19 July, 2024

Atlas Copco expands workshop to meet rising demand from oil and gas industry

07 November, 2014

Atlas Copco’s Systems Hemel Hempstead custom engineering workshop has unveiled a £680,000 expansion of its facilities to meet rising global demand from the oil and gas industry. The workshop, which provides bespoke compressed air and nitrogen generation packages directly to UK customers and fulfils international orders on behalf of Atlas Copco companies overseas, has more than doubled in size following the investment.

The upgrade of the workshop in Hemel Hempstead has seen the total floor area expanded from its original 850m2 to 1950m2. A new mezzanine level has been built above a section of the workshop to accommodate a dedicated viewing area for customers to witness product testing as well as further offices for workshop personnel and a kitchen/rest area for engineers and contractors. An external 12m x 15m covered test area has also been built, adding a valuable additional space for testing large engineered packages.

The fluctuating man hours required to handle this type of work is done using a core of 45 Atlas Copco employees with some work sub-contracted when necessary to handle peak demands. This represents approximately 20 more employees than a decade ago.

Lean and 5S

Paul Frost, manager of Atlas Copco's Systems Division in Hemel Hempstead, commented: “Our workshop is now a truly world-class facility. We have a competitive base here in Hemel Hempstead, with professional, experienced electrical and mechanical design and project management staff, plus 40 years of expertise. We are proud to be investing in this local competence centre for compressed air and gas custom packages and we can now begin to introduce Lean working principles and the 5S system.”

Large engineered assemblies can now be moved around in the workshop more easily due to the provision of two new 5-tonne cranes, trackways and controls. Other new additions include a grit blast facility, two modern spray paint booths to replace the original single unit, an electrical panel housing 415 volt main contactors for safer and faster connections for compressor testing and a 1.5 mW fin/fan water cooler and pump. Completing the additions, three calibrated air flow tubes with remote read-out facility over the company’s LAN have been installed. These will be used for customer witness testing in accordance with ISO standards.

The majority of System’s end products are modular ‘plug and play’ packaged solutions, custom built and shipped with all components, such as compressors, air treatment, dryers, filters, air receivers and control systems, on a single base frame for integration with land-based or offshore process installations.

“Each project is different because customer requirements tend to be unique for the intended environment,” explained Frost. “We have recently supplied compressor packages which must operate in a range of temperatures from -40degC to +45degC in Russia and to an oil company in the Middle East where reliable operation at +55degC is required to withstand regular sand storms.”

A recent order was for compressed air and gas purification equipment to be delivered to the Tengizchevroil Future Growth Project and Wellhead Pressure Management Project. The total order value is close to €40 million (MSEK 370). Atlas Copco was selected to manufacture and deliver air compressors, cooling systems and air and gas purification packages to be installed as part of the project to expand production at the Tengiz oil and gas field in western Kazakhstan. The orders were placed in Q2 2014, and delivery is scheduled for early 2016.

Bespoke solutions

As one of the oldest organisations within the Atlas Copco Group and one of Atlas Copco’s five strategically located custom engineering centres, the Systems Hemel Hempstead workshop plays a major role in the supply of bespoke solutions across the globe meeting the needs of demanding applications within the worldwide energy, industry power and petrochemical markets.


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