways to save money other than, you know, not spending money.

Prior to 2015, we’d see OEM’’s invest in large warehouses and shops to store their equipment before selling. In the past this was a process that was hardly questioned; until the fact arose that the money used buying floor space could be better served elsewhere.

We really started to take advantage of time and space in 2015, and it didn’t end with our own internal operation. We were able to create massive cost savings for our customers last year by delivering products on a predetermined schedule so they didn’t have to find the floor space to store them. We leveraged our Canadian and overseas facilities, engineering resources, project management experience and global logistics expertise to build products for clients as they were needed, whether we were dealing with single units or higher volume orders.

2015 was a challenging year, but we were able to leap over many hurdles and so were a lot of our colleagues and partners. There’s no question we’re all anticipating a time when the oil market evens out, but when that happens, it’s nice to know we’ll be prepared to keep it stable for years to come.