Texas and New Mexico’s oil and gas energy industry rely on generators to power a large bulk of its operations. Generators are used for new site construction, pumping units, powering water wells, as well as for dozens of other activities. In fact, at many sites, generators run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the expert energy operations call on when they need power is Big D Companies of Midland, Texas.
For over 40 years, the team at Big D Companies has delivered a wide range of services, including generator rentals, open pit lining, polyethylene pipe installation, fencing and construction services. In total, Big D Construction delivers fast and reliable service to a 200 square mile territory, and operates a fleet of equipment that includes more than 100 earthmoving machines, over 330 generators and 500 miles of polyethylene pipe.
Huge maintenance needs
On any given day, Big D Companies has between 200 and 300 generators ranging in size from 20 kW to 1MW out on-rent to contractors across two states. Most of those units run around the clock, which creates short service intervals for the Big D Construction service team.
According to Trey Villanueva, operations manager for equipment rentals at Big D Companies, the company has a team of 17 people dedicated to servicing rented equipment. “This team is responsible for providing transfer pumps to feed water trucks, supplying generators to power the water wells that feed frack pits and servicing machines out on rent,” he explained. “It’s a big job because we need to perform oil changes on most of our generator fleet every 10 to 12 days, so we try to be as diligent as possible at hitting those intervals to keep our customers up and running.”
To efficiently service all of the generators in the field, Big D Equipment’s service team use Sage Oil Vac mobile lube equipment. The company owns three Sage Oil Vac 1C5G-5100 mobile lube trailers with four 60-gallon (227 liter) ASME tanks for fresh oil and fluid and one 120-gallon (454 liter) ASME tank for used oil, as well as five Sage Oil Vac lube skids that are truck mounted.
“We started with one small Sage Oil Vac lube skid and when we saw how much more efficient it was than the old way we serviced machines in the field, we added additional units until we had enough to service our whole fleet,” explained Villanueva. “We use our truck-mounted units to perform routine maintenance on generators near our offices in Midland and Pecos, Texas. Since our trailer lube systems can carry such a large volume of fresh fluid, we use those units in more remote locations and jobsites in New Mexico. Our guys can usually stay out in the field for up to three days without having to come back to the shop to refill or drain used oil — that’s a huge savings in time and travel expenses.”
Old way versus new way
Until Big D Companies invested in its first Sage Oil Vac mobile lube system around four years ago, the service team was using impeller pumps and one gallon (3.79 liter) oil containers in the field. “On average, two service techs would spend between 45 minutes to an hour changing the oil on each generator,” explained Villanueva. “They would have to pump out the used oil into buckets, replenish the oil and then transfer the used oil into sealed containers so they could be hauled back to the shop for disposal. Not only was it time-consuming and labor intensive, it was also a messy process.”
Making the switch to Sage Oil Vac mobile lube systems cut their service time down to 15 to 20 minutes per generator. This increase in efficiency made it possible for them to double the number of oil changes they can do each day and eliminated the need to send a second person out on routine maintenance trips. This combination has had a dramatic impact on Big D Companies maintenance expenses.
The cost-savings didn’t stop there; Villanueva explained they used to buy oil in cases because they were easier for service technicians to handle. However, now they can reap the benefits of purchasing the same Chevron oil in bulk at substantial savings. “Every day, our service technicians would have to load three to four boxes of oil onto the back of their trucks because they didn’t have a way of dispensing oil other than pouring it through a funnel,” he said. “We were paying between $16 to $18 a gallon with our old setup. With Sage Oil Vac mobile lube systems, we can quickly load our tanks from larger barrels, which is much easier and it has driven down our prices to as little as $10 a gallon. In just one year, we’ve been able to save around $12,500 on oil. The savings have been huge for us.”
The impeller pumps that Big D Companies service team used previously had a limited operational life and required routine maintenance. The company’s first Sage Oil Vac mobile lube system is still going strong and hasn’t needed much maintenance other than a few filter changes in four years. “Impeller pumps aren’t costly, but we would go through a lot of them. When they broke down on a service call, things took much longer,” added Villanueva. “Our first Sage Oil Vac mobile lube skid has been mounted on three different trucks since we purchased it. On average, we put around 250,000 miles on our trucks before replacing them. This unit has traveled more than 750,000 miles and has been almost completely trouble free.”
Keeping it clean
Another benefit of using a mobile lube system the team at Big D Construction and their customers appreciate is the cleanliness of the whole service process. Big D Companies has replaced its fleet factory-made drain plugs with Sage Oil Vac Femco® drain plugs, which allows the suction hose of the waste oil tank to connect directly to the oil pan of the machine without having to remove the plug. “Draining and refilling machines is easier and cleaner,” said Villanueva. “The equipment being serviced, our vehicles and our technicians all stay clean in the process. We’re able to reduce the chance of any kind of oil spilling, which helps us come across even more professional in the eyes of our customers.”
Satisfied customers best benefit of all
The team at Big D Companies knows their reputation is on the line every time a generator goes out on rent. Their customers’ operations depend on those machines to run around the clock and are acutely aware anytime they’re not. Diligent preventative maintenance is the key to reducing downtime and maximizing the life of a machine, which is why Villanueva and his team’s efforts are so important to Big D Companies overall operations.
“Our president, Don Tomlin, started Big D Construction under the principle of creating economic value for our customers and ourselves by identifying new and better ways of working. Making the switch to Sage Oil Vac mobile lube systems for routine in-the-field equipment maintenance delivers value to our customers and our organization. What’s more, our initial investment was quickly recouped through cost and labor savings. It has been a win for everyone involved,” Villanueva concluded.