22 May, 2022

Eaton: solutions for maximising safety, reliability and performance (Nov 2011)

22 November, 2011


 In the offshore oil and gas sector, where a breakdown or an accident can have huge financial implications, there is an understandably strong emphasis on maximising safety, reliability and performance in every aspect of operations. These three crucial factors are, however, by no means independent of each other. In particular, it is impossible to maximise plant safety and performance without addressing reliability.
Reliability is, however, influenced by many factors, ranging from the inherent reliability of individual components to the overall complexity of a plant, its operating conditions and the effectiveness of its maintenance regime. Eaton maintains that it is, therefore, essential when specifying and acquiring new plant to adopt a proactive approach to ensuring reliability from the outset.
Aware of the pressing need for reliability in offshore oil and gas applications and of the influence of reliability on safety and efficiency, Eaton Hydraulics Group has developed novel technologies that provide dependable and cost-effective solutions for two of the most common causes of unplanned maintenance events in the petrochemical sector – piston rod corrosion in hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic hose failure.
Eatonite Laser Clad
Piston rod corrosion and abrasion wear are persistent problems that have been a major source of unreliability for decades, particularly in offshore drilling operations. Now, however, the proprietary Eatonite Laser Clad coating technology has been confirmed and certified by independent test services company DNV as offering effective protection for the piston rods of hydraulic cylinders operating in even the harshest conditions.
The tests carried out by the DNV confirmed that, after processing, not only is the Eatonite coating twice as hard as Inconel 625, a well-known corrosion resistant alloy (CRA), but also that it has excellent coating homogeneity, thanks to Eaton’s laser deposition technology. As a result, Eatonite-clad piston rods deliver mechanical performance equal to that of traditional SAE4130 rods, combined with the corrosion resistance equal to that of the best CRA materials.
The DNV has certified Eatonite-clad rods as meeting the requirements laid down in the ‘Guideline for qualification of wear and corrosion protection surface materials for piston rods’ developed as part of a Joint Industry Project. Eaton is the first company to deliver products that meet these requirements.
Neal Benedict, global director oil & gas, Hydraulics Group, Eaton Corporation, commented: “Reliability is critical in the upstream environment. Rig platforms are rented out on day rates, and if you have a day or two of downtime you can walk into the multi-million dollar category. It can take six to eight years to bring a field into production, so schedules are aggressively mapped out. And if you start to see downtime in those schedules obviously the oil company is going to take longer and longer to recoup its investment. So reliability is critical to ensure that companies are meeting their offshore obligations.
“With the corrosive nature of salt water in mind we’ve developed Eatonite, which is a laser-clad coating made up of a proprietary mix of chemicals. It has a good mix of ductility, so it’s actually fairly flexible as a coating. One of the problems with ceramic coatings is that although they’re hard they’re subject to the forces of the metal and so can crack more easily. And once you have a crack then corrosion becomes a problem. With Eatonite we have been able to bend the metal 180 degrees and still see no cracks.”
LifeSense hose
Another major source of downtime in oil and gas operations is failure of hydraulic hoses and, in addition to lost production and revenue, such events create serious safety hazards. With Eaton’s LifeSense hose, however, it is now possible to continuously monitor the health of every hose in a hydraulic system and to alert the user when one or more of those hoses is approaching the end of its useful and safe working life.
In the past, it has been standard practice in the petrochemical sector to minimise the risk of hose failure by replacing hoses on a fixed schedule. As a result, large numbers of costly hydraulic hose assemblies are replaced long before they have reached the ends of their lives. With LifeSense hose, which was jointly developed by Eaton and Purdue University, assemblies can safely remain in service for far longer. In fact, tests have shown that up to 50 per cent more service life can be expected from LifeSense hoses, with complete peace of mind for users.
Eatonite piston rod cladding and LifeSense hoses from Eaton provide genuine improvements in reliability, safety and efficiency that are particularly relevant to users in the demanding oil and gas sector. These are, however, only two of the wide range of groundbreaking technologies that Eaton can offer users in this vital and demanding sector, and the company’s experts are always happy to discuss off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions for specific challenges.
Benedict commented: “LifeSense is not only a new technology, but it’s also progressing – not only with regard to the hoses we offer today but also to the hoses we’re going to offer in the future. It’s moving from a wire technology to a wireless technology, which we see as being very important. And it is important to us that LifeSense is able to be easily integrated to the user’s existing monitoring platform, without the need to implement a new monitoring system.”

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