Specific Systems is Name of Their Game

Tulsa-based Specific Systems began manufacturing a series 20-ton HVAC units for installation on pump houses along the 2,148-mile Keystone Pipeline.
Remotely controlled, the pump houses drive up to five 6,500-horsepower electric motors per station. Those pumps will feed 700,000 barrels of oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to U.S. markets at Wood River, Ill., near St. Louis, and to Cushing. Eventually, the $6.9 billion pipeline, a joint project between ConocoPhillips and TransCanada Corp., will extend to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
The drive systems in these 41 remote locations generate an enormous amount of heat, said Mike Bolick, president and owner.
“These are built to operate in hazardous, explosive and corrosive atmospheres,” he said. “These pump drives generate a lot of heat, up to 60 tons of cooling requirement.”
A residence might require 3 tons of cooling.
Construction on the stations is scheduled to begin in the spring 2010 and run through the end of 2011. The pipeline will carry up to 900,000 barrels a day of the crude oil in a heated slurry.
Specific Systems grew at a 40 percent rate in 2008 — on top of the 18 percent growth in 2007.
Specific Systems has performed a number of projects since its founding 35 years ago — from cooling tar oil sands in Canada. to cooling the Kremlin in Moscow, to cooling the crawlers that deliver the space shuttle to its launch pad or the Broken Arrow Armory for Walt Disney Studios.
“That project had nothing to do with our business,” Bolick said, referring to a call he took late one Friday afternoon, when Walt Disney was filming in BA and needed a cooling unit by Monday to complete the film “Tex.”
Michael Bolick, Mike’s son and director of Information Tech at the company, said that is exactly what Specific Systems is about — meeting demands on short noitce.
“We can get these crazy demands. A majority of customers do not know what they need. They come to us with the specifications from their end customer and do not know what it means,” Michael Bolick said. “They say, ‘What are we supposed to buy?’ and we take those specs and design a modular system to fit it.”
Specific Systems has earned a reputation for taking on those “crazy” projects. The company has made it a practice to to design either a roof-mounted or a window-mounted piece of equipment specially for an application, Mike Bolick said.
“Everything we build is 100 percent redundant — because any down time is money to these guys. If the air conditioning goes off, they have to turn the pumps off,” he said.

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