KKI – still investing, still leading

The KKI manufacturing team prepare a bespoke hipped bodied surface choke valve for despatch to Russia.

With the news full of the events taking place in the Gulf of Mexico this year, even the lay person now has a good idea of the challenges facing engineers working on subsea projects. But for Koso Kent Introl, the problems and challenges of the unforgiving subsea environment are well known, and have been for many years. In fact, throughout its proud history, over 800 subsea valves have been designed and manufactured by the company. With significant future opportunities identified in development areas such as Brazil and the north western shelf of Australia, and growth expected in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, subsea valves are one of KKI’s major investment product areas in 2010.

Originally established in 1967 as Introl the company rapidly achieved growth and a reputation of innovation that it still proudly maintains to this day. Over the years, ownership of the company has changed, but its location in the heart of Yorkshire in the UK, and its dedication to quality and product development has remained a core guiding principle.

But the company’s leadership team is not happy to stand still, especially in the current climate of economic uncertainty. Denis Westcott, KKI’s Managing Director recognises that during periods of increased competition, it is only those prepared to invest and look forward that will prosper and grow. “We used the economic downturn as an opportunity to look for prospects and are now increasing our focus on the upstream oil and gas side of the market. Our emphasis will be on FPSO, platform and subsea projects. Subsea activities will be a significant part of the market going forward and we aim to grow our influence in this area. Hopefully this will facilitate our expansion and cement our position as a specialist manufacturer.”

Subsea solutions focus
The KKI Engineering team, headed by Dr. Jonathan Lodge, is currently focused on the quality and operational efficiency of its subsea solutions. This team knows how important it is to create valves that can be relied upon; in the future, especially in the light of recent events, there can be no margin for error in subsea processes.

It is only a rigorous approach to testing, quality control and assurance, and the utilisation of the company’s 20 years of subsea experience that will guarantee that its valves will operate successfully in such extreme environments. Therefore recently, much work has been done with regards to renewing the company’s API 6A PR2 accreditation, with the stringent requirements having been successfully met. Furthermore, investment in new equipment to allow a million step tests, and hyperbaric depth qualifications to 2400m depths (designed for 3000m depths) can further reassure customers about the absolute quality of the products they are ordering.

As important to KKI and its customers as the quality of manufacturing is the quality of the design of subsea valves. The avoidance of the expense and inconvenience to customers of unscheduled repairs starts on the drawing board (or rather the computer) at KKI. The team designs against three core configurations: non-retrievable, diver-retrievable and ROV (remotely-operated vehicle) / ROT (remotely operated tooling) insert retrievable. For this last option, at water depths of up to 2400m and external pressures of 240 bar, the pressure within the actuators must be compensated to ensure their effective and continuous running. There’s no room for error, and so the team’s knowledge and experience of these hostile environments and working conditions is a reassurance to engineers and buyers as they select suppliers for subsea projects.

Every KKI subsea valve is designed from scratch, according to the process it will be serving and the conditions in which it will be operating. Quality standards need to be adhered to (API 6A PSL 3G); material class requirements must be met (API 6A, EE, FF and HH), as must temperature class requirements (API 6A L to U standards, allowing for a temperature range of –46° to +121°C). Trim configurations are a vital part of the design process, helping to avoid scenarios that might damage the valve during normal running and potentially lead to catastrophic failures further downstream. At KKI, these trim types include non-collapsible, bi-directional, single stage, multi-stage, velocity control and micro and multi-spline trims. Nothing is left to chance, and this is the secret behind KKI’s enduring success over the past forty years and more.

Other developments
But it is not only subsea markets that are a focus for KKI this year. The company is also investing heavily in the development of their Vector Labyrinth trim, and investment in quality standards such as APIQ 29001, ISO18000 and ISO29001 will further reinforce KKI’s reputation for excellence in the market place.

Looking after our customers’ specific requirements doesn’t stop once a valve leaves the factory. The KKI philosophy of total quality is as embedded into aftercare as it is in the design and production of new valves. The service, spares and manufacturing teams often work together on aftercare client challenges. This combination of expertise ensures quality, reduces risk, controls cost and can provide a much faster turnaround than could be expected elsewhere.

KKI’s longevity certainly helps in the delivery of an exemplary full product lifetime service. Records exist for every valve ever produced and serviced in the factory’s 40-year history. This unique record of the life of a valve, along with the service conditions in which it is operating, means that the team knows exactly what they are dealing with before they begin to service it.

No service too severe
So as 2010 progresses and the economic climate gradually improves, KKI’s customers will be safe in the knowledge that their chosen supply partner will still be delivering the highest quality solutions to their valve needs – whatever the application, however severe, wherever it is in the world.

Koso Kent Introl, Tel: 01484 710311
Website: www.kentintrol.com

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 15

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