Repair Technology: Climax Portable Machine Tools New Tooling, Training Solutions Target Shipbuilding

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

A common thread found in shipyards — across the nation and around the world; among builders of the most massive oceangoing ships to builders of the smallest inland boats — is the need to outfit and maintain a well-trained workforce; one that knows how to use the latest technology efficiently.

Helping to fulfill this need with renewed vigor is Oregon-based Climax Portable Machine Tools, Inc., a manufacturer who for 37 years has made its business out of producing all types of manufacturing processes streamlined and efficient, as attested by its 20 patents.

The company recently launched a targeted initiative for the world's ship and boatbuilding industry, as it sees an unrivaled opportunity to tap markets new and old. In essence, Climax is offering comprehensive services that include engineering consulting services and specialized training in machining techniques, in addition to its entire line of portable machine tools.

"We're helping to bring the machine shop to the problem, rather than the problem to the machine shop," said Geoff Gilmore, Ph.D., P.E., President & CEO. Specifically, the company is looking at situations where it is often impossible or impractical to move or dismantle equipment in order to service or re-tool it. "Our vision is to advance the shipbuilding industry by creating powerful and precise portable machine tools and offering the training and engineering services needed to help this industry improve overall productivity and profitability. We want them to come to only one supplier … we want them to come to us, with their problem, and we'll provide them the solutions."

Climax sees opportunity both inside the U.S. and far outside its borders, and is aggressively pursing the initiative internationally. Andy Becker, director of marketing, credits Climax's network of 23 worldwide distributors, including a very strong distributor in China, as instrumental to its market penetration. China has been very active for the past few years, with a pressing need to update its facilities and equipment. The massive shipyard in Dalian, for example, recently bought some tools, and is now in need of training.

Training = Efficiency

Climax's initiative is far from a tool's based solution, as the company is currently putting the finishing touches on its all-encompassing training program that is designed to fill a void. Though worlds apart, the needs in the U.S. and China, for example, are strikingly similar, as the U.S. shipbuilders have watched experienced workers exit with market attrition, and a recent influx of business means a young new generation needs training.

In China the situation is different, yet similar, as a massive workforce is in need of training as the newbuild market quickly ramps up. China also realized the need to invest in modern facilities and tool systems in order to attract new, higher level customers, Gilmore said. Through the solutions package, Climax engineers help shipbuilding and repair organizations develop cost-effective solutions for the building process, and for the retrofit or re-design of outdated equipment. The company's training offerings also help diversify the skill sets of overspecialized workers or expand the skills of under-trained machinists.

Climax Portable Machine Tools provides its solutions to shipbuilders like Northrop Grumman/Ingalls, General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman/Newport News, as well as to service organizations within these industries.

Climax Meets North Sea Challenge

A few years ago Norse Cutting & Abandonment a.s., a service company in Stavanger, Norway, had a contract to square up eight 5 x 10-ft. (1.5 x 3-m) steel plates that had warped after being welded into place on Odin, a freighter.

Odin was being converted into a mobile drilling rig, so the plates had to be milled within 1 mm and laser aligned to the other plates to later accept the oil tanks. Norse contacted Climax for help. The Climax engineers analyzed the situation, recommended the right tool and fixturing, and provided onsite supervision and training for the job.

Ship conversions like this typically include extensive modifications and involve large amounts of additional steel welded to the structure. It is common to see warping under these circumstances. Since such structures are immovable, and grinding does not provide the needed precision, portable machine tools were an appropriate fit.

Climax met the challenge, helping Norse to finish the job in 18 days, three days earlier than scheduled. Climax continues to provide Norse Abandonment with comprehensive services that include engineering consulting services specialized training in machining techniques, as well as its widely-utilized, comprehensive line of portable machine tools. Climax is currently helping Norse remove oil wells from the North Sea.

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