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Hindawi Publishing Corporation

Advances in Mechanical Engineering


Volume 2014, Article ID 923178, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/923178

Research Article
Study on a New Steering Mechanism for Point-the-Bit
Rotary Steerable System

Yuanzhi Li, Wentie Niu, Hongtao Li, Zhenjun Luo, and Lina Wang
Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design of Ministry of Education, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Wentie Niu; niuwentie@tju.edu.cn

Received 30 October 2013; Revised 29 December 2013; Accepted 29 December 2013; Published 23 February 2014

Academic Editor: M. Affan Badar

Copyright © 2014 Yuanzhi Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This paper presents a novel steering mechanism embedded in a point-the-bit rotary steerable system (RSS) for oilfield exploitation.
The new steering mechanism adopts a set of universal joints to alleviate the high alternative strain on drilling mandrel and
employs a specially designed planetary gear small tooth number difference (PGSTD) to achieve directional steering. Its principle
and characteristics are explained and examined through a series of analyses. First, the eccentric displacement vector of the offset
point on the drilling mandrel is formulated and kinematic solutions are established. Next, structural design for the new steering
mechanism is addressed. Then, procedures and program architectures for simulating offset state of the drilling mandrel and motion
trajectory of the whole steering mechanism are presented. After that, steering motion simulations of the new steering mechanism
for both 2D and 3D well trajectories are then performed by combining LabVIEW and SolidWorks. Finally, experiments on the
steering motion control of the new steering mechanism prototype are carried out. The simulations and experiments reveal that the
steering performance of the new steering mechanism is satisfied. The research can provide good guidance for further research and
engineering application of the point-the-bit RSS.

1. Introduction RSSs, the steering mechanisms belong to push-the-bit type,


like the PowerDrive RSS from Schlumberger and the Auto-
Directional drilling is crucial for oilfield exploration and Track RSS from Baker Hughes. The steering mechanisms of
development. The introduction of rotary steerable system push-the-bit type are normally powered by hydraulic and
(RSS) in the late 1990s marked a significant advance in drilling mainly consisted of an outer cylinder, hydraulic distribution
technology. RSSs are complex drilling tools integrated with components, control components, and drilling mandrel. On
mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic components [1]. Com- the outer cylinder, three stretching pads are placed uniformly
pared with traditional drilling tools, the advantages of RSS and each stretching pad is connected to a hydraulic cylinder.
technology include real-time drilling direction adjustment, During drilling process, the stretching pads will contact
intelligent well trajectory control, and smooth well trajectory with the well wall in turn powered by hydraulic cylinders.
without spiral borehole [2–5]. A rotary steerable system Due to reacting force, the drilling mandrel will be deviated
mainly consists of steering mechanism, a measurements- from its present pointing axis and the drilling direction
while-drilling system (MWD), a ground-to-underground will be changed [10–12]. Although the push-the-bit steering
two-way communication system, and a ground monitoring mechanism can achieve flexible directional steering, several
system [6, 7]. Among these components, the steering mech- problems are observed in practice. A major problem is that
anism is crucial. With the steering control of the steering the intensive impact on the stretching pads may cause violent
mechanism, the drilling direction of the drill bit can be vibrations of the steering mechanism and lead to poor drilling
changed continuously during drilling [6–8]. well holes. Additionally, it is difficult to seal the hydraulic-
According to the steering control principle, existing powered steering mechanism [13].
steering mechanisms can be classified into two types, namely, RSSs with point-the-bit steering mechanism, for example,
push-the-bit type and point-the-bit type [9]. For most early the Geo-Pilot RSS from Halliburton and the PowerDrive

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2 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Drilling shaft Universal joints Offset device Drilling mandrel Outer cylinder Drill bit
A

Cantilever bearing A Spherical roller bearing

Z4󳰀
Z5
Rotation driven gear

r O1 O2 Planet gear
Φ1
Φ2
Φ3

O Drilling mandrel

Spherical plain bearing


r

Section A-A

Figure 1: Schematic layout of the new steering mechanism.

Xceed RSS from Schlumberger, were proposed later to over- steering motion simulations of the new steering mechanism.
come the above drawbacks [14]. The point-the-bit steering Section 5 demonstrates the prototype experiments and dis-
mechanism normally utilizes a set of offset mechanisms to cusses the characteristics of the proposed mechanism. And
deflect the drilling mandrel and hence change the drilling finally Section 6 draws the conclusion.
direction. The offset mechanism consisted of several eccentric
rings. Each eccentric ring is powered by motors and can
rotate, respectively. During the rotation of the eccentric 2. Working Principle and Kinematic Solution
rings, the offset amplitude and offset phase of the drilling
2.1. Working Principle of the New Steering Mechanism. As
mandrel can be adjusted [15, 16]. The point-the-bit steering
shown in Figure 1, the drilling shaft is separated by the
mechanism can afford better well holes quality, longer service
universal joints into two portions, namely, a normal drilling
life, lower vibration, and better efficiency of rock cutting.
shaft and a hollow drilling mandrel. With the new layout,
Moreover, the point-the-bit steering mechanism can control
the drilling mandrel can be easily offset by offset device [19].
its trajectory more accurately and quicker than the push-the-
Moreover, the alternative strain on the drilling mandrel is
bit steering mechanism, as it is powered by motors rather than
expected to be much reduced, and the mechanical structure
hydraulic cylinders. Further, there is no trouble on sealing the
can be greatly simplified. Besides, the universal joints can
steering mechanism [17]. Nevertheless, existing point-the-bit
compensate the displacement of the drilling mandrel along
steering mechanism is not perfect, although the existing point
the axis direction.
he-bit steering mechanism has demonstrated the capbility of
The offset device is the key part of the new steering mech-
the existing point the-bit steering mechanism capability to
anism. It consists of a specially designed planetary gear small
steer the drill bit to target locations. A prominent problem
tooth number difference (PGSTD) and two servomotors.
is the high alternative strain on the drilling mandrel, which
In the PGSTD, the revolution driven gear has an eccentric
may lead to a reduced service life of the mandrel and a severe
hole where the planet gear is located inside. The planet gear
wear of the eccentric rings [17].
also has an eccentric hole where the drilling mandrel passes
Considering the limitations of existing steering mecha- through. Driven by two motors, the PGSTD can continuously
nism, the authors propose a novel steering mechanism used offset the drilling mandrel from its present pointing axis.
in point-the-bit RSSs. It is conceived that the new steering As illustrated in Figure 1, 𝑂, 𝑂1 , and 𝑂2 are, respectively,
mechanism should be easier to assemble and can alleviate the the centers of gyration for rotation driven gear, planet
high alternative strain on drilling mandrel, and additionally gear, and drilling mandrel. 𝑍4󸀠 and 𝑍5 are, respectively, the
it can simplify the control process [15, 18]. This paper will inner tooth numbers of the rotation driven gear and the
try to investigate the characteristics of the new mechanism, tooth number of the planet gear. And Φ1 , Φ2 , and Φ3 are
and the related contents are organized as follows. Section 2 the dimensional parameters of the PGSTD. Note that the
explains the working principle and the kinematic solution distance of 𝑂𝑂1 and that of 𝑂1 𝑂2 are both denoted as 𝑟.
of the new steering mechanism. Section 3 introduces the These parameters will be specified considering the steering
structural design and the control system design of the new performance demand and the volume limitation of the new
steering mechanism. Section 4 investigates the combined steering mechanism.

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 3

3
M1
6
4󳰀
4

5
13
T
9 e1 O 11
O1 𝜃
e
10 12
O2 e2
8

7
M2

The axis of the new steering mechanism


The eccentric axis of the revolution driven gear
The eccentric axis of planet gear

Figure 2: The schematic structure of the offsetting device in the steering mechanism. 1: DC servomotor M1, 2: DC servomotor M2, 3: rotation
drive gear, 4: rotation driven gear, 5: planet gear, 6: revolution driven gear, 7: revolution drive gear, 8: spherical plain bearings, 9: drilling shaft,
10: universal joints, 11: drilling mandrel, 12: spherical roller bearing, 13: drill bit.

The schematic structure of offset device is further detailed 2.2. Kinematic Solution for the New Steering Mechanism
in Figure 2. Two DC servomotors (M1 and M2) control the
rotation and the revolution of the planet gear separately. 2.2.1. Forward Kinematic Solution. A forward kinematic solu-
When M1 rotates, the planet gear will rotate around its own tion is used to determine the resultant eccentric displacement
axis. When M2 rotates, the planet gear will revolute around vector of the offset point on the drilling mandrel from
the axis of the steering mechanism. In the meantime, the the rotation angles of the two input motors. To obtain the
planet gear will rotate around its own axis due to the gearing solution, a kinematic model of the eccentric displacement
interaction between the rotation driven gear and the planet vector of the offset point on the drilling mandrel is built as
gear. As the drilling mandrel is constrained in the eccentric illustrated in Figure 3.
hole of the planet gear by a set of spherical plain bearings, it Initially, the steering mechanism does not offset the
always follows the movement of the planet gear. drilling mandrel and the resultant eccentric displacement
As illustrated in Figure 2, 𝑂2 is also the offset point on vector (𝑒) of the offset point is 0. Under the condition, 𝑂2 is
located at 𝑂20 which is coincident with the origin 𝑂.
the drilling mandrel. The displacement vector (𝑒) from 𝑂
Take the points 𝑂 and 𝑂1 as the origins to establish
to 𝑂2 is defined as the eccentric displacement vector of the
the system coordinate and the local coordinate system,
offset point on the drilling mandrel. According to vector
respectively. And, hence, the resultant eccentric displacement
composition principle, 𝑒 is the result of vector composition by vector (𝑒) is synthesized by 𝑒1 in the system coordinate and 𝑒2
𝑒1 (displacement vector from 𝑂 to 𝑂1 ) and 𝑒2 (displacement in the local coordinate system.
vector from 𝑂1 to 𝑂2 ). Obviously, 𝑒 determines the steering In this special PGSTD, when the planet gear revolutes, it
performance of the new steering mechanism. With a suitable will rotate around its own axis due to the gearing interaction.
revolution and rotation of the planet gear, the amplitude of According to the drive ratio and structural parameters of the
𝑒 ranges from 0 to 2𝑟, and the phase ranges from 0∘ to 360∘ . PGSTD, the relationship between the revolution angle 𝛼 and
A special case is shown in the figure when the directions of the rotation angle 𝛽 can be derived as
𝑒1 and 𝑒2 are in coincidence, and hence the amplitude of 𝑒
reaches the maximum. 𝛽 = −0.1𝛼. (1)
Considering the demanded performances and the inter-
nal volume limitation of our prototype, the eccentric dis- During steering process, M2 firstly starts to drive the
placement values are defined as 𝑒1 = 𝑒2 = 𝑟 = 5.25 mm. And revolution of the planet gear. And then, M1 starts to drive the
then, a steering range of 1 degree is achieved. Other structural rotation of the planet gear to take the drilling mandrel to the
parameters of the new steering mechanism are chosen as target position. The process of the forward kinematic solution
shown in Table 1 [20]. for the new steering mechanism is shown as follows.

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4 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Table 1: Structural parameters of the new steering mechanism.

𝑍3 𝑍4 𝑍4󸀠 𝑍5 𝑍6 𝑍7 Modulus Φ1 (mm) Φ2 (mm) Φ3 (mm)


17 38 33 30 38 17 3.5 250 100 60

y
Trajectory of O1

Trajectory of O2 around O12

O21

O(O20 )
x
𝛼2
O22 𝜀 𝛼1
O12 𝛽1
𝛿1
𝛿2
O11
O10

O23 O24

Trajectory of O2 around O11

e1
e2
e

Figure 3: The kinematical model of the eccentric displacement vector.

When the revolution angle of the planet gear is 𝛼1 , the When the revolution is completed, M1 starts to drive the
center of gyration for the planet gear will move from 𝑂10 to planet gear rotating around 𝑂11 . When the rotation angle is
𝑂11 . With the effect of the gearing interaction, the rotation 𝛿1 , the offset point on the drilling mandrel will move from
angle of the planet gear is 𝛽1 , leading to the offset point on 𝑂21 to 𝑂22 . New 𝑒2 (𝑂11 𝑂22 ) in the local coordinate is
the drilling mandrel moving from 𝑂20 to 𝑂21 . In the system
coordinate, 𝑒1 (𝑂𝑂11 ) can be written as 𝑒2 = 𝑂11 𝑂22
−𝑟 sin 𝛼1 𝑟 cos (𝛿1 + 𝛽1 + 90∘ ) −𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 ) (5)
𝑒1 = 𝑂𝑂11 = ( ). (2) =( )=( ).
−𝑟 cos 𝛼1 ∘
𝑟 sin (𝛿1 + 𝛽1 + 90 ) 𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 )
In the local coordinate (take 𝑂11 as the origin), 𝑒2
(𝑂11 𝑂21 ) can be written as Finally, the resultant eccentric displacement vector is

𝑟 cos (90∘ + 𝛽1 ) −𝑟 sin 𝛽1 −𝑟 sin 𝛼1 − 𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 )


𝑒2 = 𝑂11 𝑂21 = ( ∘
)=( ). (3) 𝑒 = 𝑂𝑂22 = 𝑒1 + 𝑒2 = ( ). (6)
𝑟 sin (90 + 𝛽1 ) 𝑟 cos 𝛽1 −𝑟 cos 𝛼1 + 𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 )
According to vectors synthesizing principle, the resultant
Hereto, the first steering adjustment for the drilling
eccentric displacement vector of the offset point on the
direction has been completed. To achieve further directional
drilling mandrel is
steering, the steering mechanism will act in the same way.
−𝑟 sin 𝛼1 − 𝑟 sin 𝛽1 When the second revolution angle of the planet gear is 𝛼2 ,
𝑒 = 𝑂𝑂21 = 𝑒1 + 𝑒2 = ( ). (4) the center of gyration for the planet gear will rotate around
−𝑟 cos 𝛼1 + 𝑟 cos 𝛽1 𝑂 from 𝑂11 to 𝑂12 . In the meanwhile, the offset point on

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 5

Drilling shaft Universal joints Offsetting device Drilling mandrel Drill bit

Outer cylinder Spherical roller bearing

Figure 4: The schematic of the steering mechanism.

the drilling mandrel will move from 𝑂22 to 𝑂23 . In the system Based on mathematical induction method, the resultant
coordinate, 𝑒1 (𝑂𝑂12 ) can be written as eccentric displacement vector of the offset point on the
drilling mandrel can be deduced as
−𝑟 sin (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 )
𝑒1 = 𝑂𝑂12 = ( ). (7) 𝑒 = 𝑂𝑂2𝑖 = 𝑒1 + 𝑒2
−𝑟 cos (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 )

In the local coordinate (take 𝑂12 as the origin), 𝑒2 −𝑟 sin (∑ 𝛼𝑖 ) − 𝑟 sin (∑ 𝛽𝑖 + ∑ 𝛿𝑖 ) (14)
(𝑂12 𝑂23 ) can be written as =( ),
−𝑟 cos (∑ 𝛼𝑖 ) − 𝑟 cos (∑ 𝛽𝑖 + ∑ 𝛿𝑖 )
𝑟 cos 𝜀
𝑒2 = 𝑂12 𝑂23 = ( ), (8) where 𝛼𝑖 is the revolution angle of the planet gear, 𝛽𝑖 is the
𝑟 sin 𝜀 rotation angle due to the gearing interaction, and 𝛿𝑖 is the
rotation angle.
where 𝜀 is the whole rotation angle of the planet gear from the
initial state and it can be expressed as
2.2.2. Inverse Kinematic Solution. An inverse kinematic solu-
∘ tion is computed to determine the rotation angles of the
𝜀 = 𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 + 90 . (9)
two input motors from a specified eccentric displacement
And hence 𝑒2 can be further expressed as vector. First, the rotation angle and the revolution angle of the
PGSTD can be obtained according to the kinematic equations
−𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 ) in Section 2.2.1. As the equations produce two sets of angles
𝑒2 = ( ). (10) for a specified eccentric displacement vector, an optimal set
𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 )
of angles is chosen according to the smallest rotation angle
As a result, the resultant eccentric displacement vector is principle. With the optimal values of 𝛼 and 𝛿, one can deduce
the relationship between the rotation angle (𝛿) of the planet
𝑒 = 𝑂𝑂23 = 𝑒1 + 𝑒2 gear and the rotation angle (𝜆 1 ) of motor M1 as

−𝑟 sin (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 ) − 𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 ) (11) 380


𝜆1 = − 𝛿. (15)
=( ). 187
−𝑟 cos (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 ) + 𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 )
Moreover, the relationship between the revolution angle
After the revolution is completed, M1 starts and the planet (𝛼) of the planet gear and the rotation angle (𝜆 2 ) of M2 can
gear rotates around its axis to take the drilling mandrel to the be deduced as
second target position. When the second rotation angle is 𝛿2 ,
the offset point on the drilling mandrel will rotate around 𝑂12 38
𝜆2 = − 𝛼. (16)
from 𝑂23 to 𝑂24 . The new 𝑒2 (𝑂12 𝑂24 ) in the local coordinate 17
is
3. Design of the New Steering Mechanism
𝑟 cos (𝜀 + 𝛿2 )
𝑒2 = 𝑂12 𝑂24 = ( ) 3.1. Structural Design. The structural design of the new
𝑟 sin (𝜀 + 𝛿2 )
(12) steering mechanism is determined based on the proposed
−𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 + 𝛿2 ) working principle. The steering mechanism consists of nine
=( ). major components, including drilling shaft, universal joints,
𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 + 𝛿2 ) offset device, drilling mandrel, outer cylinder, spherical roller
bearing unit, upper and bottom stabilizers, and drill bit.
Finally, the resultant eccentric displacement vector is The schematic of the overall structure for the new steering
mechanism is shown in Figure 4.
𝑒 = 𝑂𝑂24 = 𝑒1 + 𝑒2
The rotary drilling shaft is hollow and can transfer drilling
−𝑟 sin (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 ) − 𝑟 sin (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 + 𝛿2 ) (13) liquid into the steering mechanism in addition to torque. The
=( ). universal joints connect the drilling shaft and the drilling
−𝑟 cos (𝛼1 + 𝛼2 ) + 𝑟 cos (𝛽1 + 𝛿1 + 𝛽2 + 𝛿2 ) mandrel to drive the latter. In addition there is an axial

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6 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Ideal well Offset


trajectory command

Control computer Motion control


module

DAQ module Motor M2

Motor M1
Position/acceleration Displacement/angle
sensors sensors

Steering mechanism Drilling mandrel

Mechanical connection
Electrical connection

Figure 5: The schematic of control system for the new steering mechanism.

prismatic joint in the universal joints to compensate the been developed by using 3D model and real control software.
axis displacement of the drilling mandrel. The offset device And the simulator can be implemented in real system without
is composed of two DC servomotors and a set of PGSTD any revision [21–25]. The simulator is run by interoperation
as presented in Section 2.1. The outer cylinder nearly does between NI LabVIEW and SolidWorks. Control applications
not rotate during drilling process and acts as a platform for for simulation are developed in LabVIEW while the 3D
installing other components. The spherical roller bearing unit model for simulation is created in SolidWorks. For the
is used to provide a steady pivot for the drilling mandrel. simulation, NI SoftMotion is mainly used to control the 3D
Further it can transfer the force of drill bit to outer cylinder to model in SolidWorks [26]. The simulation flowchart with
alleviate the high alternative strain on drilling mandrel. The SolidWorks, LabVIEW, and the SoftMotion module is shown
upper and bottom stabilizers (not shown) contact with the in Figure 6.
well wall during drilling process to keep the outer cylinder Before the simulation runs, input parameters were cal-
relatively steady. The last component is drill bit. culated in MATLAB. According to the known parameters,
deflection rates and tool face angles of the steering mech-
3.2. Control System Design. The control system mainly con- anism could be deduced. Further, refering to the method
sists of control computer, motion control module, DAQ presented in Section 2.2, revolution and rotation angles of the
module, and sensors. The control computer generates ideal planet gear could be achieved. Finally, the rotation angles of
well trajectory. In addition, it compares the data acquired by the two motors could be calculated. When all calculations
DAQ module and the data of ideal well trajectory to calculate were completed, input parameters were stored in text file
trajectory deviation and then generate motor commands. The format preparing for later simulation.
motion control module is a commercial motion controller The control application for the simulation was created
with customized control codes. It receives command from the in LabVIEW with SoftMotion. And the control application
control computer and controls two input motors. The DAQ mainly consists of data read module, parameters set module,
module acquires data from several sensors. The schematic of and results displayed module. The data read module reads
control system is shown in Figure 5. input parameters for the simulation. The parameters set
As the existing steering mechanisms are mostly powered module is used to set control parameters for the simulation.
by hydraulic cylinder (push-the-bit RSS) or eccentric rings The results displayed module displays the simulation results.
(point-the-bit RSS), the speed ability of the control system Control application for the simulation is shown in Figure 7.
is poor and control arithmetic is complicated [2]. Compared The 3D model of the steering mechanism for the sim-
with the existing steering mechanism, the speed ability of ulation was built in SolidWorks. When interference detec-
the proposed new steering mechanism is improved and the tion is completed, the assembly model was imported into
control arithmetic is much easier as it is powered by gears. SolidWorks Motion module. In the Motion module, virtual
axes for rotation drive were added and virtual sensors were
4. Motion Simulation defined. The simplified 3D model for simulation is shown in
Figure 8.
4.1. Procedures and Program Architectures for the Motion NI SoftMotion is mainly applied to control the motion
Simulation. The motion simulation is performed based on of the 3D model in SolidWorks. With SoftMotion, the
LabVIEW and SolidWorks. With this method, a simulator has control application created in LabVIEW can be linked to

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 7

MatLAB LabVIEW SolidWorks

Coordinate Inclination Azimuth Create new project Build models


value angle angle

Create block diagram Create assembly


Database for drilling well trajectory

Deflection rate Tool face angle Interference detection


Create front panel
1 2

Offset amplitude Offset phase 4 Define control application 3 Interference Yes


exists?
Create motion
Revolution angle Rotation angle No
profile
for planet gear for planet gear
Add assembly to motion
Simulate
Rotation angle Rotation angle Define motors/sensors
for motor 1 for motor 2 Analyze

SoftMotion All deployed


Yes
Add assembly
to LV project Connect Create virtual Link motors with
All resource can No
SolidWorks axis and SolidWorks and be matched?
Add control and LabVIEW coordinate map sensors
application to
LV project

Figure 6: Simulation flowchart with SolidWorks, LabVIEW, and the SoftMotion module.

Read data from file X position M1 rot. angle read


DBL DBL Axis 1 DBL
0 Y position M1 vel. read
132 F
DBL DBL
Number of rows DBL 0
M1 acl. read
1
Tool face angle DBL
Eccentric
DBL DBL M1 data read Error angle
?!
2 DBL
Revolution angle
Axis 2 M2 rot. angle read
DBL
DBL DBL
3 F M2 vel. read
Rotation angle DBL
0
DBL DBL M2 acl. read
DBL DBL
4 M1 rot. angle
M2 data read Error
Eccentric
3 DBL ?! displacement
DBL
5 Axis 1 DBL
M2 rot. angle
Motor 1 starts F 1000 DBL
DBL DBL 0
TF 0 Data restore
6 Sensor data
Error
read ?!
Axis 1 DBL
1
I/0

F Vel. of motor1 DBL TF Error


0 Acl. of motor1 DBL
?!
M1 moves 2D compass

Axis 2 Compass
TF Vector DBJ
I/0 Vel. of motor2 DBL helper
Error
?!
F Acl. of motor2 DBL M2 moves
0 TF
i

Figure 7: LabVIEW control application for motion control and simulation.

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8 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Axis 1 Online displayed value of a virtual sensor of Three Point Geometry Method.” According to “Modified

3.79
the offset amplitude Three Point Geometry Method,” the ideal well trajectory
between two adjacent target points can be approached by
a circular arc of actual drilling well trajectory. The circular
arc passing through three support points of the new steering
mechanism and its curvature is specified as the same as that of
Axis 2
the ideal well trajectory [28]. The schematic of the “Modified
Figure 8: The simplified and set 3D model for simulation. Three Point Geometry Method” principle to calculate the
deviation angle of the drilling mandrel is shown in Figure 9.
In Figure 9, points 1, 2, 3, and 4 are, respectively, the center
ST S1 of drill bit, bottom stabilizer, upper stabilizer, and bottom
x
S2 universal joint. Points 1, 2, and 3 are the support points of
y 1 the new steering mechanism against the well wall and they
3
𝜎 𝜃 2 determine the circular arc of the actual well trajectory. In the
4 schematic above, 𝑆1 , 𝑆2 , and 𝑆𝑇 are the known quantities; 𝑆3
S3 and 𝜎 are the variables; 𝜃 is the aim parameter. The process
to calculate the deviation angle of the drilling mandrel is as
Figure 9: Schematic of the “Modified Three Point Geometry
Method” principle. follows.
Take point 1 as the origin to establish the coordinate
system, and then the following equations can be obtained:
SolidWorks, leading them to synchronize with each other. 𝑦2 = 𝑆1 ,
In SoftMotion, virtual axis and sensors should be defined
and matched. When all motors and sensors are found and 𝑥3 = 𝑆3 sin 𝜎, (20)
matched correctly, the motion profile can be created and the
simulation will be ready. 𝑦3 = 𝑆1 + 𝑆2 + 𝑆3 cos 𝜎.
When the simulation runs, input parameters are read
by LabVIEW as presented by Step 1 shown in Figure 6. Then the curvature of the circular arc (𝜉) can be expressed
During the simulation process, the motion of 3D model as
in SolidWorks is controlled by LabVIEW as presented by 󵄨 󵄨
2 󵄨󵄨󵄨𝑥3 󵄨󵄨󵄨
Step 2. In the meanwhile, the simulation results obtained 𝜉=
by virtual sensors in SolidWorks are sent to LabVIEW as √(𝑥3 𝑦2 )2 + (𝑥32 + 𝑦22 − 𝑦2 𝑦3 )2
presented by Step 3. After the simulation is completed, the
actual well trajectory is drawn in MATLAB as presented by = 2𝑆3 sin 𝜎 × (𝑆12 𝑆32 sin2 𝜎
Step 4. By comparing the ideal well trajectory and the actual (21)
well trajectory, the steering performance analysis of the new
+ [𝑆22 + 2𝑆2 𝑆3 cos 𝜎 + 𝑆32
steering mechanism can be achieved.
2 −1/2
4.2. Motion Simulation for 2D Well Trajectory. 2D well trajec- +𝑆1 (𝑆2 + 𝑆3 cos 𝜎) ] ) .
tory is located on a vertical plane, and the inclination angle
changes continually while the azimuth angle keeps constant. As 𝜎 is small enough, suppose that sin 𝜎 = 𝜎, cos 𝜎 = 1,
A typical part of a 2D well trajectory is specified as and the expression above approximately equals the following:

𝑦 = 1.25𝑥2 + 2.5𝑥 (𝑥 ∈ [0, 12]) . (17) 2𝑆3 𝜎


𝜉= . (22)
(𝑆2 + 𝑆3 ) (𝑆1 + 𝑆2 + 𝑆3 )
Target points on the curve are obtained by sampling every
30 m [27]. Further, the inclination angle (𝜅) of each target Further, the deflection rate of the new steering mecha-
point can be calculated as nism can be calculated as follows:

𝜋 (60𝑆3 𝜎/ ((𝑆2 + 𝑆3 ) (𝑆1 + 𝑆2 + 𝑆3 )))
𝜅 = arctan (𝑦󸀠 ) = arctan (2.5𝑥 + 2.5) 𝜅 ∈ [0, ] . (18) 𝑘 = 30 𝜉 = . (23)
2 30 m
And then, the deflection rate (𝑘) between two adjacent Refering to the cosine and sine theorem, 𝑆3 and 𝜎 can be
target points is expressed as follows:

(𝜅(𝑖+1) − 𝜅𝑖 )
𝑘= . (19) 𝑆 3 = √𝑆𝑇2 + 𝑆22 − 2𝑆𝑇 𝑆2 cos 𝜃,
30 m
(24)
sin 𝜎 sin 𝜃 𝑆 sin 𝜃
Once the deflection rate is calculated, the deviation angle = 󳨐⇒ 𝜎 ≈ sin 𝜎 = 2 .
of the drilling mandrel can be deduced refering to “Modified 𝑆2 𝑆3 𝑆3

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 9

Table 2: Parameters for 2D well trajectory motion simulation.

A B C D E F
𝑋 (m) 3.97 5.98 7.52 8.83 9.98 11.03
𝑌 (m) 29.68 59.62 89.58 119.55 149.52 179.51
𝐿 (m) 30 60 90 120 150 180
𝜅 (∘ ) 4.55 3.24 2.64 2.29 2.04 1.86
𝑑 (mm) 0.430 1.331 0.601 0.361 0.247 0.183
𝛼 (∘ ) 87.65 −4.94 4.00 1.31 0.62 0.35
𝛿 (∘ ) −101.11 −4.44 3.60 1.18 0.56 0.32
𝜆 1 (∘ ) 205.47 9.03 −7.32 −2.40 −1.13 −0.64
𝜆 2 (∘ ) −195.93 11.03 −8.95 −2.93 −1.39 −0.78

As 𝜃 is also small enough, suppose that cos 𝜃 = 1 and 1.5 dBC


1.4
sin 𝜃 = 𝜃. And, hence, the deflection rate can be further 1.3
expressed: 1.2

Offset amplitude (mm)


1.1
1
60𝑆2 𝜃
𝑘= . (25) 0.9
𝑆𝑇 (𝑆1 + 𝑆𝑇 ) 0.8 dCD
0.7
0.6 dAB
In this new steering mechanism, the parameters of 𝑆1 , 0.5
dDE
dEF
𝑆2 , and 𝑆𝑇 are, respectively, assigned as 𝑆1 = 600 mm, 𝑆2 = 0.4
dFG
0.3
1000 mm, and 𝑆𝑇 = 1200 mm. As a result, the deflection rate 0.2
can be finally expressed: 0.1
0
1000 9126
(10.7𝜃)∘
𝑘= . (26) Time (ms)
30 m
Figure 10: Eccentric displacement for 2D well trajectory simulation.
Once the deflection rate (𝑘) is calculated, the deviation
angle (𝜃) can be deduced. Further, the offset amplitude of the
offset point can be calculated as −30
0
𝑑 = 𝜃𝑆2 . (27) A
30
y-axis (m)

B
As the azimuth angle keeps constant during the drilling 60
process, the offset phase of the offset point always keeps C
90
constant at 270∘ . And hence the eccentric displacement vector D
120
for each point can be calculated. E
According to the kinematic solution presented in 150
F
Section 2.2 and the procedures and program architectures 180
for the motion simulation presented in Section 4.1, the 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
input parameters for simulation can be calculated. In the x-axis (m)
2D well trajectory motion simulation, suppose that there Actual well trajectory Target position
are six target points. The input parameters for the motion Ideal well trajectory Error curve (10 ∗ error)
simulation are shown in Table 2.
In Table 2, the minus represents that the rotation direc- Figure 11: The actual and the ideal well trajectories of 2D well
tion is opposite to the initially defined. Import these param- trajectory motion simulation.
eters into LabVIEW, set control parameters, and run the
simulation. When the simulation starts, the 3D model in
SolidWorks will move under the control of LabVIEW. From Figure 10 shows the adjustment process of the eccentric
front panel, the curve of offset amplitude of the offset point displacement of the offset point on the drilling mandrel dur-
on the drilling mandrel can be achieved. Then, the actual ing drilling the 2D well trajectory. The eccentric displacement
drilling well trajectory can be drawn based on the principle is adjusted by the new steering mechanism at each target
of “Modified Three Point Geometry Method.” The curve of point and then it will keep the constant until reaching next
the offset amplitude is shown in Figure 10. The actual drilling adjacent target point. In Figure 10, the simulation curve of the
well trajectory, the ideal well trajectory, and the curve of 10∗ offset amplitude shows that the results acquired by simulation
error (error multiplied by 10 to be shown clearly) are shown are the same as those acquired by mathematical calculation
in Figure 11. listed in Table 2. As presented in Figure 11, the actual well

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10 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Table 3: Parameters for 3D well trajectory motion simulation.

A B C D E F
𝑋 (m) 0 10 50 200 250 250
𝑌 (m) 0 0 10 60 90 90
𝑍 (m) 1000 1150 1350 1600 1800 2300
𝐿 (m) 1000 1200 1500 1800 2000 2300
𝜅 (∘ ) 0 15 30 20 0 0
𝜑 (∘ ) 0 0 20 20 20 20
𝑑 (mm) 2.273 1.682 1.516 3.032 0 Null
𝜓 (∘ ) 270 226.06 270 270 270 Null
𝛼 (∘ ) −77.491 194.923 −199.132 8.486 73.214 Null
𝛿 (∘ ) 110.258 102.131 −105.918 7.637 −114.108 Null
𝜆 1 (∘ ) −224.054 −207.534 215.234 −15.518 231.877 Null
𝜆 2 (∘ ) 173.215 −435.710 445.118 −18.868 −163.655 Null

trajectory passes through each target point and it approaches where 𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1) is the whole angle of the circular arc between the
the ideal well trajectory nearly, especially the parts after point target points 𝑖 and 𝑖+1; 𝜅𝑖 and 𝜅(𝑖+1) are the inclination angles;
A. The error curve shows that the error between the actual 𝜑𝑖 and 𝜑(𝑖+1) are the azimuth angles; 𝐿 𝑖 and 𝐿 (𝑖+1) are the well
well trajectory and the ideal well trajectory from point A to depth.
point B are more obvious and larger than those of other parts. Further, the tool face angle (𝜔𝑖 ) of the new steering
The maximum of the error appears at the position of 𝑥 = 2, mechanism at each target point can be obtained:
where the value of error is 𝑑max = 47.5/10 = 4.75 m. The
explanation for the error from point A to point B is that the (𝐿 (𝑖+1) − 𝐿 𝑖 )
rotation angles of the two motors from the initial state are 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1) = ,
𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1)
much larger than those of other parts. And the adjustment
process for this part takes more time. For RSS drilling a cos 𝜅𝑖 sin 𝜅(𝑖+1) cos (𝜑(𝑖+1) − 𝜑𝑖 ) − sin 𝜅𝑖 cos 𝜅(𝑖+1)
2D well trajectory, the error in this simulation is within the cos 𝜔𝑖 = ,
sin 𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1)
accepted range (𝑑 ≤ 10 m) [29]. And hence the new steering
mechanism can satisfy the directional steering need for 2D sin 𝜅𝑖 sin (𝜑(𝑖+1) − 𝜑𝑖 )
well trajectory. sin 𝜔𝑖 = ,
sin 𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1)

4.3. Motion Simulation for 3D Well Trajectory. 3D well tra- arccos (cos 𝜔𝑖 ) , (sin 𝜔𝑖 ≥ 0) ,
jectory is a curve in space, which means that the inclination 𝜔𝑖 = {
2𝜋 − arccos (cos 𝜔𝑖 ) , (sin 𝜔𝑖 < 0) ,
angle and azimuth angle are both changing continuously. (29)
For 3D well trajectory, the coordinate values, inclination
angles, well depths, and azimuth angles of the target points where 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1) is the radius of the circular arc.
are already known. Based on these known parameters, input Further, input parameters for the 3D well trajectory
parameters for the 3D well trajectory simulation can be simulation will be obtained according to the kinematic
calculated refering to the principle of “Limiting Curvature solution presented in Section 2.2 and the procedures and
Method.” According to the principle of “Limiting Curvature program architectures for the motion simulation presented in
Method,” the well trajectory between two adjacent target Section 4.1. The known parameters (𝑋, 𝑌, 𝑍, 𝐿, 𝜅, 𝜑) and the
points is a circular arc and the circular arc is on an incline input parameters (𝑑, 𝜔, 𝛼, 𝛽, 𝜆 1 , 𝜆 2 ) are listed in Table 3.
plane [30]. The process for the input parameters calculation According to the principle of “Limiting Curvature
is shown as follows. Method,” another medium target point (𝑗) between the target
Firstly, the deflection rate (𝑘𝑖(𝑖+1) ) of the new steering points 𝑖 and 𝑖 + 1 is needed to define the circular arc of the
mechanism between two adjacent target points 𝑖 and 𝑖 + 1 can actual well trajectory on the incline plane. The coordinate
be calculated: values of 𝑗 can be calculated as
𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1) 𝐿𝑗 − 𝐿𝑖
𝜄= ,
= arccos [ cos 𝜅𝑖 cos 𝜅(𝑖+1) 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1)

+ sin 𝜅𝑖 sin 𝜅(𝑖+1) cos (𝜑(𝑖+1) − 𝜑𝑖 )] , (28) 𝑋𝑗 = 𝑋𝑖 + 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1)

30𝛾𝑖(𝑖+1) × [sin 𝜅𝑖 cos 𝜑𝑖 sin 𝜄 +(cos 𝜅𝑖 cos 𝜑𝑖 cos 𝜔𝑖 − sin 𝜑𝑖 sin 𝜔𝑖 )


𝑘𝑖(𝑖+1) = ,
(𝐿 (𝑖+1) − 𝐿 𝑖 ) × (1 − cos 𝜄)] ,

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 11

𝑌𝑗 = 𝑌𝑖 + 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1) 10

Offset amplitude (mm)


× [sin 𝜅𝑖 sin 𝜑𝑖 sin 𝜄 +(cos 𝜅𝑖 sin 𝜑𝑖 cos 𝜔𝑖 + cos 𝜑𝑖 sin 𝜔𝑖 ) 8

× (1 − cos 𝜄)] , 6
dDE
4 dAB
𝑍𝑗 = 𝑍𝑖 + 𝑅𝑖(𝑖+1) dBC dCD
2
× [cos 𝜅𝑖 sin 𝜄 − sin 𝜅𝑖 cos 𝜔𝑖 (1 − cos 𝜄)] , dEF
0
(30) 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3
Time (ms) ×104
where 𝜄 is a medium variable. (a)
In 3D well trajectory simulation, the number of the target 300
points is specified as six. 𝜓AB 𝜓CF
Import these parameters into LabVIEW, and run the

Offset phase (∘ )
simulation. From front panel, the offset amplitude and phase 250 𝜓BC
of the offset point can be obtained. According to data
acquired by simulation, actual drilling well trajectory can
be deduced based on the principle of “Limiting Curvature 200
Method.” The offset amplitude and offset phase are shown
in Figure 12. The actual drilling well trajectory is shown in
Figure 13. 150
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3
Figure 12 shows the adjustment process of the eccentric
Time (ms) ×104
displacement vector (expressed by the offset amplitude and
the offset phase) of the offset point on the drilling mandrel (b)
during drilling the 3D well trajectory. The eccentric dis-
Figure 12: The offset amplitude and offset phase of the drilling
placement vector is adjusted by the new steering mechanism mandrel in the simulation.
at each target point and then it will keep the constant
until reaching the next adjacent target point. In Figure 12,
the simulation curves show that the offset amplitudes and
the offset phases acquired by the simulation between two
adjacent target points are the same as those acquired by
mathematical calculation listed in Table 3. As presented in 0 A
Figure 12, the adjustment processes of the offset amplitude B
500 C
and the offset phase are performed simultaneously to ensure
z-axis (m)

that they can reach the needed values at the same time. And 1000
hence the adjustment process is more complicated and takes 1500
more time as shown in Figure 12.
2000 D
As presented in Figure 13, the actual well trajectory passes
through the six specified target points in the space. And 2500
0 E 0
the actual drilling well trajectory consists of six portions. 20 50
The first portion (before point A) is a vertical line and the 40 F 100
60 150
steering mechanism will not offset the drilling mandrel. The y-axis (m) 200
80 250
100 300 x-axis (m)
second portion (from point A to point B) is a circular arc
on the vertical plane, meaning that the inclination angles are Figure 13: The actual drilling trajectory of the 3D well trajectory
increasing while the azimuth angles keep constant. When motion simulation.
drilling this portion, the state of the steering mechanism is
similar to drilling a 2D well trajectory. The third portion
(from point B to point C) is a circular arc on an incline
plane, meaning the inclination angles and azimuth angles 5. Prototype Experiments
both increasing continually. The fourth portion (from point
C to point D) and fifth portion (from point D to point E) To verify the steering performance of the new mechanism, a
are similar in that the inclination angles are decreasing and prototype was built as shown in Figure 14.
the azimuth angles keep constant. Both the two portions are Steering control experiments were then conducted using
circular arcs on a vertical plane. The last portion (from point E the prototype. In the experiments, the eccentric displacement
to point F) is a vertical line that is the same as the first portion. vector of the offset point on the drilling mandrel is expressed
The 3D well trajectory motion simulation shows that the new by the 𝑋 and 𝑌 coordinates of the offset point. The control
steering mechanism can satisfy the drilling need for drilling system is constructed according to Figure 5. An NI PCI-7354
complicated 3D well trajectories. card acts as the motion control module. Two displacement

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12 Advances in Mechanical Engineering

Displacement
DC sensor
DC servomotor
servomotor
driver y-axis

x-axis

NI-6356 NI-7354 motion


DAQ module controller

Figure 14: The steering control experiment for the prototype of the new steering mechanism.

12 4
10
8 2
Y coordinate (mm)
X coordinate (mm)

6 0
4
2 −2
0 −4
−2
−6
−4
−6 −8
−8
−10
0 60 120 180 240 300 360 420 480 540 600 660 720 780
0 60 120 180 240 300 360 420 480 540 600 660 720 780
Time (s)
Time (s)
Result of the steering motion simulation
Result of the steering motion simulation
Result of the prototype steering experiment
Result of the prototype steering experiment
Figure 16: The 𝑌 coordinates of the offset point for the prototype
Figure 15: The 𝑋 coordinates of the offset point for the prototype
experiment and simulation.
experiment and simulation.

to the vibration of the rotating drilling mandrel. The experi-


sensors are used to monitor separately the offset displace- ments verify the correctness of the steering principle analysis,
ments of the drilling mandrel along 𝑥- and 𝑦-axes. An NI theoretical calculation, and steering motion simulation.
USB-6356 DAQ module is used to acquire the data of the two
displacement sensors and transfer the data to the industrial 6. Conclusion
control computer.
In the steering control experiment, the rotation angles of In this study, a new steering mechanism based on a set
the two DC servomotors are the input parameters, and 13 of hollow universal joints and a set of specific planetary
pairs of input data are chosen as shown in Table 4. gear small tooth number differences (PGSTD) for the point-
The 𝑋 and 𝑌 coordinates of the offset point on the drilling the-bit rotary steerable system (RSS) is proposed. The new
mandrel for the prototype experiment and the computer steering mechanism has a compact structure and is easy
simulation are, respectively, shown in Figures 15 and 16. to operate. It modifies several previous ideas of achieving
As presented in Figures 15 and 16, the experiment results directional steering and may better meet the demands in
match the simulation results well. However, there are notable rotary steerable drilling. The principle of the new steering
deviations for several positions, for example, at the time mechanism was presented. The structural design and control
of 630 s. Such deviations may be attributed to a number system design of the mechanism were described in detail. To
of factors, for example, sensor accuracy, part dimension analyze its steering performances, the eccentric displacement
tolerances, and gravity force. Further calibration experiments vector of the drilling mandrel was analyzed and formulated.
may help improve the accuracy. Note that the fluctuation of Motion simulations for 2D and 3D well trajectories were
the 𝑋 and 𝑌 coordinates in the prototype experiment is due conducted to verify the working principle and the accuracy of

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Advances in Mechanical Engineering 13

Table 4: Input parameters for the steering control experiment.

𝑡 = 0s 60 s 120 s 180 s 240 s 300 s 360 s 420 s 480 s 540 s 600 s 660 s 720 s

𝜆1 ( ) 0 0 15 0 30 0 45 0 90 0 180 0 360
𝜆 2 (∘ ) 0 15 0 30 0 45 0 90 0 180 0 360 0

the kinematic solutions using LabVIEW and SolidWorks. The Conflict of Interests
simulations showed that the new steering mechanism could
achieve directional drilling and satisfy the drilling needs for The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests
complicated well trajectories. Steering control experiments regarding the publication of this paper.
for a prototype of the new steering mechanism verify the
correctness of the theoretical calculation and steering motion Acknowledgment
simulation. However, due to the limitations of time and con-
ditions, the prototype experiments are still limited to run in This work was sponsored by the Key Technologies R&D
the laboratory. Real drilling experiments under actual drilling Program of Tianjin under Grant no. 11ZCKFGX03500.
conditions will be beneficial to evaluate the effectiveness of
the new mechanism. Moreover, the dynamic performance of References
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