Eaton XL cylinders help mooring tensioners withstand harsh conditions
In order to keep gas production on track, bespoke mooring tensioners were recently required for a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) compression and storage vessel off the coast of West Africa.
Due to the application’s brutal offshore conditions, the manufacturer of the mooring tensioners turned to long-term technology partner Eaton and its high-quality XL hydraulic cylinders, which provide top performance, extreme reliability and major safety advantages. Having worked together for over two decades, the customer knew that Eaton would keep its promises. A readiness to collaborate on customised designs, as well as manufacturing expertise, proprietary technologies and high-quality solutions, all made Eaton the customer’s first choice.
«Peace of mind was critical for our customer,» comments Peter Claessens, Manager Customer Support & Supply Chain. «Given our trusted relationship, they knew we could be relied upon to ensure success for them and their stakeholders as one of the world’s leading large cylinder manufacturers.»
Performance and reliability
With a proven record of performance and reliability, Eaton’s XL hydraulic cylinders find use in some of the world’s toughest applications across demanding sectors like oil and gas, mining, hydropower and more.
«The FLNG vessel plays a crucial role in the high-profile offshore venture our customer was supporting,» says Claessens. «Any issue with the ship’s stability could disrupt the entire project, creating not only safety concerns, but a considerable loss of time and money for all involved. It was up to us to make sure that didn’t happen.» The stakes were high, but the customer’s requirements also created some unique technical challenges. Eaton needed to supply a bespoke solution for the unusual mooring system compensating for the motion of waves, where the XL cylinders were in an atypical horizontal orientation. Additionally, Eaton’s solution needed to withstand brutal conditions.
Explains Claessens: «The challenge wasn’t only continuous exposure to saltwater and sea spray, but to sand blowing over from the Sahara desert in high winds. With project operations expected to run for up to three decades, Eaton’s solution not only had to perform, it had to be incredibly resilient.»
To meet these challenges, Eaton’s decades-long application experience, manufacturing expertise and commitment to the highest quality solutions were invaluable. «We always aim to build long-term customer relationships,» says Kamil Kubica, Product Sales Manager for the XL cylinder range. «That’s why we were ready to invest so much time, effort and joint-thinking into this project.» Design and manufacturing work took place at Eaton’s Eindhoven facility in the Netherlands, which boasts a team of dedicated project and application engineers, skilled assembly technicians and machining operators, as well as a state-of-the-art test facility. «Our engineers collaborated closely with the customer for many weeks to develop a bespoke solution and, as always, we strived to make working together as quick and easy as possible,» states Claessens.
Superior corrosion resistance
Once the best solution was agreed, working with Eaton also brought major technical advantages. For instance, Eatonite laser cladding, Eaton’s proprietary cylinder rod coating, offers superior corrosion resistance in saltwater operations following 10 years of proven use in the field with no reported failures. «Eatonite is a very dense coating that allows no access to the base material, which is the usual cause of corrosion and coating failures,» says Alpesh Shah, Global Product Manager – Cylinders. «That’s a critical issue to avoid because corrosion doesn’t just impair cylinder performance; hydraulic fluid can also leak into the sea creating environmental problems.»
To create the coating, a laser beam spot impinges the piston rod surface, producing a shallow molten pool. Following the injection of Eatonite powder, the pool solidifies as the piston rod cools, leaving cascading weld beads. The rod is then turned and polished to the final surface parameters. As a point of note, Eatonite is fully field repairable, which further reduces the cost of any necessary upkeep.
«Usually, cylinders would need to be dismantled and sent for recoating, but we can do repairs locally in application, minimising both the cost and time required,» says Claessens. Eaton also integrated a stroke measurement system, further enhancing the performance and safety factor of the mooring tensioners. The system enables the customer to know the position of the piston in the cylinder and accumulator at any moment. This capability also allows the early identification of any accumulator leaks, making it possible to deal with issues promptly. Without such a system, the first sign of a problem would be performance loss, or even sudden failure.
With just a 10-month lead-time, Eaton’s Eindhoven facility designed and delivered 12 mooring tensioner XL cylinders in carbon steel with built-in accumulators. Featuring a 600 mm diameter and 4500 mm stroke length, these hefty hydraulic cylinders have a design pressure of 230 bar (3335 psi). Each one is also equipped with high-grade stainless-steel piping and manifold blocks. Throughout this multi-million-euro project, Eaton’s application and manufacturing experience were crucial to the customer, enabling a high-quality product that combines performance, reliability and safety advantages. The existing close relationship was also invaluable, empowering Eaton to understand the customer’s needs in-depth and collaborate effectively on the best solution.
Low cost of ownership
By combining exceptional corrosion protection with an excellent sealing system, Eaton’s solution is able to withstand the application’s tough environment, substantially extending the lifetime of the mooring tensioners and enhancing operational safety. At the same time, Eaton’s solution lowers total cost of ownership by minimising the risk of unplanned maintenance or equipment downtime.
«Our customer focus was key to the success of this project, as was an expert manufacturing plant that always lives up to its promises and has a 100% on-time delivery record,» says Claessens. Eaton now stands ready to provide the customer with long-term support for repairs, spares, servicing and upgrades as required in the future.
Concludes Kubica: «We’re always ‘in it together’ with our customers, working towards mutual success. This project really brought that to life.» For more information, visit Eaton.com.