It’s often said that two heads are better than one. When each party plays to his strengths, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Twenty years ago last month, a pair of co-workers at a machine shop in British Columbia had a meeting of the minds and branched out on their own.
They set up shop in a 3,000-square-foot building and equipped it with the basic tools necessary to serve the gearing needs of local industries — lathes, hobbing machines, shaping machines and a staff of three people.
Through multiple expansions over the course of two decades, Delta Dynamics Inc. has both broadened its physical footprint and narrowed its business focus.
The company, founded by president Stephen Wrixon and vice president Garth Ross, now specializes in gear and power transmission component manufacturing almost exclusively for the oil and gas industry. Currently, a staff of 60 works in three shifts, seven days per week, from the company’s 25,000-square-foot facility in Delta, British Columbia.
“Our bread-and-butter right now is the oil and gas drilling industry,” Ross said. “That came about through an evolution, which began when we did some work for some engineering groups that were involved in that business. Customers were coming to us with that requirement. We realized that there seems to be a big need in that market. As they were coming to us, we started going to them. We recognized that people wanted the service, and we identified other people in the same industry that would probably also need that service and did.
Within the industry, Delta Dynamics’ expertise and experience lies in assisting its clients with the engineering, design and prototyping of the drive systems for drill rigs — an area in which clients often don’t have capabilities.
“Most often, our client comes to us knowing what they want for a drive configuration, which motor they might like to use and what they intend to drive, but are unclear on how to design or specify the gear set to achieve the design goals,” Ross said. “That’s were we come in. We’ll take the input and output power and suggest a gear set to most economically and practically achieve the goal. We then offer all the design detail to support the design to current international standards, which they can keep for their design verification. We also help with drawing review to ensure all the required information is on the drawing and that they are well designed for manufacturing. We try to maintain a very close product knowledge and relationship with our customers.”
Delta Dynamics builds those relationships for the long term, thanks largely to its commitment to putting in considerable thought and effort in the early stages of design and development.
“Our primary forte is in design-for-manufacturing assistance for design engineers,” Ross said. “We are heavily involved in many prototype designs and collaborate with engineers to ensure drawing specifications are realistic, economical and practical. We help to define materials, heat-treating, dimensions, tolerances and quality-control specifications. The design consultation is offered at no charge to our customers and is a great tool for young engineers or those with little experience in the gear design discipline.”
That meticulous attention to detail in the design phase and beyond, combined with very high standards of quality and accuracy, comprises Delta Dynamics’ core operating philosophy. “What customers primarily recognize in us is our quality,” Ross said. “Working on the design side, what we very often see is prototypes. It’s a brand-new product — it’s never been made. The engineers have designed it, and, now, they have to make one. They have to run it through their tests. What we’re very good at is making the very first one correctly. It’s easy to go into production and make hundreds of parts once you’ve proved out the process, but trying to design a perfect process for the very first one, hit all the dimensions properly, is a different story. Often, once we’ve got the drawing, we realize that it’s not going to work very well, so we’re going to have to make some modifications and drawing revisions.”
It’s within that process of assessment and revision — often many times over until the design is finalized — where close, direct collaboration with the customer comes full circle from the company’s beginnings, resulting in an altogether different meeting of the minds.
“We’re probably best known to our customers for that ability to work in a collaborative way with them as if they were in our own machine shop,” Ross said. “We want them to imagine that we are the machine shop in their building. We want them to tell us what they want. That collaboration usually ends up with a pretty good prototype, and they’re able to have their own success.”
One example of how this collaboration benefits oil and gas customers specifically lies in Delta Dynamics’ distinction of being certified by the American Petroleum Institute — a standards and certification body within the oil and gas industry that maintains stringent quality-control standards for equipment.
“We became API-certified about five years ago, and that allows us to work with the oil field companies a little bit easier,” Ross said. “With the certification, they have assurance that our product meets the level of quality control that they need to put into their product so that it can be certified as well. Our API quality-control certification ensures that all our manufacturing meets the rigorous demands of the API QC regime. API has been described as ‘ISO on steroids,’ and yet, we are ISO 9001:2008 certified as well. We are one of very few API certified gear shops in North America.”
Ross attributes Delta Dynamics’ ability to carry out its unique collaborative customer service methods to the elite skills, knowledge and training of its workforce.
“It is the staff that allows us to be successful,” Ross said. We often wonder — and have been asked why work comes to us in Canada all the way from the southern Oil Field States. The best answer is the level of training with our machinists. In Canada, we have a great Federal and Provincial apprenticeship training and certification program. Most of our machinists are ‘Red Seal’ Journeyman Machinists. This means that they have been through a 4-year apprenticeship, with six to seven weeks of mandatory classroom instruction annually. We also train our own apprentices, and the schooling offers them versatility that can’t often be realized from a single shop. As one of our engineering customers says: ‘Just ‘cause you have a stove doesn’t mean you can cook.’
For More Information:
On Delta Dynamics Inc. visit www.deltadynamics.com or contact them at (604) 940-1015.