Ten years ago, Magnetic Analysis Corporation (MAC) was in the business of nondestructive testing for the metals industry, running eddy current and flux leakage testing and analysis on pipes and structures for a variety of sectors. The energy sector was not a major part the business – but when the need for oil and natural gas pipelines began to expand over the last decade, MAC saw an opportunity.
“Ten years ago, we started to get much more active in the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) market, and that was good timing for us because that was when that market was really starting to take off all over the world,” says Dudley Boden, VP of Operations at MAC. “It was really where the opportunities were at that point, and we had the right technology – in some cases all we had to do was make larger versions of the testers we were making, make more integrated systems with multiple types of testers in one line, in order to meet the requirements of that market. We just needed to adapt a little bit to go into that market. Now that’s become a big part of our business both here in the US and overseas.”
Today MAC stands as a major force in oil and gas, using an array of testing capabilities to ensure that the pipelines the industry relies on are strong and ready to perform.
Shifting Gears and a Unique Advantage for a New Market
Years of experience in nondestructive metals testing has given Magnetic Analysis Corporation the unique advantage of having a range of testing equipment meant for various applications that can now be applied to the pipeline industry. “Not many of our competitors, in the OCTG market or anywhere else, have all the different types of technology that we offer,” says Boden. “Either they focus more on ultrasonic testing or eddy current or flux leakage testing – but almost none of them have all of it. We’re one of the only manufacturers who have all of that, so we can put a complete package together without subcontracting out to someone else or going through separate vendors. That’s a huge advantage for us in this market.”
Still, every new sector brings its own unique set of challenges and oil and gas has been no different. Since entering this market, MAC has invested significantly in retooling its equipment and testing capabilities to take on these challenges.
“Probably our biggest investments in last few years are in scaling up our products,” says Boden. “Ten years ago, our largest ultrasonic rotary tester could test 5-inch (127mm) material as a maximum – now we’ve produced an ultrasonic rotary that can test up to 20-inch (500mm) material. That’s a much bigger product, which is required for OCTG. It’s the same with our flux leakage tester – our largest flux leakage tester was (15.75-inch) 400mm, and now we’re up to 500mm. A lot of our product development has been scaling up our mechanics, our drive systems, and our conveyors to handle these larger products.”
Beyond scaling up, MAC has also invested in the development of altogether new technologies to test more accurately for the industries it serves. “The infrared testing system we’re just starting to introduce is a unique technology for doing surface defects, totally noncontact, and offer some unique advantages,” Boden adds. “We’re doing that with a partner, and we continue to develop and come out with new versions of our electronics that support each of these kinds of testers.”
Driving Customer Service
One guarantee that Magnetic Analysis Corp makes to its customers is that, wherever its products are sold, it has the local capacity to provide comprehensive service and support. As Boden explains, this service is crucial for manufacturers with their own tight schedules. “Sometimes our products are in the production line itself, sometimes they’re in an offline test system – but in either case, they’re unable to ship product if it hasn’t been tested,” he says. “We shut down the factory if our equipment isn’t operating. So it’s very important to be able to respond quickly and get people with the proper skills on site in a hurry, to get equipment back up and running if there’s any kind of problem. We then also have somebody who can go there and spend time with the customer at initial delivery, learning about their operation and making sure we provide the right equipment in the first place.”
This responsiveness is part of MAC’s commitment to customer service. The company’s most important asset beyond its comprehensive testing capabilities, it has turned MAC’s relative size in the industry into agility and an asset. “In this day and age every customer wants things a little bit different, whether it’s the paperwork side of things or actual equipment requirements,” says Boden. “They are looking for levels of customization, or to fit a product into a space that may not be ideal. What we find is, while virtually all of our competitors make standard offerings, we customize down to the level of wanting something painted a different color. If it comes to reengineering your product to fit very specific parameters, we will. That’s a big advantage of us being small and responsive.”