Forgemasters in Sheffield is alive and well! @ProcessingTalk #PAuto

The South Yorkshire steel casting specialist Sheffield Forgemasters has beaten Korean competition to secure a GBP1mIllion deal to cast a press frame for a US customer.

This contract is great news for the UK steel industry, when there is so much bad news about the Tata Steel plants around the UK. The Arkansas-based press manufacturer Ajax-Ceco has awarded Forgemasters the contract for the press frame because of the venerable UK firm’s quality of production and its input into the development and design process. Comprising 550 tonnes of steel, the frame will be almost 13m long, 3.5m wide and 3.2m deep.

“Winning the Ajax casting contract against strong overseas competition and harsh market conditions is purely down to our quality and technical manufacturing skills,” commented Forgemasters sales manager Michael Holloway.“We put a considerable body of work into modeling the casting ahead of a visit from the customer and this threw up some design modifications which were beneficial. This, combined with our history of delivering press frames to exacting specifications, including prior castings manufacture work with Ajax, was crucial to securing the work.”

The company will cast the frame from liquid steel; it will take several weeks to cool before it can be lifted from the casting pit, when it will then undergo heat treatments and machining, Holloway said. The finished article will be delivered to the Southwest Steel Processing forging plant in Newport, Arkansas, USA, where it will form part of a plant expansion, by early 2017.

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Multiple approval barriers to free trade in environmental protection systems

As a product development manager, I used to think that the supply of industrial instrumentation equipment was made particularly difficult by the plethora of International, European, American and specific industry (and country) specifications and requirements. In an age of International co-operation it seemed these approvals were designed to act as protective barriers for home industries. But these seem trivial compared to the problems faced by suppliers to the World shipping industry, in particular in relation to environmental protection.

Readers of this column over the years will have been aware that I reported enthusiastically on the Alfa Laval PureBallast treatment system for purifying ballast water discharges from ships, launched back in 2007, at Greenwich. This enthusiasm was because of both the professionalism of the launch, as well as the laudable product objective and aspiration: it was one of the best such events I had attended, despite atrocious windy weather, freak waves and thunderstorms on the boat cruise taking the Editors down to Greenwich! With slightly bigger waves there might have been no Editors left to report on the event!

BWT – Ballast Water Treatment systems

In the Alfa Laval system, light energy, from a broad spectrum source, acts on a Titanium catalyst in the flow, to produce hydroxyl ions, which oxidise and kill any organic material in the ballast discharge. This was developed in co-operation with Wallenius Water, who had done the shipboard tests on some of their ships over the previous three years. Alfa Laval launched this product in January 2007, to make it available for ship-owners in time to meet the IMO regulations that would require such equipment to be installed on all new build ships after 2009, in participating countries.

Another Scandinavian company, Optimarin from Norway, was at the same time addressing the ballast water treatment market, using Ultra-Violet light from high power UV sources (35kW) to kill any potentially harmful invasive organisms straight away. Optimarin was established in 1994 to develop this system, and supplied the first ever BWT system installed in 2000 on the Princess Cruise Line ‘Regal Princess’.

Extended approval timescales

It is significant that it is now 2016, over 20 years since Optimarin was founded, and at least 12 years after the first Alfa Laval systems were installed for sea trials on Wallenius ships. It is also 7 years after the first of the IMO regulations came into force – these did allow several years grace for older ships still operating from prior to 2009. All this makes for a very long lead time for any new product development to grow and become commercial!

Yet only in December last year did the US Coast Guard finally confirm that it would not type approve BWT systems if they failed to totally kill potentially invasive marine organisms transported in ballast water. This will exclude many ‘conventional’ UV purification systems which use lower power lamps as sources, since these render the organisms “unviable” (ie they are still alive but cannot reproduce). The approval tests carried out by DNV to prove performance to the USCG criteria (applying the CMFDA staining test method) takes up to a year, and Optimarin suggests that the testing – due for completion this year – will cost them around US$3m.

Alfa Laval also expresses confidence that their PureBallast system will meet the current USCG test criteria, and their tests will also be completed this year: at the moment, Alfa Laval points out that although US ballast water regulations took effect in 2012, no systems of any technology have yet been type approved by the USCG.

IMO, the World shipping legislative body

Indeed the IMO regulations themselves are not universally applied as yet: the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water & Sediments” is legislated to enter into force one year after being ratified by 30 states, representing 35% of the world’s tonnage. At present, March 2016, 46 states have ratified, representing 34.8% of the world’s tonnage – almost at the action stage! So the product is on the point of what should be a worldwide legislated requirement…..one more country to ratify the IMO proposal, with one more tanker, and a year later the market will be confirmed. Its only taken nearly 20 years for these products to become a market requirement!

The USCG requirements will have no effect on shipping using previously approved UV BWT systems in the seas and oceans outside US territorial waters.

Individual ship approvals, Insurers, and Ex regulations

The problems for the suppliers are not yet finished: for shipboard use the equipment also requires certification by a whole further range of classification organisations, like DNV GL, Lloyd’s, Bureau Veritas, MLIT Japan, and American Bureau of Shipping. Some tanker operators also require hazardous area approvals, i.e. to Zone 1 ATEX standards in Europe: Optimarin have supplied 10 such systems for the Turkish tanker fleet of Atlantis Tankers, which are designed for the transport of IMO II classified chemical cargoes.

Suppliers and users

Optimarin publish their existing major customers as comprising Saga Shipholding, MOL, Grieg Shipping Group, Gulf Offshore, Farstad Shipping, NYK, Nor Line and Evergreen Marine Corp. Since that initial installation in 2000, Optimarin have sold over 350 units, with 270 already installed. Optimarin in March announced a fleet agreement with UK shipowner and management company Carisbrook, which has the potential to cover retrofits across their entire fleet of 46 bulk and multi-purpose vessels.

Alfa Laval do not publish a customer list nor figures for the total number of their systems installed, but a PR from September 2015 discussed an Asian based shipping line placing an order for 33 systems. Another user has been quoted as MSC Containers.

Ballast water treatment retrofit work has been a major activity for Goltens Green Technologies (www.Goltens.com), a marine engineering contractor, who have already installed over 100 systems, from a current order book of 163. They supply systems from many manufacturers, listed as Optimarin, Bio-UV, Headway, Severn Trent DeNora, Alfa Laval, Auramarine, NK, Hyde Marine and Wärtsilä. Like Alfa Laval, Goltens are also involved in the supply and installation of other shipborne equipment required by and subject to environmental legislation, like SOx and NOx effluent control.

Whilst the retrofit market is important, the new build market is more significant, and obviously supplier attention is concentrated on the shipbuilders of South Korea.

© Nick Denbow, Processingtalk.info

@ProcessingTalk

Yokogawa expands intoTurkey

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that its subsidiary, Yokogawa Europe BV has acquired 100% of the shares of its distributor in Turkey, Birleşik Endüstriyel Sistemler Ve Tesisler AS (BEST), which is based in Izmir. Yokogawa sees this as a major step forward into the emerging market in Turkey and the associated area. The acquisition of shares was carried out on November 25.

With this acquisition, Yokogawa is strengthening its focus on Turkey as a market with substantial growth potential. It will allow Yokogawa to extend its position in several promising segments, such as the power industry. Through the acquisition, Yokogawa will also enhance its relationships with customers in Turkey.

“BEST has been Yokogawa’s distributor since 1977 and has already built an excellent reputation in the oil and gas industries, where it will continue to provide great value to customers,” comments Yokogawa Europe’s president Herman van den Berg: “Yokogawa is committed to working with customers as partners to help them get maximum value from their plant operations, and this acquisition is a major step forward in our plans to grow our footprint in emerging markets, and specifically in target industries including the power and energy sectors.”

Optical TDLAS process analysers

A new PR from UK instrumentation distributor Quantitech provides a wake-up call, on many levels. Hopefully readers of the INSIDER will already have been woken up to the technology awarement level.

Quantitech has been appointed the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Focused Photonics Inc, a supplier of process gas analysers based on tuneable diode laser absorption spectroscopy. TDLAS is one my favourite technology adaptations that has made significant recent progress in process industry instrumentation: maybe on fairly specific difficult applications it’s true. Yokogawa were out there in front, buying the technology developed by Dow Chemicals in 2007, or maybe earlier (believe me I had to look this up on this blog); Endress +Hauser has invested in it for years, big time, and then bought SpectraSensors too, in 2012; predictably, Emerson bought someone in 2014 (Cascade Technologies, a UK technology start-up. And again I had to find the name from an earlier article on this blog). Quantitech MD Keith Golding sees much wider application for these products, on the basis that Focused Photonics already have a world-wide installed population of over 8000 instruments.

The only other report that has quoted decent numbers was one earlier this year, and someone quoted hundreds of TDLAS units offshore measuring the moisture content in North Sea gas, – but the blog has failed to tell me who it was, on that one.

Golding also adds: “Developed out of Stanford University California, the cradle of TDLAS commercialisation, FPi was established in China in 2002 and now employs over 3,000 staff. We have visited a number of LGA installations and were very impressed by the standards of quality and reliability being delivered by these instruments.”

TXT 3 FPi factory

The FPi factory

Indeed the FPi website confirms the above comments: they have a factory in Hangzhou, China, and claim “FPi is the world leading integrated solutions provider of process control and environmental monitoring. Since being established in 2002 by two elite graduates of Stanford and UC Berkeley, FPi has specialized in analytical instruments innovation and manufacturing.” The two key personnel appear to be Dr Jian Wang, the Chairman, General Manager and Chief Engineer, plus Naxin Yao, another General Manager and Director.

“As a world class innovator in gas, water and particulate analysis technologies, FPI has been acknowledged for its expertise in DLAS (diode laser absorption spectroscopy), DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy), UltraViolet, Near-Infrared, Atomic spectroscopy, Molecular spectroscopy, Chromatography, spectrophotometric colorimetry and electrochemistry.” The applications quoted include flue gas monitoring and CEMS systems, air and water quality monitoring, lab analysis and metal analysis systems, as well as process analytical instruments.

TXT 3 FPi product

The FPi sensor for duct monitoring

So here we have technology expertise developed by Western (US in this case) universities, then taken up by foreign research students, who, all credit to them, establish a business based on this in China, backed by Chinese investors, and the resulting products, and jobs, arise from this Chinese investment in start-up technology. Not quite what UK PM Cameron sees as the end result of UK University technology expertise leading to high-tech UK jobs. But just what China wants to invest in, to enhance their industry.

Typical FPi applications include ammonia slip control, HCl measurement for sorbent injection optimisation, furnace oxygen, flue gas monitoring in FCC catalyst regeneration, trace H2S and H2O in natural gas, H2S measurements in sulphur recovery, and cross-duct CO monitoring for electrostatic precipitator safety.

Update May 2016

Quantitech have announced that their company has been acquired by Helsinki-based Gasmet Technologies (www.gasmet.com). Quantitech has acted as the Gasmet sales and service partner in the UK and Ireland since 1995: the Gasmet products are used in regulatory monitoring, process control and environment/safety applications. Quantitech will continue to operate from Milton Keynes, retaining the name and their current product range.

E+H expands into Colombia

After two decades serving the Colombian market, Endress+Hauser is acquiring 100 percent of its longtime sales and service partner in Bogotà, the process automation business of Colsein Ltda.

“We believe Colombia represents a market with great potential for further growth,” explains Michael Ziesemer, Chief Operating Officer of the Endress+Hauser Group. To date, the Swiss measurement and process automation specialist has been represented by local partner Colsein Ltda, whose portfolio includes a wide range of services such as calibration, maintenance and engineering, in addition to its sales activities.

To gain additional market share and fortify the Endress+Hauser brand even further in the country, Colsein’s process automation business will be transferred to a new Endress+Hauser sales subsidiary on 1 January 2016. The company will continue to maintain its headquarters in the capital city of Bogotà. Gabriel Navas, founder and managing director of Colsein, will continue as a member of the board.

A committed team
Of Colsein’s roughly 250 employees, nearly a third work in the process automation business. The company has represented Endress+Hauser in Colombia since 1993, successfully managing both domestic and international customers. “We’re pleased that we can rely on a skilled team of employees in Colombia who have worked hard to establish the Endress+Hauser brand in the country,” says Michael Ziesemer who adds: “This is a foundation we can build on.”

With a population of almost 50 million, Colombia is one of South America’s most populated countries, second only to Brazil. After Chile, it is considered the continent’s largest growth market. Although the oil and gas industry is the main driver of economic development, state-of-the-art measurement and automation technology is also helping to make process technologies efficient, safe and environmentally compatible in the food & beverage, water & wastewater and power & energy industries.

Netherlands takes action over gas field earthquakes

The following article appeared in the HazardEx newsletter this week, and is of particular relevance to the UK current discussions over the safety of fracking in Northwestern UK. The HazardEx newsletter can be accessed via www.hazardexonthenet.net

The Groningen gas field was discovered in the 1960s, and is a conventional gas reservoir, it does not use fracking. As the gas is extracted, small earthquakes have occurred as the ground, the roof of the reservoir, settles, presumably as a result of the reduction in the gas pressure below. Tens of thousands of homes have had to be shored up because of damage caused by the earthquakes

The government of the Netherlands apologised on March 2 for ignoring risks posed by earthquakes caused by production of natural gas in the northern province of Groningen. The apology follows a February 18 report by the country’s independent Safety Board that found that the government, together with Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon, had put profits before safety in exploiting the Groningen gas field.

Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said he was very sorry that the safety interests of Groningers had not received the attention they deserved. He said safety would now come first and that necessary measures would be taken to address the problem.

Last month Kamp ordered production at the Groningen field, Europe’s largest onshore gas field, to be cut by 16% for the first half of 2015, sending prices in northwest Europe surging. He is due to make another decision on production at the field on July 1.

Earthquakes were definitively linked to production at Groningen in 1993, but they became more frequent and intense after production was increased in 2008. Increased gas revenues provided important revenues for the state as the Dutch government pursued unpopular austerity policies.

After a 3.6 magnitude earthquake in 2012 — greater than any Shell and Exxon had forecast — regulators warned the government that citizens’ safety was at risk and called for production to be cut as quickly as possible. But the government did not order a reduction in production until last year, and then only a relatively small one.

The Groningen field accounts for two-thirds of Dutch gas production and the Netherlands supplies about 15% of Europe’s total natural gas, providing an important alternative to Russian gas.

In the wake of the Safety Board report, Dutch political parties across the spectrum are calling for Groningen never to return to former production levels, with left-leaning parties seeking further cuts in production.

Shell and Exxon have so far set aside 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in compensation after 30,000 buildings were damaged by recent earthquakes, although no serious physical injuries have been reported as a result of the quakes.

Siemens and British Glass announce partnership

The close ties between Siemens and trade body, the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation, have been further strengthened with the announcement of a new technology partnership between the two organisations.  Over the next five years, Siemens will invest up to GBP4m as a key strategic partner to the UK glass sector, providing a range of technology, research & development and skill support services.

As British Glass embarks upon the next phase of its development to ensure the UK glass industry remains globally competitive, Siemens will work alongside the organisation in a variety of critical areas.

A central element to the strategic growth plan for the sector will be the establishment of the new British Glass Innovation Centre, Sheffield – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – which will provide a centre of excellence for glass manufacturers and support the development of an innovative culture and skills for the sector.  The Centre, planned to be built on the Phase 2 site of Sheffield Business Park, will include fully functioning glass production plants, as well as promoting leadership in important areas such as new product development and fast prototyping.

It will also be home to The Glass Academy, the training and skills development initiative set up by British Glass to train the next generation of engineers and technicians entering the sector with the relevant fit-for-purpose skills and qualifications, and to continue to upskill the industry’s current workforce, encouraging a culture of lifelong learning in the sector. Siemens will provide a wide range of technical, product and manpower support to ensure British Glass’ plans benefit from world-class manufacturing expertise, technical excellence and global sector knowledge.

Dave Dalton, left, and Brian Holliday of Siemens

Dave Dalton, left, and Brian Holliday of Siemens

Brian Holliday, Managing Director, Digital Factory – Siemens UK & Ireland, comments: “We are delighted to announce this substantial investment in the future of the UK glass industry.  We are impressed by the strategic ambition of British Glass to develop an innovative culture and to make British glass-making a globally competitive leader. Siemens has a long established relationship with the glass industry across the UK. By developing this technology partnership we want to ensure glass manufacturing is at heart of the future of manufacturing agenda. The newly proposed British Glass Innovation Centre at Sheffield is a prime example where the leaders in the sector are setting out a clear vision for the future and this must be applauded and supported.”

Dave Dalton, CEO of British Glass, says: “Siemens is the first major partner to commit to working with us on the journey to an exciting and highly competitive future. The breadth of Siemens’ technical expertise and support offered to us through the partnership will be vital if we are to successfully transform our industry for the twentyfirst century.  In addition, the concerted efforts by Siemens to help us develop the skills of people in the sector, as well as those entering it, ensures we have a powerful combination to push our industry forward over the next five years.”

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development at Sheffield City Council, commented on the announcement: “This is great news for Sheffield. The investment on its own is excellent news and is creating high quality job opportunities. But  when linked to similar developments along the arc of the junction 33 and 34 of the M1, the city is beginning to realise its  potential as one of the major clusters of high value engineering and innovation in Europe if not the world.”