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Custom Manufactured Optical Instruments for the Oil & Gas Industry


Across the USA from Texas to North Dakota, California to New Jersey, thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines carry flammable fluids under enormous pressure. These pipelines are exposed to the environment for decades so that corrosion can become a serious threat to pipe integrity, weakening the metal and increases the risk of explosions and leaks. To prevent this, pipeline operators undertake regular assessment of pipe condition to evaluate the degree of corrosion and develop safe operating parameters. A breakthrough new technology using optical instrumentation has now been pioneered by our customer to perform this assessment faster, more accurately, and at lower cost. BGM was involved with the product development from early on, manufacturing components to match the customer's SolidWorks 3D model. These custom precision metal and plastic components were produced for the first prototype and production models using a number of our high precision machining centers.

The instruments were predominantly made out of Anodized 6061 aluminum and measure approximately 9" long, 5" wide, and 3" high. Internally the instrument contains a number of sensitive electronic and high precision optical components. The complete electronic and optical assembly, programming and calibration of the instrument was performed by BGM in a dedicated anti-static clean room environment. In addition BGM also manufactured and certified a calibration standard for field validation of the instrument. Detailed documentation of testing and performance were collected and records kept ensuring traceability. Performance studies helped identify optimal settings and expected values. Extensive work instructions and production documentation guaranteed exact conformance to manufacturing requirements all controlled by BGM's strict ISO 9001 quality system.

At Blue Grass Manufacturing, we managed the complete bill of materials for the project manufacturing the metal parts; managing out sourced processes and purchasing the electronic and optical components. Typical orders were 10 to 40 instruments per month. In time, as the product matured, the customer developed their own assembly facility and migrated production back to their direct control, BGM helping and assisting with this transition, proud to have helped another fledging company take on the world a win.

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