Category : Case Studies

Emergency Shut Down Valve Specialist

This case study deals with a leading North American energy company, operating one of the most technological advanced and highly automated pipeline systems in the world.

Reliability of their automated pipeline systems is a main concern for them and, if they do not function properly, it is essential to have someone on site to perform corrective action. In the case of one remote, unmanned, station, this automated operation is critical for maintaining pipeline pressures and accurate measurements of flow.

To ensure their processes are running properly and safe, the company contracted VRC Protx LLC to inspect and repair possible issues that could affect the Meter Station’s operation; specifically examining the older Shafer actuators on the 10”, class 600, Grove valves.

What can be an issue with these older actuators is the condition of the seal used to actuate a Shafer. Occasionally, oil can transfer from one tank to the opposite one if the power gas is not shut off at the end of travel, causing an imbalance in fluids, resulting in the oil being discharged through the exhaust control box. A telltale sign of this imbalance would be oil discharged on the ground near the actuated valve. Another cause for oil discharge is a bad exhaust poppet, which allows the actuator to vent during a power gas stroke. Not only would these issues be an indication that the actuator is functioning improperly but it also becomes an environmental concern. In the case of this station, a number of the control blocks on these Shafer actuators were in need of repair.

VRC Protx’s first approach was to test all the actuators for seal by-pass and hand pumps in need of repair in order to provide an evaluation report. After the initial evaluation the company decided, because of the age and usage of the actuators, that a complete rebuild and replacement of the old limit switches and solenoids, on all (9) actuators, was in order.

The entire project went smoothly despite the cold 20°F climate of Northern Michigan in late November. Using a four man crew VRC Protx was able to accomplish this project in one week by pulling two actuators at a time, doing the complete rebuild and repair, before going to the next set of two. With this approach, they were able to do all the work without any effect on the automated pipeline system.

VRC Protx was able to repair all of the adversely effected actuators, replace ones that were irreparable with the company’s spares and perform additional service on other detected issues; such as repairing stem seal leakage on two of the Grove valves.

A Sr. Measurement Specialist at the company stated, “The VRC Protx crew was very professional and we were fortunate to have them on this job. We are very satisfied with all the work done. They even completed wiring modifications and system testing that was not on the original quote… again, we are very pleased with their professionalism and performance.”

VRC Protx has Veriforce certified technicians. OEM parts were used for the actuator rebuilds and the replacement electrical components all met or exceeded area classifications. The VRC Protx service team has an industry leading safety record and is comprised of individuals including Engineers, Quality Control Foremen and Technicians who provide on-site and shop services for both planned and emergency requirements.

VRC Protx Assisting With Inventory, Maintenance and Expenditures

In 2004, a global pharmaceutical company engaged VRC Protx to conduct a field survey of existing devices to help standardize and consolidate devices in the field, combine existing inventories, institute site standards, and establish a PM program that could be overseen by a site expert.

“At issue were both safety and economic impact,” stated the VRC Protx associate. “Individuals were ordering product without knowledge of what was already in inventory. Some products in inventory were of an old, obsolete design. Now, our VRC Protx Process Safety Engineer works directly with site personnel to develop site standards which greatly simplifies the ordering process, controlling runaway inventories.

“In addition to controlling inventories, safety has to be a priority. Untested PSV’s can pose a considerable risk because, over time, their faces may become “glued” together. The pressure now required to release the valve can exceed the ASME safety factor of the vessel. As a “VR” certified company, VRC Protx inspects, tests and if need be rebuilds valves to OEM standards. In some cases, devices were not being properly sized and evaluated. VRC Protx involvement ensures that the devices are adequately sized and applied per ASME code.”

Over the past years of monitoring and maintenance, VRC Protx has been able to help this company realize significant savings in three specific areas: Inventory, Maintenance and Expenditures.

By phasing out dated product and consolidating inventory, VRC Protx assisted in the reduction of their overall relief devices inventory by $90k.

Having oversight of the relief valves and instituting the PSV – PM program, tracking valve history, VRC Protx has been able to prohibit the spending of $375k in unnecessary maintenance costs. This has been primarily accomplished through extending PM intervals.

The combination of the site expert working with A&E firms and a dedicated VRC Protx engineer has helped reduce total rupture disc expenditures by 75%.

The company’s site manager stated, “VRC Protx has been instrumental in helping us rein in our expenditures. Over the years they have been on site, their responsibilities have morphed in many directions and through their capabilities and professionalism; they have proved to be an invaluable partner.”