Taurex Drill Bits uses SAS® Viya® on Microsoft Azure to reimagine the manufacturing process
According to the American Petroleum Institute, onshore drilling contributes a staggering $439.1 billion to the United States’ economy. It's a pivotal economic force and foundational component of the global energy supply. Transformation is underway in the industry, driven by technological strides, and companies like Taurex Drill Bits stand at the forefront. From precision engineering to data-driven insights, Taurex is embracing innovation, championing efficiency and sustainability, and helping shape the future of the drilling industry.
Headquartered in Oklahoma, with a manufacturing plant in Texas, Taurex specializes in supplying oil and gas drill bits to the energy sector. Unlike traditional consumer drill bits, Taurex’s products range from 3 5/8-inch to colossal 26-inch diameter bits and are designed to dig through rough terrain. Its commitment to specialized, robust drill bits tailored for demanding terrains is essential for helping its customers drill as efficiently as possible. Consequently, Taurex is constantly finding innovative ways to improve its engineering, communication and performance to become its customers' most trusted drill bit provider.
One of our favorite features of SAS Viya is the low-code, no-code environment. We have data scientists who aren’t programmers or coders by background, and they’re able to create advanced dashboards and analytics, which otherwise would take months, if not years, to develop. Dustin Lyles Vice President of Technology Taurex Drill Bits
Scaling evaluation from 2% to 100%
Cameron Devers, RAID (Research Artificial Intelligence and Data) Scientist for Taurex, explains, “In the United States, drill bits are predominantly a leased product. We drop it off on-site, they use it and it’s returned for repair. There are multiple components to a drill bit, and some of those parts can get changed out while the main body is repaired. We’re looking at that damage data between repair jobs. It helps us gauge exactly how to repair, if it’s safe to repair or if we need to just scrap it for material.”
Historically, this evaluation relied heavily on subjective human assessments. Taurex, recognizing the limitations, transitioned to automating the evaluation process using advanced photography, metrology and machine learning models. This allowed Taurex to meticulously examine 100% of the drill bits it produced, starkly contrasting the previous 1-2% manually analyzed.
“We’ve got data scientists, software engineers, data engineers and a metrology specialists on staff within the technology department,” says Dustin Lyles, Vice President of Technology at Taurex. “Our role at Taurex is predominantly to take data that we bring in from our automation, manage it and bring solutions to our internal and external customers. After automating the drill bit evaluation process, we quickly began to experience a kind of data overload. We started asking ourselves, ‘We’ve got all this data … and now what do we do with it? How do we extract the most insight and knowledge?’”
The overwhelming amount of data generated led Taurex to seek external help. “We already successfully scaled drill bit evaluation from only 1 or 2% up to 100%, but we still needed to be able to scale the data analysis instead of just gleaning insight out of 2% of the data,” Lyles explains, “and SAS seemed like a really good fit for that.”
Because of SAS, we have been able to bring more of the company on board with a data-future outlook. And excitement about our data has skyrocketed. Cameron Devers Research Artificial Intelligence and Data Scientist Taurex Drill Bits
Choosing the right analytics partner
When looking for an analytics partner, Taurex considered the impact on existing employees as a key factor. It wanted to expand its analytical and technological prowess without overtaxing its team. To meet this need, Taurex opted for SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure.
“One of the constraints of being a medium-sized company is we don’t have an extensive IT team in place,” Lyles says. “One of the things that was appealing about partnering with SAS is how it allowed us to take advantage of some technologies that otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to with our in-house resources and in-house personnel. That allowed us to move more efficiently and didn’t slow down our day-to-day business.”
Additionally, Taurex wanted its solution to democratize data and analytics across the team, regardless of each person’s coding background. “One of our favorite features of SAS Viya is the low-code, no-code environment,” Lyles says. “We have data scientists who aren’t programmers or coders by background, and they’re able to create advanced dashboards and analytics, which otherwise would take months, if not years, to develop.”
Once Taurex decided to implement SAS, it wanted to analyze data effectively as quickly as possible. To meet this goal, it enlisted SAS Professional Services to assist with implementation and onboarding. Quickly after joining forces, Taurex began to see tangible results and sophisticated dashboards to answer key questions.
“One of the best things about partnering with SAS is the consulting offered,” Lyles says. “The customer service and data science consulting services have been extremely valuable to us. To do what we have done with SAS Viya in-house would have taken either a lot larger team – probably four-to-five times the number of people – or much longer to get to the point that we are today.”
Machine learning helps customers find what they need
After implementing SAS, innovation surged. Devers explains: “A few months ago, we finished a joint consulting project with SAS, which we’re calling ‘PredictaBULL.’ At Taurex, we have designed over 600 unique drill bits during the company’s history. Obviously, not all these designs are being used anymore, as we’re continuously improving. But there are still like 30, 40 or 50 levers that these engineers can throw, and it’s unrealistic to expect these operators to understand what any of those levers correlate with since they’re mostly engineering terms. So, we did this three-part machine-learning project that helped us simplify those engineering parameters into terms that are more human.”
Using this machine-learning information, the Taurex team developed four key distinctions to help drillers choose the right bit. “We now classify the bits by aggression, durability, stability, and directional, which is the ability for the bit to move or stay still in a three-dimensional space, Devers says. “These are terms that operators – and basically anybody – can understand. Aggression is speed. Durability is lifespan and so forth.”
By helping its customers understand which specially engineered bit best suits their needs, Taurex is improving the customer experience and reducing damage from bits being used for incorrect purposes.
Customers also benefit from reduced drill bit failures, which reduces drilling costs. “In a United States drilling operation, the single largest cost is the day rate of their rig,” Devers explains. “So, the drill bit is not expensive. It’s a few percent of the total operating cost. The day rate of the rig is 30 to 40% of the cost. But drill bit failure downhole can greatly increase the time you’re on-site drilling.”
Taurex Drill Bits – Facts & Figures
8 domestic oil and gas plays
as well as multiple international markets
Finding the right tools with data
“The second thing we did is invoked a series of clustering algorithms to try to get some ranking of drill bit performance in different regions,” Devers says. Taurex wanted to know how the region impacted drill bit efficacy, damage and failure for various bits to provide better guidance to customers on which bits to use for each region. To examine this, Taurex used SAS Viya’s bias mitigation features to explore regional impact.
“The United States is a very diverse drilling space,” Devers says. “We’ve got clients everywhere from the Northeast to the West Coast. Just because all of them might need to drill an 8 ½-inch hole doesn’t mean they can – or should – use the same product. So, we have these bias mitigation tools to help eliminate bias between regions.”
Looking ahead to future innovation
The innovation journey at Taurex continues with a focus on visual machine learning analysis to understand why bits over- or underperform. Real-time indexing and road mapping projects are on the horizon, with Taurex hoping to use digital twins to predict performance effectively.
Lyles jokingly remarked, “We currently have several projects scoped out that we want to act on, but it’s like the old analogy: We must eat the elephant one bite at a time. That’s what we’re doing.”
As Taurex works toward these future projects, its team is excited for the journey ahead and unified around the data. “Because of SAS, we have been able to bring more of the company on board with a data-future outlook,” Devers concludes. “And excitement about our data has skyrocketed.”