Gears are essential parts to the workings of countless machines, but when those machines are dependent on specifically designed gears, then service and repair can become a special niche.
For Artec Machine, servicing equipment furnished with specially engineered gearing is at the very heart of what the company does.
“We consider ourselves a leader on high quality installations,” said John Amendola, CEO of Artec Machine. “We only work on engineered products. We don’t get involved much with commodity type gears. Gears that you can select out of a catalog, that’s not our business.”
Artec executes aftermarket-oriented repairs based on problem installations, as well as maintenance on existing installations, according to Amendola.
“We perform field maintenance; we do troubleshooting in the field; we do rebuilds, and we do redesigns,” he said. “We do some new installations, but I’d say with new applications, we’re sort of developing that as we go. This is relatively limited for us. Most of our business is aftermarket.”
Artec rebuilds gearboxes and conducts in house tests on them and, if required, in accordance with API 613. Artec also has installed a high-speed balancing machine and magnetic particle inspection booth. Gears that come into Artec are completely cleaned, overhauled, tested, painted, and shipped as new units.
Artec also offers field services including periodic maintenance inspections, condition reporting and analysis, onsite overhauls and gearbox repairs — including bearing/rotating equipment replacement — vibration analysis/diagnostics, and failure analysis. Other services include gear failure prevention, gear repair analysis, new gearbox installation/commissioning, specification review, and design upgrades.
Serving a range of industries
Artec participates in several different — and disparate — industries, including oil & gas, ski, cement, food, and wire. Their “uniqueness” is often what drives customers to the experts at Artec, according to Amendola.
“Our business is engineered products, and that’s why we’re a participant in the energy industry and the ski industry, because those gears are really technically designed around the service that they’re in,” he said. “And there are no two sites that are exactly alike. So, most of these applications are unique to that particular site.”
Gears at different locations may be similar in size and frame, but the ratios may be different or the powers may be slightly different, for example, according to Amendola.
“You certainly can see that in oil & gas such as in upstream installations there are no two sites alike,” he said. “The ski industry is the same way. You have two ski resorts where the locations are totally physically different. The loads are different because the environment is different. So, the gears are tailored for that particular site.”
In 2014, during an energy project for a floating platform owned by an oil company, Artec worked with the company with 72,000 HP machines that were struggling with tooth-contact failures, according to Dereck Yatzook, manager of Contract Engineering at Artec.
“There were two units on one FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) platform — 72,000 horsepower each, pitch line velocity of 145 meters per second,” he said. “We designed the toothing corrections and contracted the manufacturing of the new rotor sets and performed the commissioning to make sure that the customer had optimal tooth contact, and those have been running for many, many years now.”
Part of Artec’s approach to a customer’s challenge is its commitment to the job, according to Amendola.
“When we go on job sites, we do complete tear downs,” he said. “If it’s a major overhaul, or, if it’s practical, it would be moved to our shop.”
Temperature, noise, vibration
Artec approaches a challenge by looking at several areas that may indicate a problem: obvious changes in vibration, temperature, and noise, according to Amendola.
“These three criteria — temperature, noise, and vibration — are three physical signs of something happening,” he said. “Lubricant sampling and analysis is another important parameter. We try to get as much information as possible about a site beforehand.”
The next step after evaluating the situation is to determine a customer’s circumstances and if it can tolerate any downtime, according to Amendola.
“The ski industry, for example, has seasonal breaks; the energy industry doesn’t,” he said. “They’re more apt to have us go on site. The ski industry is mixed. They get downtime, so they can afford to send the gear here and live with the lead time necessary to get things overhauled. So, there are different demands based on the industry.”
The importance of education
Artec not only is committed to giving the best quality of workmanship to its customers, but Yatzook added another key commitment is Artec’s dedication to education.
“We want our customers to be informed about their installations,” he said. “We host a lot of maintenance seminars. We’re doing it for AGMA. We’ll be hosting a maintenance seminar in the fall at the Motion + Power Technology Expo (formerly Gear Expo).”
At AGMA’s Fall Technical Meeting, Artec will be presenting a paper, and Amendola said that, for the ski industry, Artec hosts a maintenance class for almost every exhibition it attends.
“We are very engaged in AGMA,” he said. “Our team shares activity in a number of committees that write the standards.”
In 2011, Artec presented a paper at FTM on material transformation in high-speed gears, according to Amendola.
“I think we’re the first ones to have put that experience in writing,” he said. “We discovered it entirely on our own through field inspections and came to find out that there was some written history by Darle Dudley that identified the problem but did not elaborate on it. There was no real experience where it actually impacted on the installations in the field. We found that; we reported that, and we wrote a paper on it.”
Diversifying its expertise
Amendola attributes Artec’s diverse portfolio to demands that are constantly shifting. When the company first began in 1972, it was heavily focused on energy, so much so that at one time it was 90 percent of Artec’s business. In the 1990s, Artec entered the cement industry, and that became a dominant part of the company’s work flow. But as that market ebbed more than a decade ago, Artec needed to look elsewhere to maintain business and apply its accumulated technology. Through a partnering relationship with Kissling AG in Switzerland, Artec entered the ski industry, as well as the food industry.
Both afford a stable business environment.
“If you take, for example, the ski industry; we’re in it, and yet, we see more opportunity there,” he said. “There is still room to grow, and it’s fairly steady. The food industry is another market for Artec. Artec has obtained a contract with a major food manufacturer. Artec maintains four spare co-rotating extruder drives supporting 17 global installations. When they have a facility down somewhere or they’re planning on shutting it down, we’ll ship the spare to that site, and they’ll ship the damaged gear back to us. We repair that, and then that becomes the spare.”
Artec’s ability to repair such a unique machine is part of the company’s special expertise, according to Amendola.
“It’s special, and we’ve learned how to disassemble and assemble those gears,” he said. “There’s a technique to it. You just can’t put a mechanic on it. He’s got to understand the timing of those elements in order for that gear to be assembled properly. That’s something that we’ve learned how to do. We had our fits learning the first couple of them. I mean we finally got it, but it would take us weeks to get it right. But now we understand how to do it, and we can do the assembly in one or two days. There’s a lot of in-house technique and technology here that we’ve developed working with these engineered-type gears.”
With its diverse portfolio of industries that it serves, Amendola expects Artec to keep expanding in those areas.
“I believe we’ll continue to grow in ski,” he said, “and we’ll stay with cement in a modest way. We definitely will continue to grow in food. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s a steady market. At the same time, Artec will remain in the energy market. That’s where our name is known and it is in the cutting edge of gear technology. If there is new equipment coming up somewhere, we’re a known entity that encourages people to come to us.”