Volume 5 | Issue 8 | Year 2002

Cooper Energy Services is a leading provider of reciprocating compression equipment and compressor services for the oil and gas production, gas transmission, gas process and power industries. Cooper Turbocompressor offers one of the most efficient, reliable centrifugal compressors in the market today. Capitalizing on CES’ strength in aftermarket services and CTC’s experience in product development, the two divisions have teamed up on a number of different ongoing projects to offer their customers improved customer service and products.

Cooper Energy Services has a wide network of service centers that provide prompt local support for customer needs. The fully equipped service centers have information about the equipment installed in their region and are staffed with experts.

Expanding on the capabilities of the CES service centers, Cooper Turbocompressor has transferred equipment and manpower to the CES service center in Houston to offer regional customers service support of CTC compressors. Cooper Turbocompressor plans to make similar investments in CES service centers in California and Louisiana. Cooper Energy Services recently acquired Turbine Specialties (TSI), a manufacturer of turbochargers, from the Elliott Company. One of the benefits of CTC’s worldwide leadership role in centrifugal compressors is the knowledge in aerodynamic technology. CES has taken CTC’s aerodynamic technology know-how and applied it to its TSI line of turbochargers. With the assistance of CTC, CES can now offer state-of-the-art performance. The two examples cited of inter-division cooperation would not have been possible without the expertise each division brings to the table.

The Cooper Turbocompressor Experience
Cooper Turbocompressor got its start in the 1950s as one of the early pioneers in integrally geared centrifugal compressors. It didn’t take long for CTC to grow from an R&D center to a major world supplier of this type of centrifugal compressors. Since the beginning, CTC has been headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y.

Cooper Turbocompressor got its first substantial spurt of growth in the early 1960s by supporting the air separation industry; producers of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other inert gases. The industrial gases industry uses compressors to compress air and separate all the constituent gas components. Cooper Turbocompressor became the supplier of choice for the industry because its compressors offered high reliability, high efficiencies, and operations flexibility.

Cooper Turbocompressor’s products for the industrial gases sector led to phenomenal growth and turned the division into a global supplier. Today, Cooper Turbo- compressor continues to be a strong supplier in the industrial gases market.

Starting in the 1970s, CTC used its strength in the industrial gases industry to expand into the plant air market. Industry companies utilize high-pressure air generated by compressors for a variety of applications. For example, plant air is used to drive hand tools. The automotive industry uses plant air as the driver of hydraulic tools and dies, lifting equipment, and pneumatic tools. Plant air is used as a utility throughout industry for today’s manufacturing processes. “We’ve grown the plant air business through the strengthening of our worldwide distribution network and our emphasis on new product development, new technologies and creative design,” says Frank H. Athearn, CTC’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Cooper Turbocompressor has played an important role in having integrally geared compressor technology accepted by industry. Integrally geared compressor technology has gained acceptance because CTC has proven that the technology can deliver improved mechanical and aerodynamic performance, as well as offering high reliability. The division has been a driver of the transition from “between bearings compressor technology” to integrally geared technology.

Cooper Turbocompressor offers a wide range of compressors with power ranges from 150hp to 25,000hp. In addition to the plant air and industrial gases markets, CTC serves the process gas markets. Products for the industrial gases and the process markets are grouped into CTC’s engineered compressor division. “Our engineered compressor products are designed for specific applications,” explains Athearn. “We produce these products to American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications, which is especially important for refining and petrochemical applications. Not just any company can meet these demanding specifications. Our products offer the highest level of quality and reliability.”

Cooper Turbocompressor has launched five new products during the last three years: the TAC2000, the world’s only packaged air-cooled centrifugal plant air compressor; the TA6000 and the TA11000, two large compressor frames; Turbo Dry Pack (TDP), an interstage heat of compressor dryer system; and a trailer mounted, air cooler centrifugal compressor rental fleet.”The most important thing to remember about our new products is that we’re proactive in addressing the market’s needs,” explains Athearn. “We are introducing these products in a mature market to improve our customers’ operating efficiency. As a creative force in the industry, we’re making a difference.”

Changes are afoot in the plant air market, forcing CTC to place an even greater focus on being a global supplier. Most of the growth in the construction of plant air facilities is taking place overseas. Grassroots plants aren’t being constructed in the United States at the level they once were. As a result, the company “is adapting the product to meet the demands of the international customer,” says Athearn. In Europe, as an example, the requirements for compressors are different than in the United States. “For some time now, we’ve been making compressor systems that meet European standards,” notes Athearn. “Our customer service is being driven by the needs of the regional customer.”

As CTC’s focus has become more global in nature, the division has increased its investments in Europe, Asia and South America. Cooper Turbocompressor has a plant in Scotland and plans to add additional capabilities in Italy. CTC is currently creating the plan for the next steps in China. Cooper Turbocompressor is striving to have the best sales distribution network in the world. “While we have an excellent distribution team in the United States, we’re still building our international network,” says Athearn. “Right now we have some strong partners around the world.”Cooper Turbocompressor has world-class manufacturing and testing facilities in Buffalo, N.Y. The division has the most extensive testing facilities for this type of compressor. “Our core compressor technology, as well as engineering and testing, are all handled in the Buffalo facility,” says Athearn. “We create our core technology, which is integrally-geared technology, in Buffalo and we ship it internationally where we make it into a compressor system.” CTC employs 420 people at its 250,000-square-foot facility.

Cooper Energy Services aftermarket Strength
Cooper Energy Services has always specialized in reciprocating compressors. Over the last several years, the reciprocal gas compressor market began to decline. In response, CES reduced and consolidated its product line. The division discontinued certain products such as gas-fueled compressor engines and consolidated its reciprocating gas compressor business. More importantly, as the market for reciprocating compressors declined opportunities materialized in the aftermarket side of the business. “We started investing in and growing our aftermarket capabilities,” says Athearn. “We acquired companies that would enable us to offer more services to our customers. We wanted to service our customers’ total needs for reciprocating gas compressor and engine.

Recent CES purchases have included the acquisition of a small-frame reciprocating compressor manufacturer. This compressor is called CFA and adds to CES’ capabilities at the lower end of its compressor product line. Cooper Energy Services also bought Nickles, a manufacturer of reciprocating compressor and engine parts, including brands such as Dresser-Rand, Clark, Worthington and Ingersoll-Rand. “We can now service a variety of machines, not just our machines,” says Athearn. CES also bought TSI. With the TSI acquisition, CES has enhanced its turbocharger supply and repair business.

Inter-Division Cooperation
“The questions we’re always asking ourselves are: How can we take the applications and customer service expertise the Cooper Cameron divisions have accumulated over the years and use it to improve the overall level of service each division is providing customers?” says Athearn. “Is there something we can add to our portfolio of products via development or acquisitions to better serve our customers? In a nutshell, those two questions embody Cooper Cameron’s outlook today and by extension the outlooks of CES and CTC.”

According to Athearn, “we want to take the product development mentality and the importance of customer input inherent in the way CTC operates and apply it to CES,” says Athearn. We also want to use CES’ aftermarket experience and capabilities and apply them to the CTC compressor business. Athearn ends the conversation with a flourish: “The lesson learned through our experience with CES and CTC is simple: Do not operate your divisions as if they were islands — companies have much more going for them than they realize.”

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