The value of investing in high quality Bolted Joint Integrity

hi force

Since the invention of the bolt and nut around 400BC we have used them to join various components together, in a wide variety of applications. Over the centuries the technology and how it relates to bolted joint integrity has improved significantly. Bolted joint technology is used in pipelines, pressure vessels and heat exchangers where hydrocarbons and combustible fluids and gases are processed and moved around. Bolted joints in such applications are usually of a flange design utilising a number of bolts in a circular pattern, in conjunction with a sealing material (gasket), to provide a clamping force to hold two flanges together, maintaining a leak free condition.

Typically an average size Oil, Gas or Petrochemical facility will contain in the region of 30,000 to 50,000 bolted joints, all of which have the potential to leak and create a risk to the plant, the environment and potential loss of life. Some leaks could and do result in a minor, low risk incident, but others could lead to a catastrophic loss of life and assets, as well as major damage to the environment, within the local proximity of the plant. This can also easily escalate to the wider area, dependant on the location of the plant, with the inevitable damage to the reputation of all involved. It is surely agreed that any loss of life and asset is both regretted and avoidable and history has shown us that major catastrophes can and do happen and the costs can run to millions and sometimes billions of dollars!

So how can the whole process around “Bolted Joint Integrity” be improved and implemented, to help reduce the risks and costs related to loss of life, assets, environmental issues and project completion delay penalties? Well firstly all parties involved need to change their mind-set and buy into the benefits of implementing the necessary policies and procedures, required to deliver a comprehensive joint integrity programme.This is particularly applicable to new-builds but can also deliver significant time and cost savings during shutdown maintenance, provided everything is planned in advance. A mind-set of “First Time Right” is key to the success of the implementation of the entire bolted joint integrity programme. Rework costs will always be multiples of the original assembly costs, so surely a significant reduction in rework is something everyone involved is keen to achieve?

As a major, UK headquartered manufacturer, Hi-Force, with overseas regional offices in Holland, Italy, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia and South Africa, has over thirty years’ experience in the design, manufacture, operation and use of manual, pneumatic and hydraulic bolting tools.

hi force hydraulic tools

Hi-Force UK operates from a “state of the art” manufacturing facility, located in Daventry, England, that houses everything from product design, through to manufacture, assembly, testing and certification, of an extensive range of high pressure hydraulic and bolting tools. Hi-Force also offers full after sales and service support, through all of its strategically placed regional offices and authorised distributors. For many years Hi-Force has also offered clients short and long term tool rental and in 2016, this service was formally extended, to offering complete on-site Bolted Joint Integrity management, during plant construction and maintenance shutdown activities.

The Hi-Force On-Site Bolting Services Division, managed from the Hi-Force UK Head Office, can now offer clients
pre-start on-site surveys, full and comprehensive analysis of bolted joint needs, development of correct procedures,
including all required bolted joint load calculations, on-site bolted joint integrity training courses, for the nominated contractors technicians, using ECITB qualified and trained Supervisors, full flange management control, utilising the Hi-Force BOLTRIGHT PRO software and of course high quality UK manufactured bolting tools. As part of the Hi Force On-Site Bolting Services offering, we are able to mobilise to site bespoke twenty foot containers, fully equipped, as either a bolting tool store, or a mobile on-site training facility, incorporating all the necessary training equipment, to deliver bolting training courses, to the highest possible standard.

Group Managing Director of Hi-Force, Kevin Brown, is directly heading up this new division, within the Hi-Force Group and enthusiastically claims: “Hi-Force is always looking to expand its offering to clients worldwide and this new venture has already delivered significant results in recent months. We currently have four containers mobilised, two each to two different plant construction sites and our clients are already seeing the benefit of employing a specialist Bolting Services Company, to manage all of their joint integrity needs at site. A further two bespoke containers have also recently been ordered. The issue of purchasing capital intensive bolting tools, is no longer a requirement for the site, because we are offering competitively priced tool rental, throughout the project, along with our own on-site tool service repair facilities with readily available spare parts, to ensure bolting work is continuously carried out. Our on-site Supervisors have all the necessary skills to supervise the bolting work, carry out bolting work when necessary, conduct training courses at site and of course carry out any required tool service and repair work.”