Keystone Engineering is expanding its scope of value to companies seeking design and engineering expertise.
Rudy Hall, P.E., has been interested in building things since he was a kid. The co-founder of Keystone Engineering used to work with his dad to build and design, and he was fascinated by investigating and understanding how things worked.
He and his co-founder Ed Genois, P.E. worked together on the executive team at a different engineering firm for nearly two decades. Although an offer was made for the employees to buy the engineering firm, Hall and Genois decided it would be better to forge their own path. Figuring out how to build for the oil and gas industry provides its own thrills, but being able to build a business speaks to a legacy a young Hall could only dream of.
Keystone Engineering has provided quality drafting, engineering, and project management services for three decades. In its 30th year of business, some new developments are on the horizon, namely a procurement services division and an impressive dive into waters generally unexplored in heavy industry: micro-automation.
Procurement Services Division
While the procurement discipline is a fairly standard process across industries, Keystone serves a broad base of clients who have unique expectations for how the supply chain process steps should be executed.
“Because we essentially work from project to project—and, to a degree, client to client—the complexity indeed comes from both the disparate project designs and the particular package of services desired by our clients,” said Matt Cockfield, Procurement Director at Keystone. “So in meeting client expectations, we have adopted startup principles to develop methods that are highly flexible, allowing us to better respond to each client and their evolving needs.”
Since its founding in 1988, procurement tasks, which initially were a large segment of the business handled by procurement specialists, has more recently become largely incidental and handled mostly by engineers. Today with renewed focus they are completed by procurement specialists.
“We provide the engineering and design for upstream and midstream oil and gas companies. But instead of just handing over drawings, we could purchase the equipment implicit in those drawings and get it to the worksite. That was my value proposition.”
The change has been gradual but dramatic. By reintroducing procurement at this new scale, designers—and in particular, engineers—are adding more value because their roles are being extended because the scopes of services that require their technical expertise are being expanded.
“For example, a deliverable that usually ends with a set of IFC drawings now more often includes sourcing and acquisition from bills of material, so the input of the engineer may now continue into the construction phase of a project,” Cockfield said.
The biggest change is that while engineers and procurement specialists work in a much more integrated fashion, the work breakdown structures of a project now better allocate resources for quality of service, cost, and efficiency.
Keystone is now winning not only larger projects but scopes of works that contain both disciplines, engineering and procurement. And the company is getting repeat business with these scopes bundled.
“When our clients have a project the scale of which exceeds their capacity and expertise, Keystone provides a solution to meet this demand. Keystone is able to marshal forces quickly for improved project delivery in terms of quality, speed, and total cost.”
Technology at Keystone Engineering
Keystone Engineering has never shirked away from investigating and utilizing new technology, and in fact is a pioneer in the offshore field with its twisted jacket foundation. It reduces both the cost and risk of traditional offshore foundations—manufacturing costs are 20 percent less than tradition foundations. It also requires less parts, and less time to assemble.
The U.S. Department of Energy has funded several projects using the foundation for wind innovation at sea. It attracted recent DoE funding for good reason: Hurricane Katrina passed directly over the site of an oil & gas application and that twisted jacket foundation incurred zero damage.
Besides re-establishing the procurement department, Cockfield also has been on a journey to improve Keystone Engineering’s internal technical capabilities.
“The key to ensuring we maintain our flexibility is using select tools in a way that allow for automation on a small scale—micro-automation—because with our services model it would be impractical to automate on the large scale or be limited by legacy ERP systems.
“So digitizing our processes with highly robust and secure cloud applications has been another critical ingredient to our success. These efficient tools for handling tactical tasks free up capacity for strategic work. Of course, efficient tooling alone cannot do it; the right people are still needed to effectively apply the technology.
“Operating from a static process is simply no longer viable; the process is perpetually molten so the procurement approach must always evolve. Our procurement services offering is beyond the point of start-up and now more of a service platform to be continually informed by our clients’ needs.”
A Commitment to Innovation
Keystone Engineering’s commitment to innovative products and services will continue to elevate the brand to the top spot in the industry. But Cockfield was quick to point out the company’s services were not just for the giant corporations of the world.
“Whether for small independents or global majors, our nimble and quick team has the expertise to provide highly flexible and efficient services spanning the entire supply chain process, from sourcing to delivery,” he said. “Whether for small expense or large capex projects, we provide tailored services to complete projects on time and on budget.”
“As a company, we focus on getting better every day,” Hall said. “We try to be innovative, we provide good services, and we’re trying to expand. Most importantly we want to provide a good work environment for employees and have that team spirit.”
Keystone Engineering Inc. opened for business on July 26, 1988. The Company was formed by Ed Genois, P.E. and Rudy Hall, P.E. for the purpose of providing quality project management, engineering, drafting and procurement services to the oil and gas industry, refineries, chemical plants, and bulk handling facilities.
Keystone Engineering HQ
1100 W Causeway Approach
Mandeville, LA 70471