Innovating the Industry:

Innovating the Industry:
The challenges of designing for the downhole environment

By Todd Campau
July 7, 2015
broken-smartphoneI dropped my cellphone the other day. It hit the floor, but I have a case, so luckily nothing broke. That got me thinking. How might you protect a piece of electronics when dropped? Even better, how do you build something to endure more intense abuse? Tolteq knows. Check this out.

With a cellphone you use a protective case, but you wouldn’t with a watch, computer, or other piece of electronics. Electronics-makers design their products to withstand low-level accidents. They’ve got it easy.

Have you ever considered the challenges of designing for the downhole environment? It’s no walk in the park. Every time you go downhole, your equipment basically goes through Hell and back. Why? The effects of shock, vibration and temperature. Designing with these rough effects in mind takes unique materials, creativity, and continuous improvement. A new approach to design can often produce great results.

Tolteq LLC (Tolteq) engineers are creative, but have limited options; size is a major constraint. Detailed, intricate equipment must be contained within the tight dimensions of the barrel. “It’s not just a tube with threads on it. It can’t be expanded” states Graham, mechanical engineer.

We’ve established that size matters. Designing for shock, vibration and temperature is a tougher requirement. Mechanical engineer Jacob sums it up, “Vibration kills everything.” Therefore, Tolteq equipment must be ruggedized to withstand those punishing effects.

Compact, complex electronics components must contend with LCM (loss control material), mud flow, chemicals, silting and salt hazards. That’s a lot different from spilled coffee, food, and dust you’ll see at the office.

When it comes to firmware, the ratings, size and strength requirements for materials used in downhole equipment are much more stringent than for surface electronics. Finding components rated for the shock, vibration and temperature level we require is tough.

Tolteq electronic boards have complex circuitry and cells – all which must stay in place and function correctly while enduring high temps and vibration. The material composition of the boards themselves is critical – they should expand as little as possible during downhole operations. The board power distribution system must function properly and filter out noise. In order to do this, Tolteq uses thermal-rated boards and the strongest staking material possible to maintain board integrity and operation.

From Anthony, our new Director of Engineering, to each engineer at Tolteq, our personnel bring a keen eye and unique understanding of what it takes to be successful in the rough, tough conditions in which our electronics are used.

Some manufacturers might suggest you go easier on their tools. Be more careful with them. But that really doesn’t work in the downhole environment, does it? Your fleet should be able to withstand the harshest of drilling conditions. Tolteq won’t ask you to go easy with our tools. We’ve made them durable to function more reliably in any condition. That’s the right answer.

Try Tolteq, we know drilling.

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