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Hydraproducts not only supplies mobile power packs to land based businesses, but we are involved in supply to the offshore mining and exploration industries.
It’s for this reason that we annually monitor the outcomes of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC); to keep abreast of new developments, concepts and knowledge in the arena of offshore operations and the environment.
Established in 1969, the conference is hosted in Houston, USA each year and sponsored by companies in the offshore industry such as Chevron and SBM Engineering. It’s a place where ideas and opinions on offshore resources and environmental matters are exchanged, cogitated and discussed.
If you’re in the offshore industry and you’re not aware of the conference, you might want to look at attending or at least receiving information on the outcomes.
Here’s what you need to know about the OTC annual conference:
· Participants can see the latest and most advanced offshore equipment
· Attendees can mix and mingle with the leading product and service providers over 4 days. Keep in mind that Houston is the world’s energy capital and it attracts offshore professional from over 120 different countries – great for networking
· The most knowledgeable professionals set up and implement a high quality technical program
· The conference takes place at the same time each year, the first full week of May
· As an aside, who knew that Houston airport has an incredible 700 daily departures!
Professionals at the conference don’t just apply their energies to looking at how they can perform better in their industry; they also discuss issues that are beneficial to all, such as the very worrying human rights issue of human trafficking. There is also a New Technology Aware and an OTC Distinguished Awards Luncheon for recipients.
Whether you decide to attend the 2017 OTC or not, there are plenty of ways that you can stay current with information about it, including:
Alternatively Sign-up for email updates
Offshore containers for Hydraulic Power Units (HPU)
Hydraulic equipment that is used and transported on and off ships is often housed within a container. Hydraulic power units are commonly required for Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Winches. This would be normally designed to meet Offshore or Maritime standards.
The offshore containers are designed for moving around supply ship decks and must withstand dynamic loads from “snatching” of installation cranes.
The portable offshore container has a maximum gross weight less than 25,000 kg for continuous transport of goods and equipment, and will be handled in open seas between fixed or floating platforms and decks. This differs from the containers used in the containerised transport of goods on a ship.
The offshore container will be designed and certified to meet the DNV Standard for Certification No 2.7-1 (April 2006) with effect from in 1989. This standard was introduced as the sea transport container standard (ISO 1496) was not intended offshore containers.
Basically the offshore container must be “tough” to support this DNV 2.7-1 focuses on strength and integrity in all stages of transport.
· shoreside (by fork lift truck)
· supply vessel
· craning on and off offshore platforms
Containers must have sufficient strength so not to suffer failure when subjected to extreme loads that may be encountered during offshore movements.
Containers designed according to DNV 2.7-2 will largely meet the design and certification needs to also satisfy CSC (Convention for Safe Container), IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code) and the ISO1496 standards.
Whilst DNV 2.7-2 focus generally on the dimensions and weights another standard that runs alongside this is the European Standard EN12079. The bulk of this standard concentrates on the safety and recording documentation. Sections of EN12079 (Offshore containers and associated lifting sets) will shape the general design:-
● An offshore container should be designed to allow loading and unloading in wave heights to 6 m
● Must have an outer framework and pad eyes at or near the top
● Protrusions to be avoided
● Designed to withstand temperature of -20℃
● Must withstand 30˚ angle without tipping
The owners or representative are responsible for recording and maintaining certification of all containers. Periodic inspection including records of substantial repair, modification must ensure traceability.
Transit crash frames give essential protection for Offshore HPU’s. Hydraproducts can offer guidance on how to comply with the standards necessary when handling marine quality hydraulic power packs.
This article looks at paint protection and how offshore hydraulic power units are specially painted to combat corrosion and other weathering conditions typically found at sea.
In order for the paint to protect the power unit against the elements, it is crucial that it goes through the correct stages of preparation and the paint contains the right chemical mix to make sure it does the job it is tasked with.
The international standard ISO12944 concerns the corrosion protection of paints and is the standard adhered to with regards to the coverage of steel built power units by protective paint systems.
Selecting the right paint
To ensure the correct paint for weather protection is used, several factors need to be taken into account, these include:
Environmental conditions – The first thing to look at when deciding on the composition of the paint is the environment where it will be used. So, looking at an oil rig for example, where anything from sea storms to salt water could affect the application, along with moisture where bacteria can manifest itself on the paint surface and eat into the paint itself.
Regular contact with UV rays and temperature fluctuations are other factors that can be taken into account when looking at operating conditions.
The type of surface that is to be painted – Although the majority of applications are built using steel, aluminium is another strong and lightweight metal so this needs to be taken into account when judging the thickness of the paint needed.
Another important area to look at is the durability of the paint finish and how long it will last before it needs its first refresh. ISO12944 covers this and includes a range of three time frames to categorise paint durability:-
· Low – L = 2 to 5 years
· Medium – M = 5 to 15 years
· High – H = More than 15 years
Surface preparation ready for painting
To ensure the paint adheres to the metal surface of the power unit and remains pliable, the correct steps should be taken when preparing for the painting process.
Surfaces can either be cleaned using an abrasive blasting process or by hand. With abrasive blasting there are several levels of cleaning from light to thorough which ensures all particles are removed leaving a perfectly smooth surface. Hand cleaning is normally carried out by a power tool and with standard or thorough cleaning options.
The paint used also has to be able to resist varying temperatures when the unit is in operation, which will help lengthen the life and quality of the paint. Depending on the type of pigments and binder used, paints can vary greatly in the way they handle excess heat. Silicates and silicones work best when dealing with temperatures over 120 degrees centigrade while also maintaining good low temperature performance. Alkyds and bitumen struggle with intense heat and cold and are best in the 0-100 degrees range. When temperatures get over 400 degrees then aluminium pigment is the only compound that will stand up to these sorts of temperatures.
So, in conclusion when looking to paint a hydraulic power unit it is imperative that the environment, operating conditions and working temperatures are factored into the equation; as well as careful monitoring of the paint finish once the unit is operational to ensure it is durable and lasts the duration.
Performance and reliability don’t have to be sacrificed in order to use green and clean hydraulic fluids.
Industrial equipment needs continuous lubrication to keep it operating reliably, efficiently and for long periods of time. The offshore industry relies on hydraulic fluids with high performance, more so because some equipment can be located over 100 miles from shore. Replacement parts and spare components can be days away, so all machinery being fully functional is integral to full operations.
Sourcing hydraulic fluids that are more compatible with the environment is something that many operators are struggling with. The current environmental climate demands that companies deliver a maximum output of oil whilst not crossing any boundaries of the increasing legislation that is environment related and adding to the complexity of oil and gas extraction in areas such as the North Sea. This is a trend that we predict to continue and spread to other parts of the oil-producing world.
Marine environments are protected by a number of international bodies and therefore offshore production is particularly challenging. Fluids that are less likely to impact delicate eco systems are catching the attention of offshore operators.
Fluids that could spill or leak into the sea need to be selected with the consideration of what effect they could have on the environment. There needs to be a balance between choosing a fluid that might be considered better for the environment, but that offers less in terms of performance results than one that provides improved performance. This is because the lesser fluid may need to be more frequently replenished and that carries a risk of spillage in itself. There could also be an associated increase in packaging, shipping, storage and of course disposal. All affecting the environment in a negative way.
Hydraulics is an area that can greatly impact the environment due to high pressures, flexible hoses and high flow rates. They can all make it possible for there to be a significant spill.
When selecting your fluid, stay sensitive to the environment and recognise what impact it could have from all angles including bioaccumulation, toxicity and biodegradation.
Watch this space for further information about what’s possible with environmentally responsible hydraulic fluids.
Our latest blog looks at renewable energy and how hydraulic power packs are used to power a range of applications in this field.
These applications include wind turbines, commercial biomass boiler systems, solar panels and many more. Below we go into detail about the most commonly used applications and how hydraulic power systems are implemented to power them:
Frequently described as the power of the future, wind power harnesses the forces of nature to create a renewable source of energy and wind turbines have been appearing more often around the countryside in recent years.
Powering large areas of population, it is essential that turbines have a reliable power source. The hydraulic power pack is situated high in the turbine body behind the rotors and its main functions are to control the braking system, the pitch adjustment of the rotors and the rotor locking mechanism.
Wind turbines also have to put up with a range of adverse environmental conditions due to their size and placement with elements such as seawater salt affecting offshore systems and high winds and storms potentially affecting the majority of turbines.
Industry standards suggest that turbines should have a successful operating life of approximately 25 years, so quality and reliability are paramount to a long operational life.
Solar power is one of the most popular types of renewable energy as is it a cost effecting method that can yield substantial savings in the long term.
It is also a simple process, as it harnesses the suns energy to generate heat and electricity and many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and implementing solar power to make savings on annual running costs.
So, where do hydraulic power packs fit into the equation?
As solar panels need to be able to track the suns position for optimal efficiency, hydraulic power packs are required to power the panel’s movements and provide a precise and reliable power source for this function. The power packs are typically situated in an enclosed control system which helps prevent damage from the elements including flooding and storm damage.
The units are commonly designed to customer bespoke specification and are tailored for easy maintenance and accessibility.
Hydropower is another essential and widely used form of renewable energy which is used widely across the globe.
Hydraulics play a big role in the running of these applications and help control vital control systems including gate operations, brake systems and shut off controls. They are used in both hydroelectric plants and in flood defence barriers where they power hydraulically actuated penstocks, which ensure correct water levels are maintained at all times.
The power pack in penstock applications is situated above ground along with any electrical systems, as to avoid possible flooding and to ensure telemetry is constantly communicated without the risk of malfunctions due to water ingress and other environmental factors.
Biomass Boiler Systems
Widely used in both commercial and industrial applications including homes, schools and industry, biomass boilers are an extremely popular renewable energy source which comes in various sizes and specifications.
The boiler itself contains a ‘Walking floor’ which is basically two metal plates which move forwards and backwards to gradually push waste material into the boiler. Wood chippings and pellets are the common type of products that you see fed through this system. The hydraulic power pack is responsible for powering the Walking Floor and ensuring it operates reliably and effectively.
Hydraulics is an engineering subset that has been around for centuries. Early automaton used water pressure and flow to effect movement, and the industrial revolution in England may never have happened without using water power to drive machinery – water mills were used to make flour and also to provide energy to early machinery. Steam was also a popular technology, and although this could be classed technically as pneumatic, it grew from the lessons learned from using water power. Nowadays electrical alternatives are widely available and if hydraulics were invented now, this style of power supply would not be as popular as it is.
Despite the age of the technology and the rise of electronic alternatives, hydraulic power still reigns in a few areas where there is no viable alternative. Underwater operations, potentially explosive environments and places where there is no electricity (or it cannot be used for environmental reasons) are three of the main applications where hydraulics is the go-to technology.
The sturdy construction of hydraulic systems, designed to withstand huge amounts of internal pressure, can also withstand pressure from the outside as well. This means that underwater deep-sea operations, such as drilling and scientific research, make use of hydraulic technology that is reliable and fully functional even under the immense pressures of the deep ocean.
Potentially explosive environments, such as those found in oil and gas plants or industries that use dangerous gases and chemicals, are not suited at all to electrical systems. The explosion risk from just one spark from an electrical system failure is great, so hydraulic systems are used to effect motion rather than those which rely on electrical input. Because it is possible to transfer energy over large distances using hydraulics, any electrical components can be housed far away from the explosive atmosphere.
Lastly, in areas where there is no electrical supply, like the polar regions and other remote places, there is no way of using electrical power as a solution or even as an input power for a system. Hydraulic systems can be used with human power by way of a hand pump, converting human power into a larger force using the principles of hydraulics. This means that machinery that might otherwise be unsuitable for use in these places, can be powered by people and this increases the rate of productivity and development in isolated communities.
Like health, the usefulness of hydraulics sometimes only becomes apparent in its absence. Pictures of agricultural workers of centuries past may look attractive on greetings cards, but in reality, it was gruelling and sometimes dangerous work. The adoption of hydraulic technology not only made agriculture physically less demanding on the workers, but also more efficient and with the growth in world population over the 20th century, the point is becoming increasingly important. While it may be too much to expect farmers to be expert engineers as well, it is useful to have at least a foundation in how hydraulic technology benefits agriculture.
Hydraulic technology was initially adopted, quite literally, to replace horses. Great, heavy horses gave way to tractors, which depended on hydraulics both internally (for braking and steering) and externally (for lifting or digging). In many cases some degree of human intervention was still required and in some cases this could be quite significant. Not only did earlier tractors need their actions (such as lifting or ploughing) to be carefully controlled by humans, but even then there was a relatively high degree of imprecision in the process, which meant either a certain level of wastage had to be accepted or humans had to undertake what was essentially clean-up work after the tractor had finished the bulk of it. As the technology developed, however, hydraulics was combined with advanced electronics, to fine-tune pressure and flow way beyond the skill of any human operator. This has resulted in such exciting developments as precision planters, which can not only deliver seed in the optimum way over a changing field, but also deliver fertilizer at the same time. This gives the seed a much better chance of growing to maturity, leading to better yields and reduced costs, which can be passed on to the consumer.
Earlier hydraulic technology had fixed pressure and flow. Depending on the situation it was sometimes possible to change the settings, but this required human intervention. Modern tractors have a vastly greater hydraulic capacity than their predecessors with significantly more remote valves. At the same time, the traditional PTO shaft (complete with chains and drive shaft) has largely given way to hydraulic pipes and hoses which are driven directly by the hydraulic motor, making for simpler operation, meaning high reliability. As mentioned, the use of electronic controls allows for great precision, reducing wastage and therefore costs. In short, the combination of hydraulics and electronics has allowed agriculture to move on from a human worker making their best judgement about what is required to a machine using vast amounts of data from sensors to decide what is required and adjusting itself accordingly.
The coupling of the power of hydraulics with the precision of electronics opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities. At a very basic level, it can simply be used to increase the efficiency with which the tractor operates, thereby reducing the amount of fuel used. At a more complex level, it could be used to increase the range and scope of the tasks tractors can perform, thereby enabling micro-agriculture, a means of farming in which sensors throughout a field provide information on the precise conditions in each part of the field, so that farmers can optimize their processes with the highest possible degree of precision.
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