A large, independent international land and shallow water geophysical exploration service, Geokinetics is a top solutions-provider for global oil and gas and mining companies. It also processes and interprets seismic data and owns a comprehensive data library.

Geokinetics’ presence spans the globe with offices in 29 major countries employing more than 60 nationalities. “Our geographic reach encompasses a wide variety of challenging environments,” the company says. “From the arid deserts of the Middle East and the jungles of South America, to the environmentally sensitive Alaskan foothills and the heli-portable mountain front of the Andes, Geokinetics has proven experience in all terrain.”

Geokinetics is an industry leader with a capacity of more than 30 acquisition crews, 200,000 channels, five data processing centers around the world and 10,500 square miles of multi-client data. Its clients include independent, international and national oil companies.

Supply Chain Success

The company’s supply chain team is in the midst of a major upgrade, says Elm Valle, director of global supply chain.

“We are focusing on revamping everything including reengineering procurement and even asset management,” Valle says. “We are focused on developing a world-class procurement and supply chain organization.”

Valle started in 2013 with a mandate from CEO David Crowley to develop a more mature supply chain. At that time, “it was almost like supply chain was thought of as a necessary evil,” he says, but not as a strategic opportunity. In the past year, the supply chain team has moved from the backburner to leading initiatives for the company.

Valle partnered with the University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business right off the bat. Working with its business school professors, graduate students and interns “brought a fresh and energetic perspective,” he says. Geokinetics then teamed business school graduates with more-experienced procurement professionals. This created a mix of “innovators and experience,” Valle says.

“We invested a lot in training and lessons learned from conferences and established knowledge base,” he explains. “We’ve focused on understanding what procurement does and what the best practices are out there to be aligned with the business needs. We are always looking at how best to serve our operations group. That is our internal customer. We align with the CEO and operations groups’ needs as much as possible while maintaining compliance, policy and process optimizations.”

Challenges Overcome

Like with many companies, Geokinetics’ supply chain is susceptible to market conditions, political factors and regulatory changes. “I think for the most part our supply chain is agile enough to handle those uncontrollable variables,” Valle reflects. “One of our biggest challenges was providing our leadership with strong and valid metrics and key performance indicators. Like many companies, Geokinetics did not use our ERP to its fullest potential.”

In early 2014, Geokinetics’ staff worked diligently to correct its master data files to ensure accurate dashboard reports and metrics. “Subsequently, we started to develop our key performance metrics that will drive the speed, agility and cost savings for the company,” Valle explains. “More importantly, we had to change behaviors within the company. Metrics and [key performance indicators] are great only if you have follow-up actions to them, otherwise they are just numbers on paper. For the past year, we accomplished a significant amount of work on understanding our drivers and how to mitigate the outliers.”

The supply chain team creates strong relationships with vendors with which it works hand-in-hand to jointly meet goals and objectives. “We partner with suppliers,” Valle says. “By brainstorming together and presenting challenges we can come up with new innovation together.”

This prevents typical buyer/supplier relationship dynamics that can descend into squeezing out low costs rather than finding creative win/win options for both parties. Because Geokinetics’ mapping missions are often conducted in remote regions off the grid, its supplier strategy is all the more key.

For example, Geokinetics teamed with Mermaid Marine in the Far East to better understand vessels such as marine vessels used in Ocean Bottom Cable acquisitions.

“They are the experts on vessels so by sharing our objectives and risks, they are able to help us better deploy those assets,” Valle says. It has done the same in its partnership with FairfieldNodal to launch a major wireless technology upgrade. Additionally, Geokinetics leveraged the flexibility of Dan Bunkering, an offshore fuels supplier, to provide one stop shopping for marine operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Geokinetics encourages suppliers to maintain the principles that it believes in:

    +Unwavering business integrity and ethics;
    +Health, safety and environmental compliance;
    +Social responsibilities; and
    +Working in tandem with international labor and human rights laws.

Another challenge is organizational. Geokinetics recently acquired the North American land business of CGG, based in Paris, France. This consolidation of the land seismic acquisition market elevates Geokinetics to the No. 1 position in marketed crews in North America.

“We are challenged in integrating the people, process and technology into one company,” Valle says. “Our CEO has made it clear that we will leverage strong talent and look at the best practices from both companies. This was not merely an acquisition but a true integration. What we are coming up with is a hybrid result; this, in turn, forces our supply chain team to learn new things and we had to be extremely flexible and adaptable. We are meeting this challenge with great enthusiasm.”