Jean-Christophe Granier, joint managing director, Wilkie Offshore shares the latest developments in offshore textiles
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb, once said that “just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do, doesn’t mean it’s useless.” In his lifetime, Edison had more than 1000 patents for a range of technologies, including telegraphs, magnetic, wirings, recorders and associated instrumentation and apparatus.
But when Edison famously created his electric lightbulb, Wilkie Offshore’s parent J&D Wilkie had already been engineering new textile technologies.
This remains the daily creative journey at Wilkie offshore, creating a toolbox of Advanced Textile Technologies™ that can be applied to yet unknown customer dilemmas. The oil and gas market is ready to think smarter and to create solutions to last for decades, and Wilkie Offshore is ready for change.
Our heritage has led us to produce 10 to 15 new technologies a week. These are now kept in an archive of more than 20 000 Advanced Textile Technologies and engineered products which support customers in the world’s toughest environments.
Innovation has to be part of business. In today’s financial climate customers are looking for technologies that are better than what has gone before. Textiles can be durable fibres, woven or non-woven materials or composites. We believe that anything is possible because the combinations of textiles and components are limitless.
Extensive textile experience is married with in-house metal working and fabrication services to invent new products to solve customers’ problems.
Options for a better solution
The WilkieBand™ is a prime example of a solution developed and produced by Wilkie Offshore. Several of Wilkie’s Advanced Textile Technologies™ were used in a reliable offshore end product. The machine shop fabricates an ‘H tensioner’ which is connected to an Extreema® sling which out performs the strongest and most well-known trademarked aramid alternatives. Extreema® is 15 times stronger than steel on a weight for weight basis, does not absorb water and is UV resistant.
It is textiles like this that will mean a breakthrough in the future making the industry safer, more productive and efficient for customers.
This is how Wilkie Offshore have worked for nearly 150 years. It has has the luxury of being a family business, with high quality and dedicated mentors to guide the next generation and a loyal staff base, including a core group of experts with between 25 and 40 years’ service with J&D Wilkie.
Wilkie Offshore’s contribution to a joint research and development product resulted in a yarn which was woven into a new fabric called Wilkieflon™. It is a key component used to develop unique and technically advanced composite technology. It is stronger, more durable and has better friction management than the current market leading brand. It can be an integral component in any offshore product where bearings must run dry, including rudders, turbines or centrifuges.
Another breakthrough product offered by Wilkie Offshore is the Extreema® sling, which is made from one of the strongest fibres in the world. These endless round slings are used for heavy lifting operations on vessels, turbines, pipes and virtually any piece of offshore machinery. The have up to a minimum breaking load (MBL) of 2500 t. This means they can be used for a vast array of lifting purposes. They are eight times lighter than steel on a weight for weight basis, become weightless in water and require less manpower. Such flexibility means they are in use around the world.
The company’s customers perform globally so we recently invested in a 180 000 2ft factory in Jiaxing, Shanghai. We produce in Scotland, China and India and sell to customers in Europe, the USA and Japan.
Our customers value our original thinking and our determination to try something new. They remain our focus at every stage in the process. We stay honest about costs and introduce renowned experts and partners for the best collaborative effort.
Once Wilkie Offshore have found out what our clients really need and the requirement of the end application, we strip the technology back to the fibre, choose the right chemistry, and then manufacture it in the right form to change our customer’s business.
Constant technological development is required by the entire oil and gas industry. By definition, invention disrupts the norm. Thinking differently thrives in turbulent economic times. We have seen both exciting and sometimes turbulent times for the industry and the many thousands of companies that play their part in the supply chain. Practical invention is appreciated by customers as it helps them overcome challenges or complete complex projects. For us it is why we exist; as without invention where would we be?
Adapted from a press release by Louise Mulhall