Power Dynamics LLC Now Manufactures Maxi Size HDD Rigs

Power Dynamics LLC, based in Stennis Space Center, Miss.There’s a new player in the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) industry, a company that believes it can carve out a strong niche for itself within the competitive maxi rig manufacturing market.

Power Dynamics LLC, based in Stennis Space Center, Miss., has joined the ranks of HDD rig manufacturers and plans to concentrate its efforts on custom-building maxi size rigs that range from 100,000 to 1 million lbs of pullback. With its history grounded in the oil and gas industry and hydraulically-powered equipment, company officials believe they can offer HDD contractors an alternative to the rigs that are already in the fleets of the larger manufacturers.

Power Dynamics joins new HDD rig makers The Toro Co. and McCloskey International, both of which have made acquisitions over the last two years to sell HDD rigs — a sign that the HDD market is finding its footing once again.

“We believe the market for land-based pipe lay equipment will continue to grow as the gas and oil industry grows and the need for infrastructure improvements increases throughout the country. This is the kind of work that Power Dynamics does best,” says Power Dynamics owner and president Robert Hancock. “We started repairing HDD units [in 2012] and found that our customers were asking us to consider building new units. They wanted custom-built HDD units that were simple, reliable and easy to maintain. Building ‘custom equipment’ has been our expertise for over 30 years.”

Power Dynamics has been in business for 30 years, primarily focused on the design and manufacturing of custom hydraulic machinery. The company specializes in offshore pipeline equipment such as tensioners, pipe handling equipment, marine winches, and special–application machinery. However, the BP oil spill in 2010 changed the course of Power Dynamics business plan, forcing it look at other possible avenues for revenue. HDD was a perfect fit and complement to its oil and gas manufacturing base.

“Every five years a small business has to re-invent itself,” Hancock says. “HDD was the re-invention that we started two years ago.

“The Gulf of Mexico was completely shut down and every customer that we had that worked in the Gulf of Mexico was affected,” Hancock says. “For two years, we had absolutely no business down there…We definitely needed to diversify and [HDD] was an easy transition to make because the equipment is a lot like the equipment we build now.”

With all of its experience in the oil and gas market, Power Dynamics turned to the HDD market, saying it is a seamless extension of what they already do. “It was a natural transition to go from the offshore pipe installation to onshore HDD installation,” Hancock says. “We were easily able to diversify to HDD projects because of our strong engineering and hydraulic power experience.”

In 2012, the company began repairing HDD rigs, mainly structural repairs to the units owned by some of the better known large project HDD contractors. “We’ve rebuilt pumps, motors, pinion gears, cylinders, gear boxes and valves,” says Power Dynamics director of government projects Percy Freeman, P.E. “That’s why we knew that we could build one from scratch — because we have built every component on several rigs.”

Among the repairs that the company does are: fabrication and installation of rig jack-up systems for 500,000- and 1 million-lb rigs; design of a super-charged hydraulic system capable of absorbing harmonic shocks; design of an auxiliary pullback attachment: design, fabrication and installation of improved hose carriers; troubleshooting of control systems; design, fabrication, and installation of an improved manifold system for hose carrier; and design and manufacture of various HDD rig components.

Hancock also brought on board Richard Wilke, a well-respected consultant in the HDD industry who has worked for Cherrington Corp. and the former Horizontal Rig & Equipment (HRE). Wilke’s HDD expertise, along with offshore veteran John Holland’s knowledge of repairs give Power Dynamics a great foundation to manufacture new rigs, he says. “[Richard Wilke] is extremely well known and I would venture to guess that every HDD operator in the country has used or has known him over the last 20 years,” Hancock says. “Both [men] have years of HDD design, manufacturing and operation in their background.”

Also critical to the company’s success in HDD is its executive vice president Carl Liberty, who is in charge of operations and is an integral part in building the units.

Power Dynamics’ forte is custom building and repairing, something not all rig manufacturers offer, company officials say. “We will compete on our service and to the manufacturing of customized machines,” Hancock says

Giving Them What They Want
Power Dynamics says it produces equipment that its customers want, and in the case of HDD rigs, one specific area that they want improved upon is control systems. Customers have voiced that they are looking for a more simplified approach.

“Our control systems are designed for ease of operation and have received positive feedback from our clients,” Hancock says. “Along with improved filtration systems, rugged, durable construction and simplified operator controls, our rigs are designed to minimize maintenance needs. As a further service to our customers, we have developed a remote access troubleshooting program, which allows us to identify problems and minimize downtime.”

Power Dynamics’ first manufactured rig  — 500,000 lbs of pullback — just came off the assembly line for Harding Directional Drilling, which the contractor worked closely with the manufacturer to design and build. The plan is to custom-build five or six rigs a year. Noting that price is always a selling factor, Hancock says strictly custom-built rigs are not cheap to build but he is not worried. He says the market is looking for custom-built machinery and customers are willing to pay for what they want. “Custom equipment can add up but we can still be competitive and give the customers what they want,” Hancock says.

Hancock sees the HDD market continuing to grow in the coming years both in the pipeline and underground infrastructure sectors. “There are really two areas you can go with these machines, the infrastructure and all the natural gas and shale plays,” he says. “We are seeing improvements happening all over the country in addressing our aging infrastructure systems. I expect the HDD business to continue to be very good, especially on the [maxi] rig side, driven primarily by the need for more and more pipelines to move oil and gas from the onshore fields to markets.”

Sharon M. Bueno is managing editor of Trenchless Technology.
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