THE STORY OF FIKE’S 42-INCH RD500 ATLAS® RUPTURE DISC
During the 1970s, Fike produced several reverse-acting RKB rupture discs to protect the steam turbines of a power generation facility in Canada.
After decades of reliable use, the client discovered that the knife-blade technologies of yesteryear had challenges of maintaining weld integrity between the blade and holder as well as the developing of cracks in the knife blades over time.
“In this customer’s case, the cost to maintain the knife blades and the time required to repair the corroded, cracked and otherwise out-of-specification blades had become a burden,” said Michael Krebill, Manager of Mechanical Engineering at Fike.
Fike’s capabilities and technologies have drastically improved since the 1970s, and the product development team believed they had the perfect solution for this particular application. However, this premium rupture disc had yet to be manufactured at these higher pressures for the 42-inch reverse-acting disc application.
Fike’s capabilities and technologies have drastically improved since the 1970s
Tony Ashton, Fike Canada’s Operations Manager, told the client they could trust Fike, as they had for nearly 50 years.
“I told them we felt like we had a solution, and we were interested in pursuing it for them,” Ashton said. “We work with them pretty closely, so they have a level of trust in us. I think they were happy knowing this was something we would look at more closely before we agreed to take the order.”
The pressure relief product development team immediately got to work. Preengineered data was reviewed, calculations were performed, and equipment and hardware were examined to validate the demands of withstanding the increased stress needed for producing such a large, high-pressure disc. They determined the ideal rupture disc for this client’s application was the RD500 ATLAS®, one of Fike’s premium rupture discs manufactured with G2 technology.
It’s reverse acting, which is inherently vacuum resistant and offers higher operating ratios and cycle life. It’s capable of achieving high burst pressures in large sizes, such as the more than 100 psi required by the power generation facility’s application. Its opening feature is milled, a Fike-patented technology which supports tight burst tolerances and overall rupture disc reliability and performance.
And finally, G2 manufacturing means many of the process variables (such as size, thickness and burst pressure) used to develop the rupture discs have been “pre-engineered,” making the development process for this specific application solution a quick task.
The Fike team hadn’t yet developed nor supplied a 42-inch ATLAS at more than 75 psi burst pressure, but they knew it was possible by scaling the other sizes within the pre-engineered platform.
Possibility quickly became reality. The Fike team requested a little more time to confirm its predictions prior to issuing a firm quotation and underwent a validation test plan. Within two weeks of receiving the RFQ, an engineering development unit of the specific 42-inch ATLAS was manufactured and underwent validation testing to ensure its performance could be promised to the customer. The team succeeded, proposed the solution and was awarded
with a PO for two positions of protection that will be delivered Q1 2020.
Krebill said this project was an example of how Fike prides itself on developing long-lasting relationships with its clients built around trust.
“We don’t want to be a manufacturer that just says anything to get the order and then determines if it can be done, or worse yet, applies the wrong solution,” Krebill said. “That just strings the customer along, and if we don’t produce the right solution, and the customer doesn’t know it until the product fails, how much does that cost them? And were lives put in danger?
“The beauty in this story is we’ve been with this customer for decades, and we are evolving with them. As their demands have changed over the years, so too have Fike’s capabilities.”
One of the major components of G2 technology is its pre-engineered manufacturing process. By using this technology, a number of rupture disc variables— including minimum and maximum burst pressures, material thickness and depths of the opening feature— have already been pre-engineered and pre-calculated. Therefore, a Fike G2 rupture disc with nearly any combination of variables may be quickly manufactured with maximum reliability and repeatability. We discussed the implications of pre-engineered technologies with Fike Application Manager Alan McQueen and Mechanical Engineering Manager Michael Krebill.
|Michael Krebill||Alan McQueen|
|Mechanical Engineering Manager||Application Manager|
Would producing the 42-inch ATLAS® have been possible without pre-engineered solutions?
Not as quickly. Without our pre-engineered design and validation approach, what would happen is each time we received an order, the solution would only address that specific order’s requirement. We would lose the opportunity to address a bigger solution for future orders while also proving out the performance of a platform. With each order, it would feel like starting over.
But by using the pre-engineered platform approach, it creates an ever-growing product line, providing solutions for customer applications that have yet to be requested. That’s why a long time ago we invested time with the design and money in tooling and equipment to enable the use of a pre- engineered process approach. By making the investment, we were quickly ready to solve the 42” issue.
How would you say pre-engineered solutions benefits Fike clients?
Speed. We’ve produced so many G2 rupture discs in various sizes and burst pressures that if someone asks for the lead time on a disc within the developed envelope, the answer is, “You will have the product as quickly as you can produce the holders.”
When I started working on large diameter disc applications, we would spend days dreaming of what might we be able to do to meet all of the customer requirements. Today, with the pre-engineered manufacturing process, it takes about 10 seconds. We just need the size, pressure and material. The work that Michael and his development team have done when we started down this path with large diameters has allowed us to “plot the corners” of this capability parallelogram. What’s the minimum validated burst pressure of the smaller size? What the maximum validated burst pressure in that size? Let’s use that as a basis for whatever is in the box of our demonstrated capabilities, and go for it. And we had 99 percent confidence that we could achieve it within that range, and in a timely manner.
The beauty is we don’t just go and develop your order. We go and develop that entire thickness. That means for future orders, we don’t have to recalculate everything. We now have that whole solution set as a basis, and just need to run validation tests to ensure the product does what we say it will do.
That’s another beauty of G2 technology: It’s additive. So every time we receive a new order or develop the product line in a new size, we then uncover another big segment of development and validation that stretches our capabilities even further, so we can respond faster and ship sooner.
Do you have a problem in pressure relief? Or a question about Fike’s pressure relief capabilities?