Diversification from Oil & Gas - Where do you search for ideas?
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    Default Diversification from Oil & Gas - Where do you search for ideas?

    First time poster, but a heavy reader in my down time.

    A bit of my back story, I am one of the owners of a small deep hole drilling shop in Alberta. Owning a shop of my own has been a dream since I was about 16 and its finally coming to fruition. Currently we have 4 drilling machines, with an offer just accepted on a 5th and we should see that set up and operational sometime just after Christmas. We are busy right now, busiest we have been since we opened 5 years ago but looking to the future I want us to diversify. 95% of our customers are oil and gas - specifically down hole tooling and it has treated it well, but like everything with a heavy boom and bust cycle the time will come again when the floor is empty. So I want to start working on diversification now while times are good but talking with our clients and others in our industry has not yielded a lot of ideas of what industry to diversify into given our equipment set ups. Or current capacity is able to drill from 1/4" ID x 60" OAL all the way up to 7" x 120" with that increasing to 10" ID x 160" with the arrival of our new machine. We have tossed around a ton of ideas on buying new machines and equipment, but I feel we need to find an industry to cater to before we look at any new equipment.

    I was hoping to get some ideas of other industries where drilling is used, my experience in machining as a whole is very limited to drilling for oil tooling and field boring, and so is my network. I have explored medical manufacturing and aerospace, which have very small industries in Alberta with limited success. We have one client that has started working on rail car components which occasionally need drilling on cast components, but again a very small industry. Open surface mining and the associated manufacturing, upstream/downstream/midstream and their associated manufacturing (pumps, vessels, valves etc) and drilling are the majority of our industry here that I am aware of but I don't know of anywhere they use drilling besides down hole tooling. So, Practical Machinist community - any ideas?

    -Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by PCannon View Post
    First time poster, but a heavy reader in my down time.

    A bit of my back story, I am one of the owners of a small deep hole drilling shop in Alberta. Owning a shop of my own has been a dream since I was about 16 and its finally coming to fruition. Currently we have 4 drilling machines, with an offer just accepted on a 5th and we should see that set up and operational sometime just after Christmas. We are busy right now, busiest we have been since we opened 5 years ago but looking to the future I want us to diversify. 95% of our customers are oil and gas - specifically down hole tooling and it has treated it well, but like everything with a heavy boom and bust cycle the time will come again when the floor is empty. So I want to start working on diversification now while times are good but talking with our clients and others in our industry has not yielded a lot of ideas of what industry to diversify into given our equipment set ups. Or current capacity is able to drill from 1/4" ID x 60" OAL all the way up to 7" x 120" with that increasing to 10" ID x 160" with the arrival of our new machine. We have tossed around a ton of ideas on buying new machines and equipment, but I feel we need to find an industry to cater to before we look at any new equipment.

    I was hoping to get some ideas of other industries where drilling is used, my experience in machining as a whole is very limited to drilling for oil tooling and field boring, and so is my network. I have explored medical manufacturing and aerospace, which have very small industries in Alberta with limited success. We have one client that has started working on rail car components which occasionally need drilling on cast components, but again a very small industry. Open surface mining and the associated manufacturing, upstream/downstream/midstream and their associated manufacturing (pumps, vessels, valves etc) and drilling are the majority of our industry here that I am aware of but I don't know of anywhere they use drilling besides down hole tooling. So, Practical Machinist community - any ideas?

    -Paul


    Injection molds require a ton of deep hole drilling. Especially larger molds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toolmaker96 View Post
    Injection molds require a ton of deep hole drilling. Especially larger molds.
    Yup, there is allot of plastic mold work around here, and gun drilling.

    The beeg question now is....How many injection molds are being made nearby
    your location ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Yup, there is allot of plastic mold work around here, and gun drilling.

    The beeg question now is....How many injection molds are being made nearby
    your location ?
    There seem to be a couple manufacturers in the city I am in, definitely not a huge industry. Google oil tool, you get 50+ results, do the same for injection mold and you get 3 or 4. But I've reached out to the ones I could find contacts for so we will see how that turns out, if they even use it in their business.

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    Are you doing your own sharpening? Mostly gun drills?

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiganbuck View Post
    Are you doing your own sharpening? Mostly gun drills?
    We have one gun drill, and 3 BTA style ejector drills using index-able heads from Ingersoll. We do sharpen our gun drills in house though.

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    I sharpened single flutes in a model B type from Eldorado/Star and double flutes through a close size bushing and the tail end on a center, with the lip edge below center for clearance..then drop to a second step in the tooth rest finger for going from primary to secondary.

    I made a shank bushing to stabilize the shank end on the Eldorado and so got a better edge finish. Using mostly a 320-plate mounted wheel for the Eldorado, and a 320Gt mostly and occasionally a 500gt cup wheel on the two flutes. both operations using a Cincinnati #2 Tc grinder.

    Gun reamers were done between a front and tail center..so leaving the front center for the life of the reamer.

    Guess now if I was running gun drills and reamers, I would grind secondary first. then with coolant go back and tick the primary. yes, through a close bushing ant the tail on a center.

    Between centers I would cross the secondary back and forth to give the effect of a radial relief grind.
    the eldorado was just a roll to the wheel with the fixture making primary and secondary.

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    Jack hammer tools? Hydralic cylinder work? Since you deal with long holes how about the opposite and work on long rollers. field boring of earth moving equipment hinge pins etc.
    Bill D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Jack hammer tools? Hydralic cylinder work? Since you deal with long holes how about the opposite and work on long rollers. field boring of earth moving equipment hinge pins etc.
    Bill D
    Me thinks your not really understanding the OP's sit-you-a-tion....

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    A few pictures of your equipment and type of work might help.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDegenhart View Post
    A few pictures of your equipment and type of work might help.

    Tom
    I don't have any pictures with me, but I described the type of work we do in my original post pretty well I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Jack hammer tools? Hydralic cylinder work? Since you deal with long holes how about the opposite and work on long rollers. field boring of earth moving equipment hinge pins etc.
    Bill D
    I haven't looked into jack hammer tools, but I will check that and hydraulic cylinders out, there are a couple local manufacturers here. Our equipment is all specifically designed for drilling, so outside finishing is not possible unfortunately. But we have been exploring the idea of getting another machine to expand into this, but wanted to look into other industries before we did so we could make sure we could service them.

    As far as field boring, there is quite a bit of work for that here but is mostly oil and gas related as well.

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    Gun drilling axle shafts/ making axle shafts though you'd need a mill or gear hob for splines and the OD turning and polishing can be done on a manual lathe. I worked at a shop that made axle shafts and sway bars, some were sent out to get gun drilled but not a ton. Very popular with desert racers. Knowing the motorsports industry helps. Not sure who is making axle shafts in Canada these days.

    Racecar part weight reduction would be another thing I could see some people interested in. Paying all the bills with motorsports isn't easy but it might be a good "filler" for your shop. The shop I worked at started as a mold shop and got into motorsports I believe in 2008 when the economy tanked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PCannon View Post
    Our equipment is all specifically designed for drilling, so outside finishing is not possible unfortunately.
    You could expand your hole finishing capabilities with skive burnishing and/or hone machines. Hydraulic cylinders are often skived and burnished.

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    Sounds like a specialty service where a really good website that easily shows up top on a search could pay off, have the work find you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CAMasochism View Post
    You could expand your hole finishing capabilities with skive burnishing and/or hone machines. Hydraulic cylinders are often skived and burnished.
    We're looking at grabbing a hone(s) next year, looking like heading that way for the hydraulic worth is more in line with what we're after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SND View Post
    Sounds like a specialty service where a really good website that easily shows up top on a search could pay off, have the work find you.
    Yeah, we're top 3 of google searches in our area but the website could definitely use a revamp. In that same token, if I could tailor it to talk about other industries we might work in, might help with the hits when they are searching.

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    to your question, how do you find ideas, see the people. Business ideas are filling a need or want and if you're not experiencing the need or want, its hard to crystal ball it. Its got be a bit targeted, but basically get in front of more people, find out what the pain is and in context of what you do maybe a solution emerges. Trade show floors, in something relative, and introducing yourself to a 100 people (attendees ideally, not sales reps in a booth) is guaranteed to generate some ideas. Or go start seeing customers and chatting them up, or bang on the door of the plant down the street, whatever....but somehow see more people. Like sales 9/10 or 99/100 will flop....but you eventually you will get a winner

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    I'm not sure how far away you are from the Seattle Washington / Portland Oregon areas, but I'd explore that area some. Look for larger-capacity machines shops maybe that might need your deep-hole drilling support. You have Boeing in Seattle, and lots of US Navy activity in the area. I'm sure between Boeing & the Navy, someone needs some deep holes drilled.


    But Mcgyver probably posted the most relevant means for finding a solution - Put on a smile and go pound the streets.

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    Looking into the US probably is the best option indeed, just like all the oil companies that left Alberta for the US did the last 4 years, and more to go with the results we got on Monday and the layoffs that followed on Tuesday... good luck and be careful with the $.

    I know one Alberta guy that got more into construction/food plant/agri related work than oil last few years as they haven't entirely killed that off yet, but its mostly repair, not much brand new investment. There's been some talk of that LGN plant in BC, but also lots of talk its all getting made in China, so I don't know if anyone here will get much work out of that, probably still worth a look, I'm sure they'll need something fixed or remade right.

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