Let’s look at training technologies with Axon. An interview with Tom Bremer

Archomai are working with a number of companies on business analytics; performance improvement; simulation and simulator technologies – this is our drive to improve operating performance. One of the leading companies delivering training solutions in the Oil industry is ARCD (Axon Rig Concept and Design). Tom Bremer is CEO of Axon Rig Concept and Design (ARCD). Tom is from Norway and has extensive International experience in adapting training technologies to specific sector or local needs. Rob Bell met up with Tom to understand the Axon approach in more detail …

ARCD is part of Axon Energy Products, a group with 5 divisions (like ARCD), located in seven different countries and with more than 800 employees. Tom has experience from working all over the world and has developed a clear understanding of how advanced training technologies can impact the skills agenda, especially in the Oil & gas, wind and logistic sector where there is a shortage of experienced people and where the growth is expected to happen for the next decade. The highly experienced Axon team has its roots from Hitec, a leading oil and gas service company acquired by National Oilwell Varco back in the year 2000 and work closely with other partners such as L-3 Communications, SINTEF, eDrilling and Well Controll School in Houston.

Q1. So, what does Axon do? In short, Axon provides leading oil and gas products and services to the industry. ARCD is the core facilitator within the group, handling projects from the FEED and conceptual stage, further into rig projects including control products and simulations, taking the full circle with providing Life Cycle Management (LCM) and advanced skill competence and training. Axon’s ability to follow a project all the way for our customers is rather unique, especially with the great team of skilled employees, dedicated to provide top service and execute projects successfully.

Q2. Axon use simulation and simulator technologies. Why? The industries we focus face huge challenges – there is a shortage of skilled employees; time and ability for on-the-job training is limited and their working environment is getting more and more advanced and complex every day. There are no short-cuts, there are now easy solutions – you have to take one step at a time, increase loyalty from your employees and even more important avoid accidents and incidents on the job. By the way, this will play a major role in retaining them – not easy in this competitive environment.

Smooth and well executed operations are the solution and Axon provides the tools and facilitation to achieve that for our customers. In the oil industry, top-executives have now experienced that a major oil-company can go under, due to a serious accident caused by a poorly executed operation – skills again. The indirect liability costs, outside the direct costs taken by the company are huge.

The oil and gas industry experienced a great loss in the down-time in the 80’s, losing huge pools of talents to other industries, due to the low gas prices and cutting down of staff in the industry. Making up for that now in our decade will be a great challenge, but we have more advanced training tools and systems enabling us to get people trained in a shorter period of time, more importantly, train them on critical situations and challenges in a way the world never have experienced before. Axon is ready for this challenge and we have the best tools and partners to help our customers.

Over the years Axon, with its partners, has developed a suite of highly advanced Simulators for drilling and well operations, as well as for lifting operations. These are the two major cost factors in the oil and gas industry. For Wind, complex lifting operations are the glue of any new development project, or maintenance operations. Let’s not forget that we are talking of placing turbines in deep water and with strong winds – not the place to learn on the job!

Then , we have worked all over the world in Ports. In the logistic industry, for a port for example – the port-cranes are the nerve and bottle neck of any operation. A ship is dependent of a smooth operation, with a high level of precision avoiding stops in its complex chain of logistics. Ports are paid on how fast they can unload a ship. So, performance counts. Again, not a great place to learn on the job. Simulators can be the right environment to learn, improve and experience things that you hope will not happen – but they might. This is bottom line stuff and can increase profitability.

Q3. Where do you operate? We are based in the US, Canada, UK, Norway, UAE and China. Our first two simulation training centers are located in Stavanger and Houston, expecting to roll-out additional centers world-wide between 2012 and 2015. Our Houston center opened just this month and is an Axon and Well Control School Partnership, enabling the customers to get the latest, unique technology facilitated by a very experienced oil and gas training provider. We are seeking similar local experienced training partners all over the world, enabling us to deliver first class training services to our customers.

Our partnership with Archomai within the wind industry and Renewables is a similar example of how we work with the leading local partners within skill-sets and competence in order to support the industries. We are looking at Europe; India and the Middle East. One of our major clients is Statoil – with whom we have an excellent relationship. Working closely with leading companies in each specific industry, is our approach in order to successfully deliver the best possible products and services.

Q4. In addition to the oil and gas industry, what other industry do you think needs this approach to training and performance improvement and why? We think that what matters in oil applies across the Energy Sector from Gas to Renewables. For example, off the Humber Estuary in the UK three major wind farms are opening up with an estimated 10,000 turbines. Let’s look at the end-to-end supply chain that will serve these fields. In simple terms: (1). Manufacturing of components (2). Moving to the quayside and assembly into kits (3). Movement to the supply and support vessels (4). Installation at sea (5). Operation and maintenance. The key activity throughout this process is heavy lifting – not just the movement of the blades. And this is where what we know about heavy lifting in oil and gas applies. We have the technologies and they are all transferable. I have visited the Humber several times and sense that this could be another Aberdeen – but you have to have more than a good location; the Humber has to offer a world class labour force. That starts with training.

Now, Rob, you have raised this elsewhere. The Wind Energy sector has many similarities with Oil and Gas BUT there are important differences – cost being the main one. The Wind Energy supply chain has to be much more cost sensitive – because it is a market created by subsidy and will continue as such for a while. That means that training has to be focussed on right first time and the elimination of costly procedures or effort that does not ad value. Better simulate the issues than find out on the job. If anything – this is more important.

In terms of geography, we see huge growth in Asia, Middle East, South America and Africa, as well as the existing, established leading oil and gas nations. We are working closely with the Archomai team in many of these markets and, especially here in Europe focusing on the Renewables. I have mentioned the Humber – we are looking at how we can support the development of this brand new industry to the Region together with Archomai. As earlier mentioned, Axon’s key to execution is experienced and capable local partners; together we make the difference for our customers.

Q5. Where do you see your company in 5 years-time? Where do you want to get to? Axon Energy Products is the Alternative. We think and breathe differently than our competitors. Our mindset is on developing a specialist team that understands the Energy sector. Out of this understanding will come products and services that meet AND anticipate our client needs. Let’s not forget working with with the best local Partners.

We certainly expect to be a bigger company and have a much larger customer base, but our approach will stay the same – we want to enable our customers to focus on their core business and perform better – in terms of safety; in terms of right first time and, in terms of value for money. Axon will still always be the alternative; we compete with our competitors as much as we shall compete with ourselves. It all starts with a conversation – when it comes to performance in the Energy sector what can be done to improve performance. Then we can start to use our experience to make things happen. We have done this with Statoil for some time and, like any good partnership, we learn from each other. That builds trust and makes a huge difference.



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