Thousands of kilometers of innovation

The company "Pskovgeokabel" learned to create and develop innovative products for their production equipment.

The main direction of the plant — load-bearing geophysical armored cables.

The plant developed a special "Automated control and registration process", allowing full control of the entire process of production and in time to correct deviations from the specified parameters.


 Photo source:elec.ru


 Photo source:elec.ru

Engineers businesses themselves design equipment for the manufacture of new products. Most of the sites do the same yourself some standard items bought by Russian machine-building plants and re-buy electronics in the West.
Increasing the share of innovative products in the turnover of the company, "Pskovgeokabel" every year creates two or three brand new product and about hundreds of versions of their cables for different tasks. For the smooth operation of this "innovation pipeline" critical factors are access to the original equipment and qualified personnel.

U.S. intelligence agencies strongly alerted when New Orleans — the largest U.S. oil port — has entered the Russian research vessel "John Doe." In the past, the main purpose of the second vessel of this type was intelligence: under the guise of scientific research, they were herded in neutral waters near the potential enemy, capturing all the maneuvers of its naval forces.

But this time the U.S. aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered Russian absolutely no interest. "John Doe" delivered from Arkhangelsk winch with marine geophysical cable, with which the U.S. firm Seismic Science intended to carry out a pilot exploration of oil in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico a fundamentally new method based on the polarization of the electrical impulses as they pass through the hydrocarbon reservoir.

However, the Americans in this "legend" and did not believe in the guise of a technician was sent on board the "Ivan Petrov" CIA officer, who throughout the expedition did not take his eyes off the Russian engineers vozivshihsya around the winch cable. The unique electrical cable for minerals on the sea has developed and manufactured a company "Pskovgeokabel."

Do not let the wax freeze
"You learn how to do logging cable is not earlier than twenty-five years" — that was the verdict of French firm Vector Cable, a leading global manufacturer geokabelya owned by Schlumberger. It was about the most ordinary geokabele, which is traditionally used for the study of experimental exploration wells in the oil industry for the diagnosis of existing wells.

During Soviet times, such cables supplied the whole country Tashkent cable plant, but after the collapse of the Union, he turned the production, and by the mid 90’s this tasty segment of the Russian market took American and French companies. Then the Ministry of Energy has set a target to create in Russia’s own specialized production logging cables. In 1995, its solutions and the company was formed "Pskovgeokabel."

Learning of this, Vector Cable, a trendsetter in the market, offered for ten years to pass the Pskov part of its technology. But asked for a very decent fee. And in Pskov decided, can handle themselves. "Pskovgeokabel" was released on the market a year later — in ’96. The first domestic geokabel is not inferior to foreign analogues and cost half the price. This success has provided a team of Victor Miller, who worked at that time in the Pskov Cable Plant, on the basis of which began "Pskovgeokabel."

The production base of the company was created on the principle of "Western standard equipment plus their own brains": traditional cable production line, bought in Germany, Pskov engineers have built and perfected themselves. Themselves have developed and all software for imported equipment.

Gradually "Pskovgeokabel" has mastered the domestic market, bringing its stake in it to 48%. The main and almost the only products of the company at that time was the standard geokabel for geophysical research: up to 2003, its share in turnover was 95%. By the time this became very narrow sector closely: in addition to good quality pskovityan geokabel learned to Magnitogorsk "Galway", "PermGeoKabel" and St. Petersburg "Sevgeokabel." It became apparent that in this niche tends to increase the company can not count on that: the whole domestic market, taking into account the needs of the countries of the CIS, is only about 400 million rubles.

"Pskovgeokabel" decided to learn another area — a segment of repair and maintenance of oil wells. This market has attracted Pskov company of interesting problems — there was a lot to make engineering ingenuity. And in terms of, it is ten times greater than the segment of Geophysical Research. To express themselves in this new field, "Pskovgeokabel" bet on innovation. In 2004, the company has shipped the first 40 km non-serial samples. This year will have already attained 2,000 kilometers innovation. "The last five years we develop and build momentum through innovative products: from nearly five hundred titles produced by the company geokabeley only ten — standard serial stamps, others — non-standard. They account for 45 percent of our output, "- says Andrew Robin, CEO of" Pskovgeokabel. "

The innovation strategy of the company envisages to market not only new types of carrying cables and the new integrated technology solutions. These solutions squeezed past generations technique already established markets as cables made from reinforced shell and even create new products, such as heating cable, which prevents the oil contained in the paraffin to freeze and form a plug in the wellbore.

In the waters of Lake Baikal
Cable invented about 150 years ago. Its main feature — the transfer of power. Cable-to-cable brought to the market in the 30’s of last century, the Schlumberger brothers — the founders of today’s largest oilfield services company Slumberger. The peculiarity of this cable in that it works vertically, and consequently must withstand its own weight (the weight of armored cable several kilometers long can reach 12-15 tons) and the weight of equipment mounted thereon.

Since then, no revolutions in the cable industry did not occur. The traditional load-bearing cables today as in the past century, composed of conductive wires, adhesive coating and the metal armor. And this process "trunk" as branches, bud ever new directions — as develop other industries and make demands on the load-carrying cables to solve their problems. For example, the rapid growth of the telecommunications industry has spawned the cable wire, more like a copper tube, which is used to transmit high-frequency signals to a cell tower. A need for a fiber-optic cables, load bearing arose in connection with the improvement of information technology. "Pskovgeokabel" has mastered the whole bush of the spin-off areas, creating several families of innovative products — heating cables, floating cables, umbilicals and so on.

The history of the birth of one of the most successful innovations "Pskovgeokabel" is associated with a large science. In 2003, the Institute for Nuclear Research (INR) turned in Pskov company with a request to create a cable that would be
able to provide Energy equipment deployed in Lake Baikal deep-water neutrino detector and data from his recording modules for repeaters (on the Baikal project, see "big Barguzine science "in" Expert »№ 17, 2008). Features of work in the depths of Lake Baikal required the cable design precluded galvanic corrosion and water penetration to current-carrying veins at pressures above 100 atmospheres. "The water in the lake is fresh, but when working apparatus having the so-called stray currents, which are corrosive exterior, load-bearing metal cable armor — explains Andrew Robin. — To avoid metal contact with the water, we have developed the technology of manufacturing the cable sheath of polymer reinforced with steel wire. The result is resistant to corrosion and very durable stalepolimer. "

This cable is for five years running smoothly in the depths of Lake Baikal, the scientists recall with gratitude the Pskov company.

According to the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Domogatskii Gregory, head of the project "The Baikal neutrino telescope" on the cable scholars have paid little implausible. What happened was that when it came time to pay for the ordered with Pskov cable, they have been available only half the required amount. No cable next expedition on Lake Baikal would be disrupted. All this is honestly told Robin. "Worldwide, science can be help — CEO responded" Pskovgeokabel "- Take over as much as is." And how many scientists would then either tried to return to Robin duty, he did not take the money.

Reinforced polymer technology proved to be very promising direction, and now "Pskovgeokabel" creates the basis for its innovative new products. One of them is willing to buy Russian and Kazakh mines, where mining uranium, copper and molybdenum leaching is conducted with the use of corrosive acids. Stalepolimera life in such an environment and a half to two times larger than that applied hitherto rubberized cable.

Another modification of the Baikal cable will eventually become an alternative to coiled tubing (from the English. Coiled tubing — «pipe, coiled") — the traditional technology of repair of existing wells, involving the injection of water into the well to wash her stem from the traffic jams formed by resin and sand supply hole in various chemical reagents. To accomplish these operations, a special unwinding reel made of special alloy steel flexible tube length of 3-4 km, and lowering it into the well. Only two plants in the world do those flexible pipes, both are in the U.S. Houston.

"A couple of years ago we had the idea to create an alternative to steel pipe resin pipe reinforced with steel. And we did it in the same way as you did the cable jacket for the Baikal detector, — says Andrey Robin. — This tube is the same as steel, but the time to failure in her three times, and associated equipment needed to work with it, is five times cheaper than ten million rubles, or about four hundred thousand dollars to two million dollars . " According to estimates of Pskov, umbilicals (the so-called new product) can displace the traditional multi-ton coiled tubing units with about half of their market.

Another interesting innovation "Pskovgeokabel" — load-carrying cable, the core of which is the fiber. This cable is a distributed sensor. It can keep online monitoring wells, shafts and the seabed, by measuring the reflected optical signal from the pressure, temperature and radiation spectrum in real time, without stopping the process of oil production.

"Usually the fiber is used for communication lines. There he was paved and forgotten. And here it must constantly work: it will be unwound from the reel and reel back. Therefore, the cable must be flexible. But the fiber itself is non-extensible — it’s glass "- explains what was the complexity of the design, Andrew Robin. Engineers’ Pskovgeokabel "managed to reconcile the irreconcilable easy and cheap: Pskov cable costs 1.7 million dollars per kilometer, and its Western counterparts — 20 thousand first use load-bearing optical cable beginning NPF" Logging ", specializing in servicing oil wells. "It used to have to pass out of the well up a static picture — digitized photographs on the electrical channel, — says Vladimir Chermensky, deputy director of the company," Logging. " — Now, thanks to the Pskov cable with fiber optic communication link, which we re-equipped camera, you can get a dynamic picture of the well. It allowed us to see what was previously been unavailable inflows into the well fluid, clear images of defects of the column, and so on. " Commercial operation of the new cable began in May of this year. It is already used in TNK-BP, «Lukoil" and "Rosneft".

On the Navy
The solution to gain a foothold in the segment of repair and maintenance of oil wells was absolutely right. By that year, when the return of standard logging cable dropped to nearly zero, the company has had in its portfolio of high-margin innovative products. For example, the profitability of heating cables is 45%, and return of the family of cables with reinforced sheath — 35%.

Increasing the share of innovative products in the turnover of the company, "Pskovgeokabel" every year creates two or three brand new product and about hundreds of versions of their cables for different tasks. For the smooth operation of this "innovation pipeline" critical factors are access to the original equipment and qualified personnel.

In the Soviet Union there was no domestic production of equipment for the cable industry (it did in Hungary and East Germany). Accordingly, it is not in Russia. And in the West is now impossible to buy even standard equipment, not to mention the specific all European plants with orders (mostly — from Southeast Asian countries) for several years. So "Pskovgeokabel" had to be put on all their innovation cross, if it were not for the company’s ability to create their own production facilities.

Engineers businesses podnatorevshie on fine-tuning the German lines, with 1999 themselves design equipment for the manufacture of new products. Most of the sites do the same yourself some standard items bought by Russian machine-building plants and re-buy electronics in the West.

"Last year, the customer has ordered us a cable for the new equipment used in the trawl fleet. The problem seemed to be an interesting, but the equipment and manufacturing techniques such cables we did not have, and the terms of the Order were very tough. Two evenings of my colleagues and I sat and pomozgovali and eventually came up here this machine that allows you to overlay reinforced tape screens at the same time, — says Andrey Robin story of the birth setting, we passed, taking advantage of a tempting offer to make a brief tour of the production. — Who are the new charge, is also very interesting cable for the military. " Navy Russia Pskov is a regular customer of the company — the military needs hundreds of kilometers offshore geokabeley for the new generation of tracking systems for submarines and combat divers, underwater vehicles for towing and for other purposes.

On one side you can see the very original device — a brand-new car wheel tire fixed at a height of two meters. In the rubber tires are cut by deep-groove guides for cable. Nearby on a rope suspended from a massive lead ingot. This device is designed to pull the cable ready before it is wound on a drum transport and sent to the customer.

We are staying near the outlandish devices — preformatora. Its purpose — a special way to deform the wire before they become armored cable. Preformator does with wires about the same as the curlers — with hair: straight wire come out of this device long spirals of a given pitch between the coils. This un
it depends on how precisely and tightly steel wire will be on the delicate core of the cable.

Preformator — the pride of the company’s engineers. "This device is developed by ourselves. Its main advantages — the accuracy and ease of adjustment, — says Andrey Robin about his brainchild. — This technology is unique in the world. "

The renewed tour brings another batch of new knowledge. "We are the only company in Russia to produce geokabel studies of horizontal wells, — says Robin, as long as we make our way carefully in the narrow aisles between the very long — up to 80 meters — process units and semi-finished blanks. — For cable can be pushed into a horizontal shaft, we make it a variable thickness: thick sections weigh down with lead, their weight would be about 2.5 tons per kilometer, and doing fine as light as possible, but hard. "

For industrial technologists almost every new order — the next experiment. This is the main difference between the process of manufacture of non-standard cables from serial production. "With the mass production of manufacturing operations — the units, and manufacture non-standard samples would require 10, 15 or even 17 operations. From the first time may not turn — says Anatoly Aksenov, Head of Production "Pskovgeokabel" — Sometimes, all done, and the last time — bummer. We have to start all over again — to make a few kilometers of cable again. "

Specificity cable industry — the greater length of the final product: the cables intended for use in oil wells, mines and oceans, reaching 8-10 km. If this length will be at least one portion of the marriage have to throw out all the tried and tested kilometers — short pieces can not be sold. To prevent a single failure on many kilometers of cable, the people at the factory are working in three shifts — day and night, including weekends and holidays.

Staying in engineers
Of the 138 person staff Pskov company engineers, designers and technicians directly involved in the creation of new products, up 35%. Major concerns are the company feels the lack of designers who are able to design new equipment for the plant itself, and wells. However, to expand the design service is not easy. According to Andrew Robin, trained specialists now you will not find at any price, and the quality of university graduates is not even approximately corresponds to the requirements of technology businesses.

Features of innovation in small companies have their effect on the requirements for a qualified technician. "In large enterprises, where there is a large engineering and design departments, the engineer can afford to do one narrow task. In a small company, especially if it is constantly creating new products, the engineer must be a generalist. He should know what is right and to the left of his area of expertise, know and hydraulics and mechanics, and programming languages, and, most importantly, do not be afraid to act beyond their areas of expertise — in the effectiveness of this approach Andrew Robin firsthand. — I teach its engineers to think big and plan to read lectures in our Polytechnic to form the youth, this type of thinking. "

Given the shortage of personnel "Pskovgeokabel" can cope with even the most difficult problems not by quantity, but by quality engineering and technical personnel. Andrew Robin considers "core competencies" of their team experience and perseverance. Successful innovations created by this team, won "Pskovgeokabel" the reputation of the company, which is taken to solve the problem of any non-standard customer. Potential clients come to call and come in Pskov share their problems. Another challenge comes at a time when we are discussing with the CEO as the company arranged management of the innovation process. "This will be another innovation — announces Andrew Robin, ending a two-minute conversation on the phone. — Customer need to monitor the wells with heavy oil (bitumen) in Tatarstan. To deflate the bitumen, it is first heated up by injecting steam into the well. They nuzhe n cable, which can be forced into the steam hole and still see where the steam leaves. Our load-carrying optical cable allows thermometry wells in continuous mode. But it is designed to operate at a temperature of 120 degrees, and they need to cable withstand 260 degrees. "

Robin comes out of the office to set up a new challenge to the chief engineer, and at the door throws: "Nothing will do — do not flow!" And I was reminded of a favorite — with the words of the workers — a phrase Director: "We will make all that is not contrary to the laws of physics . " That CEO, specialty — engineer electric drives and automation is a key driver of innovation. "I am of the number of engineers themselves are not crossed out — says Robin. — This is my way of life. In another way, I’m not interested. "

According to estimates of Robin, the creation of the modification of optical cable for steam wells required for three months. Such a short time from order to develop to the finished product combined with a willingness to meet all the requirements of each customer — the tangible benefits of Pskov. Clients understand this and appreciate it.

To press Schlumberger
In the domestic market, which is currently working Pskov company, he has no strong competitors. Small niche geofizkabelya long divided between the "Pskovgeokabel" and the three above-named players, and none of the trio does not seek to conquer new heights.

In the segment of repair and maintenance of wells, none of the Russian companies still can not come up with new products and sell at the same rate as they do in Pskov. And the ubiquitous Chinese are not ready to take on the production of single samples of products for specific customer requirements — this is not their element.

With Western firms’ Pskovgeokabel "directly causes collision has not had: since strengthened domestic manufacturers, their products on the Russian market can not withstand price competition. On the world market, "Pskovgeokabel" does not work yet, but sporadic supply cables in Poland, Spain, France, Syria and Colombia suggests that Pskov company is well able to compete with foreign producers carrying cables in their territory. Especially as most of the potential Western competitors’ Pskovgeokabel "- this is a relatively small company in the structure of Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and other service giants, who plays the role of the manufacturer of consumables for the parent company. "Pskovgeokabel" objectively stronger than them in some aspects.

"Recently, I visited the factory Schlumberger, which produces geokabeli. This is not a factory, and the resort — shares his impressions of the visit to a competitor Andrew Robin. — The production plan they painted for six months ahead, we are working "on wheels", the plan is for up to a month, and even he has to constantly make adjustments. Their main products — three or four standard size cable, and every month we are doing at least eight to ten non-standard cables. The lengths of the cables released they are fixed — 5 and 10 kilometers, and we do as much as ask the customer — up to 50 meters. The materials they use the most expensive, for example the European wire Bridon, while for us to win tenders, we have to constantly pick up and test a new, cheaper materials. "

Another argument in favor of the Pskov competitiveness in the global market — a successful expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. "For it was necessary to make the electrical cable with a deep neutral buoyancy. For this we need to develop new technologies and materials that we have never worked, — says Andrey Robin. — The cables were presented conflicting requirements. In particular, it should contain copper wire and thus did not
have to sink. Traditionally used for this foaming agents. But foamed polymers lose strength and the cable had to work at depths of up to 2,500 meters at a pressure of 250 atmospheres. Therefore, to reduce the share of cable had to quickly look for other materials. This material were hollow glass microspheres. "

And Pskov cable in that campaign showed the highest grade. In particular, it was possible to detect that one of the wells in the Gulf of Mexico was drilled 100 meters away from the oil reservoir, in one more broken too well, the oil found in the other horizon — not where it was made perforation.

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