Testing times at KKI

KKI’s testing bays

Data is analysed on-site, in real time

Valve testing has come a long way since Koso Kent Introl built it first bespoke test facility in the yard of its Factory 2 site in Brighouse, back in the 1980s.

The ‘giraffe house’, a tall, wooden structure was originally built to enable a single gas test to be carried out, but was then used more or less continuously for the next two decades. More recently, KKI has made significant investment into state-of-the-art testing facilities on-site – creating a testing suite inside its Factory 2 site in Brighouse, which has been totally reconfigured to accommodate it.

Creating a complete testing capability
Today, four fully-equipped test bays are used to carry out the full range of valve tests, including body hydrostatic testing, body gas testing and PR2 qualification testing (to API6A/ISO-10423/ISO-13628- 4) and fugitive emission testing (to ISO15848-1).

Since every valve undergoes at least a hydrostatic test before it leaves the factory, significant investment has been made into the company’s facilities for these tests, which can subject a valve to up to 1.5 times its maximum specified working pressure. In particular, the water treatment system not only ensures the water is kept clean and at a uniform pH level, but also uses corrosion inhibitors and biocides to protect the valves, ensuring they do not rust as they are subjected to tests.

And later this year, to complete the facilities, behind 4" thick timber doors lined with 10mm of steel, reinforced concrete walls, and a state-of-the-art access system, KKI will proudly unveil its brand new high-pressure gas testing pit. Sunk to a depth of 2.5 metres, containing 6000 litres of treated water, the pit will allow even the largest of valves to be tested, in the safest possible environment. The facility – one of perhaps only four of its kind in the UK – will allow gas testing with helium or nitrogen, to 1.1 times a valve’s maximum specified working pressure.

In the last 18 months, KKI has also invested in a new test hydraulic power unit (THPU) with automated programmable logic control (PLC) for the qualification and factory testing of subsea hydraulic actuators. It has since been used for the performance and millionstep testing of the current KKI subsea actuator range, which was successfully concluded recently. The unit runs 24 x 7 and is capable of testing up to 5,000 psi working pressure systems and either stepping or modulating functionality.

This massive overall investment in testing facilities is a result of Koso Kent Introl’s continuous improvement philosophy. The outcome is much more efficient and cost effective production processes, since valves no longer need to be sent externally for testing. In this way, workloads and project timelines can be much more accurately managed, especially if any functional anomalies are found in the valves during testing, since remedial action can be taken immediately.

Data is collected and recorded digitally, allowing a complete audit trail of all testing activities to support valve certification at the end of testing. Where appropriate, customers are invited to inspect testing procedures as they are taking place; on occasion they even specify the parameters of the tests themselves. This gives greater levels of reassurance, especially where valves will be operating in severe service applications.

And of course, since the health and safety of the workforce is of paramount importance to KKI, these facilities mean that the risks associated with testing under pressures of up to 22,500 psi and at temperatures ranging from -196 to +250 degrees C are fully controlled.

The future
The giraffe house stands empty in the yard these days, a soon-to-bedemolished reminder of the long history of testing at KKI. But the future of this vital process is brighter (and is certainly much warmer!) as a result of the new facilities that have been created at KKI recently. Moreover, the company’s knowledge and expertise will be more readily available to the industry going forward, as KKI plans offer its testing facilities as a service to customers in the near future.

Shaping subsea testing practices for over a decade
It has long been accepted that subsea valves (or more particularly their actuators) must undergo a million-step endurance test to prove reliability of design over time. KKI was involved in the initial specification of this test, back in the late 1990s. An industry-sponsored study was set up to review the proposed designs of subsea control, choke and high performance butterfly valves (including actuation) for one of the first subsea separator systems in the industry. As part of the study, extensive site integration testing (SIT) including the subsea valves, control system and umbilical would be carried out at KKI’s Brighouse facility. Deciding that the actuators would carry out approximately 600,000 actions in their working lifetime, KKI proposed that a million steps should actually be tested. Since then, this number has been accepted as the standard testing requirement for this equipment.

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

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 18

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