Digital technology is at the heart of Vallourec’s transformation, which is envisioned as continuous innovation. More importantly, it is also a significant differentiating factor, a means of doing things differently that is served by an approach in which additional services are deliberately offered.
The group has now started the metamorphosis that will put it in a position to capitalize on all of the potential that digital technology has to offer and to push technological boundaries. The dynamic has been set in motion for all of these matters. We are in the process of deploying our strategy that focuses on three main ideas: defining a new service offering called Vallourec.smart; improving our industrial performance with the Vallourec Industry 4.0 plan; and, lastly, helping all of our employees adapt to this cultural revolution. Vallourec’s digital transformation is thus stimulating the entire group in the service of its customers.
Vallourec.smart is our new service offering integrated into our customers’ entire value chain. This disruptive offer enables us to set ourselves apart from the competition and make our value proposition unique in the market. From design to supply to asset management, we are offering either to improve the performance of our existing physical services to our customers or to let them take advantage of novel, high-value-added, digital solutions.
From design to supply to asset management, we are offering either to improve the performance of our existing physical services to our customers or to let them take advantage of novel, high-value-added, digital solutions.
The advantage is twofold: on one hand, we are adding an additional digital layer to our traditional product offering; on the other, we are offering specifically packaged digital services. In this way, digital technology is enabling us to transform our offer and take a fresh look at our customers’ issues. Vallourec.smart can be implemented on any customer project using our installations and service bases worldwide.
By using these technologies, we are clearing the way for them in new areas. We are offering them an unprecedented experience that in reality translates into spectacular tangible advances: reducing construction periods for oil platforms, improving installation productivity and availability via data science, or even prolonging the use of Vallourec products thanks to predictive maintenance. Day to day, Vallourec.smart makes customers’ work easier. When they log into the Vallourec online website, customers can track their orders and shipments or access quality documents or even their customer account area where all the contract data have been compiled. Available on demand (via the pay-as-you-run offer), Vallourec.smart has met with great success across all of our markets.
We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and rationalized the value chain. We selected the best solutions used by our teams worldwide; we put them together in Vallourec.smart and enhanced them with our latest developments."Yvan Rivaux head of the Vallourec.smart project
The analytical power of digital solutions opens us up to new horizons. As their use spreads, it will enable us to improve the performance of our production facilities by systematically using production histories and data. To make the most of these data, we have implemented the Vallourec Industry 4.0 plan. With the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things)—big data, data lakes, etc.—digital technology is walking straight in through the front doors of our factories. Among the main results expected are predictive maintenance, rapid identification of the causes of incidents, and a reduction in poor quality and thus in production costs.
This plan will also improve employee working conditions in our factories as well as in our administrative and sales departments.
Jeceaba: a digitized factory
With regard to Industry 4.0, the Brazilian factory Jeceaba is Vallourec’s standard-bearer. Its high-end tube mill integrates an IIoT infrastructure that allows production equipment to connect to each other thanks to sensors placed throughout the shop floors. The system records all of the production data associated with each tube. Cross analysis of the steel manufacturing data with the data captured on the rolling and heat-treatment line makes it possible to predict and adjust the tube’s dimensions.
Barcodes to track tubes
To simplify our customers’ lives, Vallourec uses barcode technology so that individual tubes—whether in a factory, on a platform, or on a rig—can be quickly identified. Clearly visible and durable, the barcode is printed in white on the black coating of the finished tube in the internationally recognized Code 128 format. Each tube has its own eight-digit serial number that gives access to specific information via applications that Vallourec has developed. Tallix identifies the tube in the storage yard. Smart Tally is used on the rig and specifically indicates the length of the tube and the column descending; soon it will include a map of each tube’s position in the well.
Quality control via ultrasound
The Düsseldorf-Rath rolling mill in Germany was the first Vallourec site to use ultrasounds for tube quality control. This 2D phased-array technology (ShapeUT™ technology) is the most advanced in the world. Its 360° detection of natural defects is a real added value, optimizing configuration and manufacturing periods. Seamless steel tubes must meet very strict qualitative requirements that only a flawless inspection can guarantee. It took three years of collaboration between Vallourec and General Electric to do the spadework for this technology and implement it.
Fight against counterfeitingAs high-value-added products, Vallourec tubes are potential targets for counterfeiting. In order to ensure the integrity of its products, Vallourec developed Valguard. This mobile application enables the certificates related to the tubes to be secured using a QR code. Their authenticity is also verified using a “Vallourec DNA” tracer, a solution developed with a partner and qualified by the Aulnoye-Aymeries research laboratory (France) and the group’s Quality teams.