Posted at 10 February 2021

When ERIKS provide initial support to project management - and everything in between

Paul Skade
By Andy Silver
Customer Service Director

I joined ERIKS in 2009 as Managing Director for the Automotive Division (later to become Transportation). In 2013 I led the New Business Team as Commercial & ...

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In some projects, the least important role a supplier plays is supplying components or products. Instead, what makes one supplier stand out from another is the support and expertise they provide. So when a sustainable palm oil producer decided to build a substantial storage tank facility on Merseyside, ERIKS was right by their side – from initial design proposals to aftersales, and through all the project management in-between.

 

The customer is a subsidiary of the world’s largest producer of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. Regular shipments from Papua New Guinea are currently offloaded for storage in tanks on a site next to the customer’s own. Tank rental – at close to £20,000,000 per annum – is a substantial cost, so the customer decided to build their own on-site tanks.

Not just one or two tanks, but a total of 16 with a combined capacity of 54,800m3.

Having on-site storage capacity is not only about saving on rent. As a palm oil producer committed to a traceable, sustainable supply chain, it’s essential for the customer to have storage tanks where there’s no danger of the product being mixed with oil from other sources.

 

ERIKS Flow & Equipment Services have worked closely with the customer as an MRO partner for several years. So they were a natural fit with the customer’s Project Engineers and Procurement Team for the tank farm project.

FEED for thought

The initial Front End Engineering Design (FEED) Study began in February 2017.

One of the requirements identified was for actuated ball valve packages. As ERIKS already supplied valves and actuators to the site, the customer had confidence in asking them for advice and support in specifying the new packages. These will be assembled and tested in ERIKS’ Leicester workshop, before shipment to the customer’s site.

 

However, as a supplier with know-how, ERIKS has done more than simply match the spec.

The ERIKS Flow & Equipment Services local Application Engineer, together with an ERIKS Project Team, closely considered the customer’s requirements, and proposed a competitive solution with significant added-value engineering design features.

No added salt

Firstly, ERIKS recommended ECON (part of the ERIKS Group) for the supply of turnkey flow control solutions. But rather than simply specifying a standard product – high-quality and reliable as it may be – ERIKS looked at the customer’s specific application.

The storage tanks are being built on the banks of the River Mersey. This exposed location close to the sea puts the tanks’ associated components at significant risk of corrosion from salt in the atmosphere. Actuators in standard aluminium enclosures would soon be badly affected.

ERIKS’ solution is to apply an epoxy coating to all the actuators, for exceptional corrosion resistance – resulting in a far longer service life.

Crossing the T’s

Palm oil has to be stored and transported at an elevated temperature to avoid solidification. This means all pipework entering and leaving the storage tanks must be lagged.

However lagging increases the diameter of the pipe systems. And, what could easily be overlooked, is that this in turn reduces clearance between the pipes and the operating levers for manual valves. ERIKS’ experience made them aware that this isn’t just inconvenient for operators but, with restricted space between pipes and levers, presents a potential health and safety risk, with a danger of trapped hands or fingers, or burns.

ERIKS’ solution was to incorporate T-bar extensions into the manually-operated actuator designs, to create safe and adequate clearance for the operators.

Switch and save

With over 500 switchboxes on site, any issues they have can quickly become a major problem. ERIKS’ involvement in the tank farm project offered the perfect opportunity to resolve a long-standing problem for the customer.

The switchboxes were acting like greenhouses, causing condensation to build up inside. With electrics in close proximity this frequently led to electrical failures, and the switchboxes had to be replaced repeatedly.

Working in partnership with Pepperl+Fuchs, ERIKS proposed a valve open/close sensor, which removed the need for switchboxes, eliminated the cause of the repeated failures,  and meant significant savings on replacement costs.

Complete package deal

ERIKS’ involvement with this customer started long before the tank farm project, and will continue long afterwards.

 

From their initial role as an MRO partner, ERIKS’ experience, expertise and knowledge of the customer’s requirements led to a close working relationship on the project, and an order for 128 actuated ball valve packages from ECON, worth over £¼m.

The customer also appreciates knowing that ERIKS will be around for the long-term as a valued and trusted MRO supplier: providing aftersales, spares, and maintenance support. After all, as a producer of sustainable palm oil, the customer wants a working relationship that’s going to be sustainable too, long after the current project is completed.

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