Subsea Industry Expresses Concerns Over Integrity of Fastener Supply Chain (UK)
There have been some very interesting developments in the Oil and Gas Industry in recent months not least the demand to improve the quality, integrity and compliance of nut supplies.
Beck Prosper Ltd (BPL) has been serving the petrochemical and energy industries as a high integrity bolting manufacturer for over forty years but has previously never had the need to manufacture its own nuts by the forging process.
BPL has always machined nuts in-house where higher quality is required and purchased commercially produced forged nuts for most petrochemical and general fastener requirements since this is a significantly more cost effective method for volume manufacture. Product selection by the clients has usually been dictated by commercial constraints.
BPL historically enjoyed close relations with many European suppliers who manufactured high quality forged nuts to ASTM standards however most of these sources have subsequently either closed or become distributors for Far Eastern products due to the commercial demands of the industry.
BPL decided in 2001 that it should deal directly with these Far Eastern sources and subsequently set up testing facilities in China to test products throughout manufacture and prior to despatch. BPL developed close relationships with carefully selected manufacturers who were willing to work to our stringent testing regime and with sources capable of producing quality products for our downstream markets, such as ASTM A194 2H, so that our supply chain for these items is not compromised. Around two years ago the Subsea sector started to ask for a higher integrity fastener with more demanding properties and an improved process control.
BPL has been very closely involved with the development of the Global Subsea sector which has increased the focus on product integrity post Deepwater Horizon and other well documented issues. BPL has relished this challenge and our Global Technical Manager currently sits on the ASTM Bolting Committee and AWHEM North Sea Committee which keeps us at the forefront of current trends in industry requirements and allows us to anticipate the changing needs of what is becoming an increasingly demanding industry. Requirements are increasing in documentation, testing, inspection and metallography and this is expected to further increase as more severe environments are exploited and legislation intensifies.
On the surface bolting appears to be a relatively straightforward product but given the multitude of exacting demands it can get increasingly complicated and BPL is rightly and widely regarded in the industry as a safe pair of hands.
So what are we doing to address these new challenges and maintain integrity?
We have found that most of our current sources can produce nuts acceptable to the ASTM standards but there are some concerns with achieving the heightened specification demanded by Subsea clients.
BPL has developed a manufacturing route to satisfy these demands by utilising a company within the Beck Industries Group situated in France called Cousin et Malicet, a European manufacturer of hot forged nuts and one of the last still producing such items. They have developed a range of hot forged nuts which address the above issues by working to a specification and testing regime far greater than the current ASTM standard. These nuts are able to satisfy the design requirements of major end users and specifiers such as Petrobras and StatOil as well as Christmas Tree and Wellhead equipment suppliers.
To cope with the increase in the quality demands BPL have doubled the size of the Inspection Department and can offer Positive Material Inspection, Magnetic Particle Inspection and 100% Visual and Dimensional Inspection. We have installed a Metallography Laboratory and recruited a 4th Metallurgist into the company. All this represents a major investment to guarantee the supply and integrity of an item as simple as a nut.
Source: prosper-engineering ,February 11, 2011; Image: offshore