18 May, 2022

Branch builds giant power pack for earthquake simulator (June 2012)

11 June, 2012

Branch Hydraulic Systems, a Group HES company, has partnered with servohydraulic test and motion simulation specialist, Servotest Testing Systems, to develop a 2MW power pack, the largest system to be manufactured by the bespoke engineering solutions provider to date.

The power pack has been designed to drive a large earthquake simulator developed and manufactured by Servotest for use by the Indian Nuclear Research facility, sourced byIndia-based, Zetatek Industries. Over the past decade, Servotest has worked closely with the Branch Hydraulic Systems’ bespoke sales and project team, evolving design concepts into manufactured power units. This recent project is believed to be one of the biggest hydraulic power packs to be built in the UK over the past 12 months.  
As part of the evaluation process, the appointed supplier had to deliver within a strict timeframe and be flexible with the hardware. “It was important that parts could be decided upon and ordered even before the design was finalised to ensure that the deadline was met,” said Servotest’s Roger Fry. “This kind of flexibility is hard to find, especially with larger suppliers. Our experience with Branch Hydraulic Systems made for an open and straight-forward project; they gave us the reliability and reassurance we needed to meet the customer’s requirements on-schedule.”
Efficient delivery
Consulting with Servotest, Branch Hydraulic Systems took the decision to design the power unit around readily available world-class products. This ensured that, technically, the unit met the requirements but was also delivered efficiently; with the Branch team not having to rely on problematic manufacturer delivery schedules.
Branch had to also consider two critical requirements, modularity and the limitations of available space, both in transit and at the end user facility. The physical size and footprint was therefore an important criteria, as the simulator required a 2MW power pack, with a flow rate of 3000L/min to undertake the necessary tests on samples up to 100 tonnes, and a maximum, short-term requirement of 10,000L/min, using associated banks of accumulators.
“With the modules being shipped in ISO containers we had to allow for size limitations. An open air container is costly and also risks component corrosion damage whilst at sea, so with the tank assembly module being the largest, measuring 2 x 2 x 3.5m, we had to ensure that it fit through the doors of the container vessel,” commented Alex Tatlow, Branch Hydraulic Systems’ technical director.
Branch designed and built 14 individual modules plus pipework, comprising of nine main modules, one boost pump module, 3 cooling sets and one 10,000 litre tank assembly module. These were constructed and tested at the Group HES headquarters in Gloucester, before shipping and the final assembly in India.
Group HES managing director, Stuart Diesel said: “This is a first for Branch Hydraulic Systems, both in size and application. We are known for our ability to deliver bespoke solutions and, as engineers, we relish new technical challenges. This specification gave us the perfect opportunity to really cut our teeth and prove our capability, taking everyday component parts and customising them to build one power pack.”
What is an earthquake simulator?
The simulator systems are designed to accurately reproduce actual seismic conditions. They test the survival abilities of high value, mission critical equipment in earthquake conditions; including bridges, transformers, high voltage switching & communication equipment, and in this case nuclear reactor vessels.
Used by power and communication companies, and research institutes, the test items are installed on the table to evaluate their survivability, with the table size, forces and number of actuators being tailored to suit the application & specification.
Photo caption: Servotest cooling component.

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