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Don’t hit a bogey during bolted flange joint assembly

A golfer, when approaching any shot, knows the importance of selecting the correct clubs for the situation (e.g. distance to the hole, course position [e.g. fairway, rough, green, etc.]) and a positive mental attitude to aid club selection, just as a Hydratight engineer does during assembly and inspection of a bolted flange joint.

Both will select the right equipment for the job at hand. The golfer knows the difference between an iron and a wood. The engineer knows the difference between carbon and stainless steels. The incorrect selection of a materials can cause problems which could contribute to bolt failure, incorrect loading of gaskets and ultimately lead to leaks.

Furthermore, choosing the wrong lubricant can lead to over or under loading the joint. Choosing the wrong bolt or gasket material can lead to multiple types of corrosion.

Whilst the effects themselves may not be immediately visible it is possible for a joint assembled with an incompatible bolt or gasket material to pass both a hydro and integrity test, remain in service for some time and then fail due to accelerated corrosion mechanisms.

The industry has experienced the damage caused when a carbon steel seal ring has been used instead of a stainless steel one. In most cases this oversight results in lengthy production delays in pipeline networks which have to be shutdown at significant cost.

However, in the worst cases it has led to leaks and explosions. These ultimately expose operators to a potential loss of life.

A “that’ll do” attitude is a risk to safety.  The ability to understand how the elements of a joint and the tools selected will perform in the harshest of industrial and natural conditions is a must for any qualified engineer and those under their command.

Our golfer might consider how the choice of club will affect power, distance or accuracy on the course. An engineer also has to understand how various material properties affect performance and its ability to assure integrity. 

Joint integrity is not a game to be taken lightly.  It can cost more than a ball lost in the rough and definitely a spot on the leader board.