Local business drilling into global markets

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By Belinda Willis

An uplift in the South Australian mining and energy sector is seeing Adelaide company Trymoss Engineering poised to capitalise on new opportunities.

Signs of new projects activating across the state means new contracts are appearing and Trymoss is already looking to employ new staff, according to chief executive Stephen Moss.

It’s good news for supply chain businesses like the small northern suburbs company that is developing technologies not only used on mining and energy projects in SA, but on a global scale too.

Stephen says Trymoss Engineering and its 15 staff have been kept busy in the past few years as the business, established by his father, Jason Moss in 1992, has concentrated on its diverse revenue streams.

“In the last 12 to 18 months it has really picked up again, we’re up to five or six cylinders for a particular company, and we’ve picked up four or five new customers in recent months,” he says.

Family business Trymoss Engineering, based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has been manufacturing fittings and machinery since the early ’90s.

Trymoss Engineering specialises in hydraulic cylinder and manufacture repair for the mining industry and down-hole repairs on threads and tooling.

The hydraulic cylinders are designed and manufactured for excavators and trucks.

Then there’s also work Trymoss undertakes in the Australian agriculture, water, waste and transport industries, building or fixing hydraulics for anything from buckets on tractors to hooks on cranes.

“We’re just never one to put eggs in one basket, we do a vast array of machining and fabricating and fittings,” Stephen says.

“And now we’ve also found ourselves in a pretty niche part of the market manufacturing hydraulics to meet custom needs.”

This Trymoss product is a ‘CNC machining cooling hub’ for use in a power plant.

The company is also responsible for breakthrough technology tested and developed in SA.

It was when Stephen heard about American oil and gas companies struggling with a drill continually getting stuck on horizontal coal seams that he headed to the workshop to find a solution.

The Centrefire system that emerged from his tinkering has now been proved, patented in Canada, China, Russia, Australia and most recently the United States, and is primed and ready to tackle the recent uplift in the oil and gas industry.

“It’s unique, it’s the only one of its kind … and now we’re ready to roll,” says Stephen, who is chief executive of Trymoss Engineering and also its sister company and owner of the Centrefire technology, HPHT Drilling Tools.

The down-hole technology works by vibrating a drill or drill string to prevent tools from getting stuck or damaged during underground mining – and it first proved itself on its maiden outing with Beach Energy in SA during 2014.

Drill bits were continually breaking during the local project that involved particularly hard ground so the Centrefire was fitted above the bit “and acted a bit like a shock absorber and gently pulsed it forward”.

Trymoss Engineering chief executive Stephen Moss, left, and his brother Mitchell
Moss putting the Centrefire together.

The tool, Mr Moss said, prevented any further drill breakages.

On the back of this early success, Stephen took his invention to the US and quickly garnered interest from Canadian-based Cougar Drilling Solutions, and within months he was running some 20 jobs in Texas during 2015.

“We’d sent 10 to 15 units over to America and we couldn’t keep up,” he said.

But then the oil and gas crash hit, Cougar Drilling Solutions pulled out of the US, leaving HPHT Drilling Tools and its Centrefire tool “a bit stranded”.

While other parts of the business kept the work flowing, Stephen continued to prepare the Centrefire technology, organising the patents and ensuring it was well tested in the field.

The Centrefire in pieces.

Now the company is seeing an uplift in the oil and gas industry “especially in America where we were doing work before, in the past six months we’ve re-established connections with a few agents and we were back over there running a job in Oklahoma about three months ago”.

The new work secured overseas is not only creating more jobs in SA – as Trymoss expanded its workforce this year and HPHT is further developing the Centrefire technology – but it’s also strengthening the state’s ties with international mining and resource sectors.

HPHT Drilling Tools is also working hard to protect its technology, only renting out the tool and not selling the product or the engineering designs in its work in Australia and the US.

Stephen claims his invention is far easier to use than similar products on the market that are much larger and harder to transport to site or to service or fix if they are damaged.

“I’m planning to head back to the US in the next month or so for a new job in Texas, that will be our first job with a new group and the potential is really, really promising,” he adds.

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