InFocus Energy Services, Inc. is in the business of facing problems as hard as rock. Primarily an R&D-based company for downhole products for the oil and gas industry, the company licenses its technology and products to strategic partners.
Testing is everything, especially in the unpredictable environments of downhole drilling. Not surprisingly, one of InFocus’ primary business challenges is reducing its reliance on slow and expensive physical testing.
“SOLIDWORKS® is the core of our engineering group,” says Founder/Director Allan Pearson. “It’s the basis for everything we do: modeling, simulation, flow analysis, and renderings. We rarely have to rely on other products.”
When InFocus discovered that it needed more simulation power, it turned to SIMULIAworks, which leverages the robust SIMULIA® Abaqus solver on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform. What’s more, the product works smoothly with SOLIDWORKS.
InFocus utilized SIMULIAworks on the bearing section of the company’s RE|FLEX Premium HP/HT drilling motor. The motor’s bearing section is a proprietary design that was developed to convert extreme loading parameters, including torque of over 30,000 foot-pounds, into efficient drilling action.
Optimizing Designs for Success
SIMULIAworks predicted the failure—with precise correlation to actual test results—of the company’s initial concept design of the drive system that used traditional ball bearings (it failed because the load crushed the bearings and the faces that load the bearings), and helped the company develop a better, more innovative design.
“With SIMULIAworks we were able to evaluate a range of geometric and material options, a process that helped us quickly optimize the tapered, barrel-shaped design of the bearings, and also decide the best high-strength steel for the design,” Kjellbotn recalls.
Analyzing its options in a digital environment saved InFocus the time and expense of having to physically test all the possibilities. “This allowed us to optimize critical internal components for cyclic fatigue-loading [bending stress], a common cause of twist-offs downhole, and confirmed a higher torque rating and increased durability for our product,” says Kjellbotn.
The faster and more affordable development process made possible using SIMULIAworks to develop the bearing section of the RE|FLEX Premium drilling motor is precisely what InFocus needs to introduce industry innovations in a timely, consistent fashion.
“All of those [physical] tests on a high-strength drive shaft—at a cost of thousands of dollars per test—would have blown both the schedule and budget,” says Kjellbotn. “We saved tens of thousands of dollars and months of time and extra labor costs by using SIMULIAworks. It helped us condense a process that would usually take months into just a few weeks.”
InFocus prides itself on creating innovative new products, continually pushing limits, and succeeding where others fail. Kjellbotn adds: “With SIMULIAworks we are only limited by our imagination.”