The Addison-based Wilson Co.’s Systems Division always is under pressure — making equipment that’s used to help drill a mile into the earth, engage in aerial combat at 20,000 feet, or break through the bounds of Earth 62 miles into outer space.
The company builds equipment that can generate up to 32,000 pounds per square inch for Halliburton’s oil and gas wells or Lockheed Martin F-35 program in Fort Worth. But, Wilson’s latest venture takes things to new heights, the cold silence of outer space, where new $75,000 devices can generate 10,000 psi for hydraulic pressure testing in reusable rockets.
Among all the welded steel frames that will eventually end up on an offshore oil rig in the North Sea, sit the four units that eventually will end up in space.
Encased in glass, these pressure testers are accentuated with smooth lines, shiny components and an aesthetic that begs to be looked at. They light up different colors so everyone knows what’s going on with the equipment.
For this client, form was just as important as function.
Dave Pellerin, vice president of Wilson’s hydraulic systems controls and service, can’t say who the customer is but it’s one of the pioneers of private space flight.
The first four Intellitest units shipped out in February bound for a factory.
They’re launching reusable rockets into space and use the Wilson Co.’s testing equipment to determine if the components are still space worthy. They apply pressure to the rocket that mimics what it will experience at liftoff.
“All the operator has to do is push the start button and it does everything else,” Dave Pellerin said.
Unlike most of Wilson Co.’s equipment, these devices can be operated remotely, even from a tablet.
“All the operator has to do is push the start button and it does everything else,” Pellerin said. “We capture all the data as it’s happening and then that data can be transferred to their server electronically or it can be held in place.”
“It can send a text or email saying the system has stopped,” he said.
This is a revolution in hydraulic testing because it takes the operator out of harm’s way. It’s something they hope other clients will use because it sets them apart.
“The difficulty for us is selling the technology,” Pellerin said. “Convincing the customers that the automation is going to save him time, save him money and free up his operator to do other functions while the system’s running and provide a greater level of safety because you’re far removed from the test.”
The devices can go from zero to 10,000 psi in a matter of seconds. And most importantly, they can reach the same pressure multiple times.
“Every time you run a test, you’re hitting that test point at that test level within 0.1 percent of that previous test,” Pellerin said. “It’s very repeatable.”
The Wilson Co. was founded in 1965 and now has six locations throughout Texas. About 70 percent of the company’s business is as a distributor of fluid components for Parker Hannifin. However, the systems division side of the business has doubled in sales in the last year. They’ve got about 20 employees now.
“We’re in almost every different industry,” said Gant Bills, president of the systems division. “Defense, oil and gas, and now aerospace.”
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