In the midst of falling crude oil prices, major players in the North American energy sector are slowing or shutting down operations, contributing to 17,000 lost jobs in Canada’s natural resources sector in February, bringing losses in January and February to 26,000, mostly in British Columbia and Alberta.
But it’s not all duck and cover.
The people at Javelin Technologies, known across Canada for working alongside 3D designers to help turn their concepts into reality, are singing a different tune.
“In times of economic downturn, the people and businesses who use that time wisely will bounce back quickly,” says John Carlan, managing director at Javelin. “It’s certainly our philosophy here and we encourage that same vision in our customers.”
That’s why his tune includes singing the praises of one of Javelin’s largest oil & gas service customers in western Canada – Packers Plus Energy Services – where senior managers say they’re taking advantage of a slower pace by developing new products.
“When the industry drops off, we focus on creating the next generation of products,” says Jim Fehr, director of engineering at Packers Plus. “When prices rise, our customers will be ready to look at new developments that will help them take an oil field to the next level. We’ll be ready to go at 110 per cent.”
Packers Plus engineers, manufactures, and installs completion systems that enable oil and gas companies to stimulate horizontal wells in multiple stages. They are well known for applying technology to improve down hole equipment and operations, and for their expertise in technically challenging environments. Packers Plus has employees in 32 offices in Canada, the United States, and across the globe.
“If we’re not already at top efficiency in some aspect of our work, we want to get there,” Fehr says. “Right now we’re focusing even more on eliminating waste and improving quality, asking ourselves if there’s anything we could do differently to design and build faster.”
Javelin Technologies is a certified reseller for SolidWorks® computer-aided design (CAD) software and a full range of Stratasys 3D printers that can produce true-to-life models, prototypes, and parts. Carlan says Javelin can play a key role now training or retraining people to use the tools, whether it’s software or a 3D printer, for maximum efficiency.
“We’re here to help people reach their full potential,” he says. “Now’s the time for oil and gas sector companies to take a critical look at their 3D design processes. While the industry has been booming, they haven’t had the time to do that.”
Of course, Javelin and its customers have endured challenging times before. In 2007, when the Canadian dollar began to creep closer to par with the U.S. dollar, around the time of worldwide economic downturn, an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement heated up at Fortress Technology, based in Canada but selling its industrial metal detectors in food, lumber, and pharmaceutical markets worldwide.
“When factors like the exchange rate affect your business, you look for ways to cut costs and find efficiencies, ” says Dominic Locas, product development and IT manager at Fortress Technology. “That’s when we first invested in design automation software with Javelin. It helped us get rid of the bottlenecks so we can quickly configure our products to order, generate quotes faster than our competitors, and allow the designers to focus on the creative work. Repetitive work isn’t just boring, it’s costing you money.”
And as Carlan says, “Now’s the time to invest the time.”
“We want to say to our customers, ‘you can do it, we’ll help you however we can.’ Maybe we can help them automate some processes or test new ideas. This is a great time for investment in research and development, or to shift into entirely new markets so they are not locked into supporting only oil and gas production. There is no better time to push yourself to do better.”