TPi March 2023

The international trade magazine for tube and pipe products

The trade magazine for tube and pipe products

March 2023

Photo credit: Patrick Hendry

Business & market news

ViaCon acquires Tubosider to strengthen UK steel corrugated pipe market position

“This will open up great prospects within our marketplace providing an opportunity to further develop our StormWater Solutions business within the UK civil engineering sector. “As part of this expanding entity, ViaCon creates unlimited goals for Tubosider UK who aim to become a more dominant player offering sustainable products for use within the expanding StormWater Solutions as well as bridges and culverts solutions market.”

across the ViaCon network in the UK and across Europe. Stormwater solutions reduce the risk of flooding as a consequence of heavy rainfall. As such rainfalls become more frequent and more extreme due to the ongoing effect of climate change, these solutions are becoming increasingly essential to protect infrastructure and keep people safe. ViaCon’s solutions based on corrugated steel structures bring a better total cost for customers and are more sustainable as they use energy and resources more efficiently. Anne Duckworth, managing director of ViaCon UK, said: “Becoming a part of ViaCon offers a welcome and exciting future for Tubosider UK. Adam advantage technical manager at Polypipe, said: “It has been well publicised that the construction sector is under pressure to deliver more sustainable solutions despite a backdrop of Brexit and a shortage of people and skills. “As a result we are seeing changes coming through from architects and designers and onto the subcontractors we work with in how they deliver projects in order to meet the government targets for Net Zero. “Now customers are looking at avoiding any unnecessary project waste, which ends up in landfill, and offsite construction and fabrication meets this need because it offers greater precision. “It also delivers greater cost predictability on projects, as our Advantage team provides bespoke design, cutting, assembling and pressure testing within our state-of-the-art facility. “This allows contractors to make progress with a made-to-measure drainage system and also removes the need for specialist teams to be on site to install them.” Cafer,

ViaCon has acquired UK company Tubosider, a leading manufacturer and supplier of corrugated steel solutions for stormwater management systems and solutions for bridges and culverts. The acquisition builds ViaCon’s foothold in stormwater management in the UK market. It strengthens its market leadership position in Europe for corrugated steel-based civil engineering solutions, providing an even stronger platform for delivering competitive, cutting-edge and sustainable products. Tubosider UK is now trading under the name ViaCon. The company will maintain Tubosider’s expertise and high standards, while Tubosider’s clients will receive the benefits of a wealth of experience Following calls from the government for the greater use of offsite manufacture within public sector projects, drainage specialists Polypipe Building Services has seen a doubling in demand for its fabricated Advantage service in both new commercial buildings and within local authority residential tower blocks. From 2020 to October this year the UK-based company has more than doubled production of its fabricated soil vent drainage pipes and this increased demand has generated a growth within their fabrication team by 62 per cent since 2016 as developers look to offsite construction to deliver more efficient, sustainable projects.

Stefan Nordström, CEO of ViaCon, said: “I am very pleased about the acquisition and going forward we see very promising operational as well as commercial synergies.” ViaCon Polypipe Building Services sees demand double for offsite manufacturing services

The Terrain brand of offsite fabricated drainage stacks at Polypipe has been used in more than 300 local authority high-rises and are fast becoming the material of choice because of their speed and ease of installation as plastic is light to handle and easy to adapt to accommodate additional drainage connections and is also less likely to clog with waste product. Mr Cafer added: “Judging on our growth so far, we anticipate offsite fabrication will become one of the fastest growing areas for us in the next couple of years.” Polypipe Building Services

Adam Cafer is advantage technical manager at Polypipe Building Services



Business & market news

Danfoss Power Solutions introduces counterbalance valve for H1B bent-axis motor

integration and reducing time to market. The valve also offers a broad range of options to optimise performance through damping and overall behaviour of the main spool, as well as an optional charge port for external charging or system heat-up. “Our customers know and love our H1 family of bent-axis motors,” said Sünje Marsch, high-power portfolio manager, hydrostatics, Danfoss Power Solutions. “This new counterbalance valve enables them to bring a motor they’ve used for years in closed-circuit propel systems to open-circuit systems, with the high power density and precise control they need for such applications.” Danfoss H1B motors with counterbalance valve are ideal for wheeled and a key enabler for integrated carbon-free hydrogen solutions. With our partner, Monford Group, we offer a very robust and competitive combination and are committed to make this project a reference for the industry.” Technip Energies is responsible for the overall project management and the electrolysis plant engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up. Monford Group is responsible for the overall project construction and the PV farm engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up. The Project has received grant funding from the federal government via ARENA, as part the advancing renewables program and from Western Australia state government as a part of Western Australian renewable hydrogen fund. Mitsui & C Ltd (Mitsui) has agreed to acquire a 28 per cent stake in Yuri Operations Pty Ltd subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions under its investment agreement. Ciaran Shannon, chief commercial officer of Monford Group, added: “Monford Group is proud to deliver the first

Danfoss Power Solutions, a global supplier of mobile and industrial hydraulics, as well as electric powertrain systems, has introduced a counterbalance valve for its H1B bent axis motor, expanding the motor’s application to open-circuit systems. Specifically designed for the motor, the counterbalance valve enables original equipment manufacturers to harness the benefits of the variable-speed H1B motor, including compact design and efficiency, in high-power drivetrain and winching applications while preventing overspeed and cavitation. In comparison to competitive offerings, the counterbalance valve for H1B reduces pressure drop, improving system efficiency, and features integrated pressure relief valves, simplifying system French engineering and technology company Technip Energies has been awarded an engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract by Yuri Operations Pty Ltd, to develop Project Yuri Phase 0 project, which is a green hydrogen plant in Western Australia. Project Yuri, which is being developed in partnership with Yara Clean Ammonia and ENGIE, includes a 10MW electrolysis plant and an 18MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm with its 8MW battery energy system (BESS) providing the necessary energy for the electrolysis. It will produce up to 640 tonnes of green hydrogen per annum for use in the existing Yara Pilbara Ammonia plant to produce green ammonia. Laure Mandrou, SVP carbon-free solutions of Technip Energies, said: “We are very proud to be entrusted by ENGIE and Yara to deliver this flagship project. Yuri project is an important milestone paving the way for an accelerated deployment of green hydrogen capacity to decarbonise the industry. Technip Energies is engaged in playing a leading role in this journey and this award reinforces our position as

A counterbalance valve for the Danfoss H1B bent-axis motor

crawler excavators, crawler and truck cranes and drilling and pipe handling applications. The DN32 counterbalance valve, available in two versions, fits H1B motors with displacements ranging from 160 to 250 cubic centimetres. A DN25 valve, to be introduced in 2023, will fit H1B motors with displacements

ranging from 80 to 110cc. Danfoss Power Solutions

Technip Energies awarded EPCC contract for green hydrogen project in Australia

renewable hydrogen plant in Western Australia alongside Technip Energies unlocking the Pilbara’s renewable energy potential and leading the path to a zero-carbon future. We are privileged to be part of this cornerstone project, which will set a benchmark for Australia’s Green Hydrogen ambition delivery program. Monford Group is focused on decarbonisation and this project embodies the drive and ambition of the Monford team to provide an integrated solution to renewable project delivery.” The project has been named as YURI, and the project plan has a multi-phase roadmap, which aims to establish a new industry value chain, harvesting the abundant renewable power in Western Australia, to make renewable hydrogen and ammonia as feedstock for renewable chemical production, as well as renewable fuel for power generation and shipping, serving local and export markets in Asia and beyond. Monford Group Technip Energies



Business & market news

Neles NDX 2.0 intelligent valve controller for more sustainable industrial processes

The Neles NDX™ 2.0 is a next-generation intelligent valve controller offering more sustainable valve control performance for all process industries, valves and applications. With its modular design, Neles NDX 2.0 is easy to install, use and service. It was showcased at the Valve World Expo and Conference 2022 in Germany. “Valmet’s flow control business has a long history of developing valve automation technologies. We’ve been very strong in valve controller products and currently rank among the top three biggest manufacturers of valve controllers in the world,” said Kalle Suurpää, vice-president of valve controls and actuators at Valmet’s flow control business line. The Neles NDX 2.0 has universal performance: it is designed to work on top of any valve and actuator, regardless of the manufacturer or valve size. It also provides interoperability with the most common automation systems and is suitable for all operating environments. “We have utilised customer feedback to take the usability of Neles NDX to the next level. The renewed user interface makes it easier and simpler to use, increasing reliability and safety in daily operations,” Mr Suurpää added.

The Neles NDX™ 2.0 valve controller provides a sustainable solution for all process industries, valves and applications

The Neles NDX 2.0 offers savings in air consumption and, consequently, in energy efficiency. “The pneumatic relay of the controller has been redesigned so that it consumes approximately 80 to 90 per cent less air than the conventional controllers. Thanks to the lower air consumption, the NDX 2.0 provides significant energy savings and reduces CO 2 emissions throughout its lifecycle,” said Niklas Lindfors, director, positioners product centre, flow control business line, Valmet. The Neles NDX 2.0 is a versatile solution for all actuator sizes, linear or rotary action, and the customer can cover all their needs at one plant, while minimising the items in inventory. Valmet expanded its offering with valve solutions in April 2022, when the industrial flow control company Neles was merged into Valmet. Neles is now a flow control business line at Valmet. Its valve automation offering ranges from limit switches to reliable actuators and intelligent valve controllers with diagnostics. Valmet Motion and control technologies company, Parker Hannifin, was present at Bauma 2022 to showcase its portfolio of key technologies with the theme ‘Projecting and engineering a greener future’. Featuring an ‘earth-moving’ centrepiece, Parker’s stand had a dedicated area for company expects to deliver more than 15 talks throughout the week on topics covering electrification, hydrogen technologies and material science, IoT, alternative fuel delivery systems and engine and hydraulic filtration. The company presented various solutions for the construction and mining industries. Visitors were able to explore new products and learn about their technical specifications, capabilities and benefits. An early highlight in Parker’s Bauma week was a ‘Bauma Special’ Expert Insights talk featuring Paul Horvat, VP of business development for Parker’s Motion Systems Group, and Shawn Horner, VP of Parker’s Motion Technology Centre. A greener future at Bauma 2022 event

May Issue Editorial & advertising closing date: 5 th April 2023 Editorial features

Copper & aluminium tubes Steel & stainless steel pipes Show issue for

July Issue Editorial & advertising closing date: 20 th June 2023 Editorial features

OCTG, gas & pipeline products Construction & structural tubes

2023 Media Pack

Parker Hannifin



Business & market news

Safe options for the hazardous leakage containment of underground piping systems

drain conduit, leak detection and they may be retrofitted to existing fittings and valves. Velcro type flexible containment piping system Constructed of durable seamless welding (not sewing) PVC,PU or EVA film. These units are made using transparent film, easy shields that break sprays while containing them (they will not leak out).They are also low price and easy to install. Wenzhou Leakage Corrosion Hardware Products Co

have easy shields that break sprays without containing them and units that are moderately contained and can be flush as well as drain connected, which are low priced and adaptable to most sites. The weakness lies in cleaning after leaks, and the risk of them leaking on their own. LCH offers custom-made PVC, PU, EVA, FEP, ECTFE, PTFE and grass fibres flexible containment fittings, flanges, valve covers and enclosures. They may also be subject to dimensional constraints as they can be equipped (at an additional cost) with a purge and

Containment pipes were initially developed as a means of containing a fluid that might escape from the primary pipes and for preventing hazardous materials from endangering people or contaminating soil, groundwater or air. Double containment piping systems are very economical and reliable methods for protecting against accidental or intentional leaks of corrosive or hazardous fluids caused by failure of either the primary carrier pipe or its components. The secondary piping is made of plastic and steel. A popular approach to preventing overheating is to totally enclose the gasketed/packed area in a tightly sealed enclosure, which is typically capable of withstanding some internal pressure or vacuum from the outside and therefore assuring better control of external leakage from all parts of the body. Splash guards are constructed by durable sewing of fabrics. These units

Double containment piping systems are very economical and reliable methods for protecting against accidental or intentional leaks



Business & market news

Tube extruder aids productivity at Vesta Thermoplastics

The MEDD’s interchangeable barrel assembly, ease of maintenance and operator accessibility have been notable. This design is specific to clean room environments, providing a replaceable feed section liner and direct drive technology for bottom line efficiency and materials flexibility. Stainless steel surfaces, quick change capabilities and a broad

Vesta Thermoplastics, a Lubrizol Life Science Health (LLS Health) company, and supplier of tight-tolerance extrusions for the medical industry, recently installed a Davis-Standard MEDD extruder to augment the company’s existing Davis Standard HPE extruders. The MEDD has helped Vesta increase productivity, alleviate potential backlogs and address shorter lead times for the company’s portfolio of thin-wall tubing, multi-lumen, and coextrusion products. This includes tubing and devices that support single-use and long-term implantable applications such as neurostimulation, feeding and drainage tubes, catheters and vascular loops. “We’ve had a lot of success with our HPE extruders, and the MEDD has been a welcomed addition. We bought this machine during 2022 MD&M West since the show is only 30 minutes from our facility, making delivery very convenient,” said Steven Mayol, senior process engineer at Vesta Thermoplastics. “Installation went smoothly and the MEDD is already proving to be a good investment. Being able to exchange barrel sizes when necessary and having the capacity to run a variety of high-temperature polymers is essential to our business model. We pride ourselves in delivering extrusion tubing that no one can challenge, including extrusions that involve new polymers.”

The MEDD has helped Vesta increase productivity, alleviate potential backlogs and address shorter lead times

polymer range enable the tubing consistency and reliable performance Vesta needs to serve current and emerging medical markets. Vesta’s innovation encompasses lead tubing, balloon tubing, custom extrusion, PEEK extrusion, braided tubing, striping and multi-layer coextrusion, multi-lumen, heat shrink tubing, rapid and bump extrusion. Mr Mayol also commented on Davis-Standard’s personalised approach to service. “Davis-Standard has been exemplary with timely, customer-centric service. Their troubleshooting support has also been helpful whenever we’ve needed it,” he said. “This includes designing the right feedscrews for our polymer range to address targeted outputs with excellent melt quality and product consistency.” Davis-Standard After its phase one trials, Essentra Components has announced that a number of products within its LDPE range are now manufactured almost entirely from recycled materials. The selected products are made from 98 per cent recycled plastic with the remaining two per cent being made up of colourants. The selected product range consists of tapered caps and plugs, corner protectors, tube end plugs and tube end caps in what is described a significant step forward in sustainability and carbon reduction. The products are part of a two-phase project that aims to increase as many of Essentra Components’ LDPE range from the current up to 50 per cent composition to the new 98 per cent composition. Phase two of the project is currently undergoing quality assurance testing and is expected to be released in the coming months. The new milestone is the latest in a series of sustainability test successes, with Essentra Components recently announcing its core LDPE range has seen its recycled material content increase from up to 40 per cent to up to 50 per cent. The new range is already available to customers and will be manufactured primarily in Essentra’s Kidlington factory in Oxford, UK. Essentra Components Increased recycled content within LDPE

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“The most exciting yet challenging part of my career was to make Skipper a state-of art manufacturing facility with a strong team of design engineers and draughtsmen who can continuously develop innovative, construction-friendly and effective pipe and valve designs.”

Interview – Siddharth Bansal Director, Skipper Limited

The Skipper polymer division is fast emerging as an important company in the polymer pipes business nationally, contributing to multiple developing sectors as India also expands its infrastructure. We have increased our retail footprints to more than 25,000 touchpoints across the country. Can you tell us a bit about the history of your company since it was first established. Skipper began operating in 1981. Back then the name of the company was Skipper Investments Ltd. Skipper’s journey started by manufacturing Hamilton poles. Not long after, Hamilton poles became extinct. But this did not stop Skipper from growing. We quickly diversified into manufacturing towers and masts and named the company Skipper Steels Ltd. By 2009, Skipper had already made its mark in the Indian market. The company diversified into the PVC market and started manufacturing plastic water pipes. With the commissioning of the Uluberia unit, the first PVC unit, and India’s first double-side Tube GI plant in 2009, Skipper proved to be a leader in the polymer section in the domestic market. From being awarded the ‘Best Industry in Water Resources Sector’ by CBIP in 2016 to having a manufacturing capacity of 51,000 MTPA for polymer products in 2022, Skipper came a long way. Today, Skipper has evolved into a leading international manufacturer of T&D structures in its engineering products segment. The company has ventured into the EPC infrastructure space and has been established as a trusted partner for multinationals for executing critical infrastructure EPC projects. Furthermore, Skipper is a leading and respected players within the piping industry, manufacturing a wide range of premium quality pipes and fittings, which find application in different sectors such as plumbing, sewage, agriculture and borewell. We are an engineering conglomerate in the true sense in this modern era.

What does your company specialise in? Skipper operates in the polymer pipes business. We manufacture premium quality polymer pipes and fittings, which serve the agricultural and commercial plumbing sectors. We cater for both international and local markets with our engineering division’s offerings include products for transmission towers, telecom towers, transmission monopoles, lighting and distribution poles, angles, fasteners and railway structures. Today, we are proud to contribute towards nation building with our various products. As a major conglomerate, a big achievement for Skipper is rapid technology adoption and progress in R&D and manufacturing capabilities by establishing state-of-the-art facilities. We are proud to say that all of facilities are based in Assam, India — including five manufacturing facilities with a total capacity of 300,000 MTPA for the engineering business, 51,000 MTPA polymer production business, one NABL accredited R&D lab and a testing facility.



from the down cycles that any one segment may experience from time to time. But at the same time, this move proved to be one of the most challenging responsibilities of my career. Although challenging, the merit of having a healthier mix of both institutional and retail-based businesses, to ameliorate the

What are the future plans for your company? Do you see a lot of potential for growth? In our polymer business, we are playing an active part in the growth of the country’s PVC pipes and fittings market, which is anticipated to register a double-digit CAGR of approxi mately 14 per cent by revenue. To give you some context, India is an expanding economy, in terms of population, urbanisation and industrialisation, which makes the require ment larger than any other country in terms of volume. Given this, we are delighted to contribute to India to meet its requirement for an efficient water supply system. Through our polymer business, we would like to keep contributing to government initiatives: the Housing for All, Nal se Jal, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Swachh Bharat Mission. In the coming years, the demand is set to grow phenomenally and India will strengthen its position as an investment hotbed. Solely in the polymer business, India presents a collective opportunity of Rs35,000 plus crores for large and organised players like us. Going forward in this direction, we are investing in a superior customer experience through a range of high quality products and solutions in the markets. What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job and working in your current role? At Skipper, we are determined to become an enduring ‘growth performer’. We believe that we can invigorate our growth rate by focusing on both the short-term and the long-term. If the past six quarters are to be seen closely, it’s evident that our implemented programmes have shown excellent results for long-term momentum. Our foray into adding the polymers business, as an additional platform to our established engineering business, was the culmination of this approach. Today, this approach is creating a promising future for Skipper. When we started our Polymer business 10 years ago, there was a conviction and a belief that with the launch of these additional verticals, new revenues and drivers of growth will follow. While we understood that this would be an extended journey, we were well prepared to build long-term value from this business. Once this foundation was laid, everyone at Skipper became committed to it. In trying to change our growth trajectory through our polymer pipes and fittings business, we invested, created and are now performing. Today, we have been able to scale up this business to have a visible presence as a leading national, branded player. As we scale the polymer business to become at par with our existing mature businesses in size and stature, I enjoy each day of the process. What is the toughest aspect of your job? For me, the toughest aspect of my job would be how we need to keep reinventing ourselves or differentiate ourselves through superior quality, a reputation for high reliability and technically modern water plumbing solutions each day. The domestic polymer industry manufactures a wide range of products and is very heterogeneous, with a good mix of large enterprises, multinational companies and small and medium companies. Diversifying into new products and service lines can provide an effective path to sustainable growth, and de-risk oneself

inconsistencies of long gestation and institutional-based B2C business proved to be a boon for Skipper, especially in the post-pandemic world. I enjoy each and every day being in the decision-making position for Skipper. What’s the most exciting or challenging project you have been involved in during your career so far? The most exciting yet challenging part of my career was to make Skipper a state-of-art manufacturing facility with a strong team of design engineers and draughtsmen who continuously develop innovative, construction-friendly and cost-effective designs. We strive to make Skipper a sustainable manufacturing hub that is founded on the following four activities that help the environment across its entire supply chain with activities that are identified as: energy use reduction, water use reduction, emissions reduction and waste generation reduction. At Skipper, most of our optimisation of processes is done regarding minimising the impact on our environment and at the same time reducing machining time or machining cost. Our costing models are constructed in alignment with environmental compliance. In addition to improving and optimising the existing processes, Skipper also focuses on developing new processes that use less harmful materials and generate fewer emissions, which can then be considered as green processes. One example is our strong focus on CPVC over regular PVC as raw material. Sustainable manufacturing is an important aspect and is considered by Skipper in its manufacturing processes, not because it is a fad but a necessity as an obligation to the world we live in. Product life cycle analysis has become a crucial tool of choice being used to establish the environmental impact of the products that we produce. I have made it my personal mission to build a greener and more sustainable company over the next few years. What is the worst crisis you have faced – or your proudest moment during your career so far? The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak affected the overall business of Skipper. The national polymer sector also experienced a significant impact. Major raw material orders that were commissioned faced delays. Moreover, the rising prices of raw materials along with sky-high freight charges made manufacturing difficult during this time. These effects are still visible in the sector although things are now quickly



shifting towards normality. Skipper had to absorb additional costs in exchange for keeping the manufacturing and operation running. Losses were incurred and since then Skipper has strongly bounced back. However, I also take pride in the fact that Skipper reported a strong set of financial results in the period after Covid, preserving our liquidity and preventing the loss of net worth. More significantly, we used the time to push forward with our other businesses aggressively while maintaining focus on our strategic pillars and laying the groundwork for our development goals. This feat was only possible with the help of our hard-working workforce who prioritised the needs of the company before their own. As the director of Skipper, nothing makes me happier than achieving success as a family. How do you see the tube and pipe industry changing over the next few years following the global recession and the recent pandemic? I think the world has returned to normality in terms of trade after a brief halt for the pandemic. India is expected to perform positively in terms of economy and there are good reasons for it. India is witnessing rising PVC pipes demand from agriculture, automotive, building and construction, electrical and other end-use industries owing to the government’s initiatives. India is one of the biggest consumers of CPVC through plumbing pipe and fittings products. The mounting need for clean water in all residential and commercial projects has driven the growth of plumbing pipe and fittings products. Further, the amplified demand for housing, which is attributable to the ever-increasing population, as well as the rise in personal disposable income, has also driven the overall growth of this segment. There has been a shift in demand from metal to polymer based pipes, especially in plumbing and piping application in the construction industry. This has led to an increase in the usage of plastic pipes and the emergence of CPVC pipes for hot and cold water plumbing. In order to encourage the sector, the Government of India has been placing orders for sewage, water supplies and plumbing pipes. Continuous increase in the allocation of irrigation and housing by the government is going to give momentum to the piping industry. With the rapid growth in population, there has been an increase in demand for residential applications of pipes as well. The government at the centre and states has put the priority focus on the Jal Jeevan Mission, Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, sanitation and affordable houses to all and the development of 100 smart cities on a Pan India basis. As for learning after the pandemic, I would say that organisations can truly understand their supply chains.

of) real-time, actionable third-party risk management (TPRM) data. Few organisations have invested in the infrastructure and master data management processes required to create this kind of real-time TPRM data platform. Post-Covid we have specifically strengthened our technological capabilities and concerns. Build a circle of trust – suppliers need to be able to communicate more openly with buyers when they are struggling and not fear that this honesty will cause them to be cut out of the supply chain. Enterprises need to change the conversation with suppliers by making it clear that they are willing to “take on a bit of risk to manage risk” by helping struggling suppliers recover. This could involve providing management and process advice, or even financial assistance. What advice would you give to someone trying to make it in the tube industry as you did yourself? For youngsters who are considering starting a plastic manufacturing business, I would advise them to first put a firm business plan in place. Any type of business is challenging and involves an element of risk, and in these tough economic times, stabilising a new business can be demanding. However, by managing your expenses well, shifting your marketing focus to an online environment and implementing a solid business plan, you can make a plastic manufacturing business a success. Begin by coming up with a clear vision for the company. Work out what your missions and objectives are and get advice from consultants and experts in the industry. Second is to determine your niche – one key thing you need to think about is the kind of plastic you want to produce. You will not be able to come up with integral elements of your business plan like costings and marketing strategies until you choose your niche. Work towards gathering critical information like the types of machinery you will need, raw material components and the best place to procure them from. Always remember a good leader completes thorough research to determine product profitability. As a last piece of advice, I would strongly suggest that you learn about the production process – even though you will hire highly skilled experts to run the manufacturing facility, at the end of the day, you are the boss. So, you need to make sure you have the right knowledge about your industry. You should understand how the machinery works and know what the production process involves. There are many different types of technologies and methods used in the plastic manufacturing industry, so you will need to learn about injection moulding, extraction moulding, blow moulding and rotational moulding.

The methods of driving supply chains were not adequate for the unanticipated environment of Covid-19, including spikes in demand, partners that suddenly paused or ceased operations and sudden material and product shortages. We need to embrace technology a faster response. The pandemic exposed the need for (and shortage

Skipper Limited






Made in Steel 2023, the international Conference & Exhibition for the steel industry.







Monitoring subsea valve and pipeline condition more efficiently using advanced digital technology By Ivar Stange, senior engineer, 4Subsea

Subsea valves can face several detrimental issues over the course of their lifespan, and monitoring their condition in an effective, holistic and transparent manner can be challenging. Traditionally, engineers have used spreadsheets and static PDF logs to track and manage valve status and plan operations. However, there might be hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of valves on a subsea field. In addition, with a high degree of manual processes, managing the valve status process is time consuming and always a risk of human error, causing incorrect information. Typically, each valve register is documented in a single spreadsheet or in a document library. This has a master owner, but editable versions can lose their way when passed from pipeline and valve stakeholder to stakeholder. As a result, an accurate description of the condition of the valve may be lost. Such a workflow is fragile, therefore strict and detailed procedures must be maintained to ensure the documentation is always updated to provide required and correct information across all interested parties. This traditional way of handling the valve data can have huge implications on the engineer’s focus. While they would like to analyse the system and the readiness of any component, their focus is instead targeted on stewardship of data and being meticulous about not making any mistakes when gathering information from multiple sources. By digitising the valve condition monitoring process, 4Subsea, a leading provider of technology and services that help operators optimise energy production from subsea oil & gas fields and offshore wind farms, helps eliminate many of the pitfalls in the traditional process by providing stakeholders with easy and secure access to correct and relevant data by removing any discrepancies caused by manual work. Valve condition monitoring A subsea field in operation may have hundreds to thousands of mechanical valves operated by ROVs or divers. These valves are used to control the flow of fluid and can also act as crucial safety barriers to avoiding unwanted spills of hydrocarbons into the environment. Therefore, during subsea intervention work, replacements, or new tie-ins, it is imperative that they are correctly positioned and fit for purpose so that the barriers remain intact to ensure safe operations. While age is a general issue, how often valves are operated and the torque applied, are variables that also affect operationality. Mitigating actions can be taken to ensure that the applied torque necessary for a valve to operate does not exceed design limits and consequently damages the system. All valves have design limits, including operational

Figure 1: Valve system

or maximum torque, that they should not exceed before potentially being broken. Being able to track the critical developments over time, from when the valve was installed, will allow engineers to predict when increasing torque can damage or break the valve. In addition, condition monitoring allows maintenance to take place in due time or engineers to accurately consider whether to open or close the valve as it may be susceptible to failure mode. Another fact worth considering is the age of the valve, not just in terms of years but also in usage. While some may be turned on to one position when commissioned and not operated for several years – others are constantly being opened and closed and undertaking new operations. Workflow challenge Typically, the manual workflow performed today is that engineers report the valve status in separate text logs. Examples of statuses are whether they are open or closed, the torque being applied and the number of turns. Unfortunately, this input can be non-structured making it challenging to analyse and track history. Often, parameters may not even be documented, leaving engineers at a loss as they search through multiple PDF files and emails. The solution The ValveTrack solution is an easy-to-use digital service. The solution captures all relevant information, such as attribute data, operational history, documents and pictures, for the lifetime of the valves from the design to the last intervention



operation in the digital platform 4insight ® . This enables engineers to have a holistic overview, easily see the trends over time, and plan operations and adequate maintenance work in due time. In addition, this overview ensures alignment between all stakeholders working with valves and barriers in a user-friendly environment. The system will free up capacity for the engineers that previously spent time on managing the data to understand the situation better and a make decision based on easily available information. The simplified workflow and data management reduces the risk of errors and increases the quality of the data by making it transparent and easy to detect outliers. Consider a case where the operator is deliberating production optimisation. An upcoming operation requires the valve to be temporarily closed to increase the system’s overall production. By checking the past performance of the relevant valve, you may foresee a potential failure due to excessive torque being applied to operate it. Without a system giving you the holistic and complete history of your valve, you cannot find this information effectively, or it may not be found at all. Operating valves without the full status can cause malfunction, leading to devastating consequences. In a different scenario, the status of the valve back in time was unknown, and the most conservative assumption has been to presume the valve had been left open. This judgement reduced the expected lifetime of associated equipment. In addition, the amount of time required to sift through the unstructured information was deemed “not worth it” due to the amount of hand-written documentation to read. Rather than wasting days of engineering time manually reading through logs, the correct data could be found instantly in ValveTrack, providing accurate information, which may result in immense cost and time savings. How it works The ValveTrack digital service is built on the 4insight ® platform, which provides a secure and easy-to-use interface for data capturing, storing and web visualisation. The users always have easy access to the system at any location through a web browser. The access is field-specific, and while sharing the data is easy, the information is always secure. Many corporations have their own IT infrastructure, so 4insight ® also facilitates sharing of information through application programming interfaces (APIs), as this is part of 4Subsea’s standard solution and is a key benefit of the ValveTrack technology. As a result, operators are free to hook onto any stream of raw or processed data and share information with colleagues to discuss and solve problems. 4Subsea’s 4insight ® platform, on which ValveTrack is built, is first and foremost, a digital service providing key decision support to energy operators. The technology enables domain experts to collect large amounts of data and create new insight based on analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Users can choose from a large selection of readily available applications running on the platform and can easily collect and share relevant information where it is needed. In addition, the system enables engineers to do analytics and build their own applications on the same data.

Figure 2: A typical manual workflow

Figure 3: ValveTrack‘s new digitised workflow

Essentially, operators can run the algorithm they require through the service, allowing operators flexibility and to turn their own data into valuable insights. The architecture behind 4insight ® is designed to receive and compute large amounts of data, unlocking its true potential to ensure the best possible decision support for the users. In addition to digital twins of the valves, the system can host an array of other assets such as wells, flowlines, risers and vessels. As a result, the platform helps operators improve data quality and manage the ownership, security, sharing and use of data while simultaneously reducing operational costs and risk. 4insight ® is a multi-tenant solution residing in Microsoft Azure. The future 4Subsea aim to make 4insight ® the leading self-service digital platform for subsea engineers and data scientists. The ValveTrack technology will develop further and incorporate further APIs and build in a planner feature, which will further improve the workflow between engineers of different companies working with the same set of valves. In the specific case of ValveTrack, the technology enables operators and engineers to gauge, analyse and utilise data at lightning speed compared to what has previously been possible. Moreover, with the valve operation management process optimised, the benefits of digitising work processes in the sector are palpable.




At the heArt of the wire And tube industries for 40 yeArs our history at a glance Intras Ltd – independent publishers of Tube & Pipe Technology, Wire & Cable ASIA, EuroWire and Tube Products INTERNATIONAL magazines and wiredInUSA website – has a proud tradition of supporting the wire, cable, tube and pipe industries since the 1980s. With an unrivalled global distribution in both print and digital formats, we have a firm belief in supporting businesses through combining editorial excellence and targeted advertising to reach the far corners of the globe.

John Hogg, founder of Intras Ltd, was also a co-founder of the International Wire & Machinery Association (IWMA) and the International Tube Association (ITA). 1970s

Intras Ltd is founded by John Hogg as a management company to administrate the activities of IWMA and ITA trade associations. Intras begins to create a worldwide database of companies and products involved in the wire, cable, tube and pipe industries. 1984




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