We Do More: Industrial Mixing Solutions at NOV – Part 2 Transcript


00:10 Michael Gaines: Hello, and welcome to NOV Today. I'm your host, Michael Gaines. When you think of industrial mixing equipment, you might think of a large factory or maybe a food processing plant. But have you ever stopped to think about the technology that actually allows those kinds of places and more to operate? On this episode, we're going to get all mixed up as we learn about NOV industrial solutions in the mixing arena. To fully understand how NOV has become a leader in the industrial mixing space, we have to take a step back and take in a bit of history. First off, we meet with Irfan Rehman, the Europe, Middle East and Africa sales manager. He shares that mixing technology is something that isn't necessarily new, but the focus of the mixing industry has always been the same.

01:01 Irfan Rehman: Mixing has been around for a very, very long time. I remember seeing some very old photos of some wooden mixers. The company initially was formed in 1952, it was actually formed by a couple of chemical engineers, and they both put their name together to form Chemineer. From day one, the idea was to solve and tackle mixing problems. Mixing problems arise in all industries and all walks of life. So wherever you're trying to mix one or two components, whether they are liquid and liquid, or a liquid and a solid, or maybe a gas and a liquid, you need some kind of mechanical intervention to promote the mixing and to give the customer a end... Desired result. Essentially, from day one, the business was trying to look at innovative solutions.

02:09 Irfan Rehman: We looked at initially, the agitator side of the business, where you have a motor, which is maybe driven through a gear box, you have a shaft and then you have different impellers. And these impellers impart different flow patterns within the vessel. And depending on what your end result was, you would select different impellers. One of the great things about the business was we were very innovative in the early years and came up with a lot of different styles of impellers, did a lot of research. And we were leading the world in publications, in best practice, producing design guides that are even used by some engineers today to design mixing equipment.

03:00 Irfan Rehman: As the business grew, the business acquired a static mixer company, which was by the name of Kenics. Kenics was a patented design, it's a helical twisted element. The difference between the static and the dynamic agitators is with the static mixers, the mixing is done through a pipeline and the elements are fixed and essentially the elements create turbulence, they create a very good mixing, and the turbulence downstream of the mixer is what does the mixing. So the advantage of the static mixer was that a lot of processes which were being done in batch, I.e. They were done in a vessel but with an agitator could go continuous, I.e. Through a pipeline and through a static mixer. And so a lot of customers saw a lot of big savings, especially with their initial capital cost and then later their running costs, because you don't need to maintain a static mixer. So again, as the business grew, we looked at acquiring a high shear mixer company called Greerco, and again, this opened up a lot of opportunities as well.

04:19 Michael Gaines: Over the years, the technologies that came into the NOV industrial markets portfolio included well known legacy brand names, synonymous with the highest levels of quality and industrial performance.

04:33 Irfan Rehman: The main brand names for the mixing technologies are Chemineer, which are top entry dynamic agitators/mixers, you have your Kenics, in-line static mixers, you have your high shear Greerco mixers, and then finally, we have Prochem, which is a side entry business that was purchased also.

04:55 Irfan Rehman: The initial footprint of the business was in the USA, based in Dayton, Ohio and served the US market where you had big multinational companies such as Shell, and Exxon, and BASF, who had installations outside Europe, outside the USA. The USA supplied a lot of machines to these locations dotted around the Far East, or Europe, or the Middle East. Later an office was established in the UK, in Derby. From here the European market, Europe, Middle East and African market was served. A Chinese office was opened and then we latterly set up sales offices in Singapore, South Korea, India, and in Dubai.

[overlapping conversation]

06:04 Irfan Rehman: It very much depends on, again, what the customer's objectives are and what the goals are. A lot of liquid blending, so that is where you may be mixing two fluids and typically you may have some differences between the two fluids. So one slightly more...

[overlapping conversation]

06:27 Irfan Rehman: And you could do that within the vessel above the... By doing that within the vessel, you are then incurring quite a large initial capital cost for the tank, for the agitator, and then the maintenance of the agitator. And in those instances you could potentially look at going in line and having the desired results through a static mixer. So static mixer will not do everything an agitator can do. For example, if you're trying to suspend solids within a liquid. If you take mining, for example, you may have some leach that you need to suspend, you could not do that in a static mixer. So, there are a number of applications where you may use a static mixer and it would be a much better solution for the customer than an agitator. So again, when we're having those discussions with the customer, we're trying to give them the best solution and because we have both offerings, we're able to give the customer the right solution.

07:34 Michael Gaines: If you think that mixing technology is a one-and-done kind of space, you'd be sorely mistaken. NOV understood this and as Irfan noted, there is a great deal more that NOV is doing to ensure that our mixing technology stays in the forefront of the industry.

07:51 Irfan Rehman: We have a very large R&D facility in Dayton, Ohio. We have had instances where customers have had these kind of initial concepts and we've done the lab work. We've done small-scale work, maybe a 1-foot scale, and then scale that up to maybe 3 or 6 foot, as well as doing the lab work. We've done CFD, so that's computational fluid dynamics, to check the results with the experimental work, have presented that to the customer and then work with them to scale up from lab scale to their actual full scale. So we definitely have these capabilities of the lab work, the CFD. We can also do finite element analysis to help the customers as well. So, that's something that we very much pride ourselves on.

08:55 Michael Gaines: To continue to serve our customers regularly and provide a high degree of innovation and service, takes a team that is fully committed and dedicated to their craft. For Irfan, he says that the passion for mixing technology is something that is in his blood.

09:11 Irfan Rehman: I think it is like a bug, when you get into mixing, you stay in because no day is the same. So today, I may be dealing with a pharmaceutical customer who's trying to produce a drug that's gonna help obviously, the people out there. I'm in offices, I'm designing the special mixer. And then a week later, maybe in a plane or maybe having a meeting in offices for a big new chemical expansion. The challenges for those two customers are completely different, that's very exciting but the bit that really gets me excited is when I go to see a customer and they're struggling to solve the mixing problem. You may have a batch which could be worth a million dollars, and so, any improvement in the yield is gonna help. So you go in, you try to understand what they're trying to do today, what's worked, what hasn't worked, and then you go back to re-design the mixing, and then any small improvement again is a big benefit to the customer. So, I think because the challenge is huge and no two customers are normally the same, you get a lot of satisfaction when you go in and just do... 'cause these agitators are normally the heart of the process, so if the agitator goes down, the whole plan goes down.

10:43 Irfan Rehman: So it's very, very critical to get the agitation correct. So, by going in, by making very small changes, and improving these customers, you get a customer who comes back to you whenever they need an agitator. And that's the type of relationships we want and we have is with people who come to us, because they know they can trust us and they know that we can solve the mixing problems. We'll do it professionally, we'll do it quickly, and then with the products we supply, they will be of very high quality, they'll be reliable, and then they'll have the backup of our service engineers, any application engineers and engineering team as and when required.

11:23 Michael Gaines: Taking technology further along, Mr. Dib Dib, NOV's Vice President of Industrial Markets, shared that the mixing technologies provided by NOV's industrial markets team are able to draw on the full arsenal of NOV technologies and solutions that have been developed for both the industrial markets and oil and gas sectors.

11:45 Dib Dib: Just to mention that this technology is part of different product lines we have in the industrial or the non-oil and gas business unit, so we have mixers that also are used for similar applications like waste water, petrochemical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical. So what we are working is to combine these technologies and offer packages for our customers. And at the same time, we are leveraging other technologies we have in NOV that are used for drilling or other oil and gas applications into the non-oil and gas, or industrial. So we are using all the knowledge and history we have in oil and gas and see how we can apply it in the non-oil and gas sectors, even we are combining other products into our offering.

12:43 Michael Gaines: For more information on NOV mixers or to learn how Irfan and others can help you solve your mixing challenges, head over to nov.com/podcast, and check out the podcast notes for this episode. For NOV Today, I'm Michael Gaines. Thanks for listening and we'll talk to you later.