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Welded Joint vs. the Bolted Joint

Because Joint Integrity has never mattered more, it has to be Hydratight

March 26, 2014
Hydratight, the market leading joint integrity assurance company supports recent changes to bolting standards. 
 
Joint integrity is the cornerstone of safe and leak-free operations and proper assembly is one of the primary factors integral to the integrity of a bolted joint. Up until now bolting technicians haven’t been held to the same competence standards as welders, whose work is directly comparable in terms of its objectives. For example, when comparing bolted joints to welded joints in the oil and gas industry, standards are very different even though they are holding back the same process conditions and pose a similar risk. 
 
However, things are beginning to change, and 2013 proved to be a landmark year for those concerned with the management and assembly of bolted joints as two major standards were published highlighting the requirements for competent bolting. 
 
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) updated the 2010 PCC-1 ‘Guidelines for Pressure Boundary Bolted Flange Joint Assembly’ - this now includes an appendix defining the requirements for training and qualification of technicians working in the field of bolted joints. 
 
In addition to this, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) re-published EN1591 Part 4 with modifications. This is now referred to as ‘Flanges and their Joints - Part 4: Qualification of personnel competency in assembly of the bolted connections of critical service pressurized systems’. 
 
Neil Ferguson, Hydratight’s Joint Integrity Leader for North and South America commented: "This is excellent news for the industry and something that Hydratight has been committed to for a very long time. As a business we have been providing formally qualified and competent bolting craft personnel since 1994, during this time, all personnel have undertaken classroom training, followed by practical workshops and examination before being permitted to work in the field on live projects." 
 
Through the publications of these new standards, ASME has effectively offered the industry an opportunity to assemble and assure bolted joints in the same ways as the welded joint. Like the welded joint, field personnel will have to prove their competency every three years, document their activities using pre-approved procedures and traceable bolt loads and maintain a permanent record for future reference. As long as these standards are rigorously followed, the industry can expect significant payback; reduced leaks, improved safety performance, projects built or returned to service on schedule and within budget. 
 
Neil added: "We welcome these latest updates to industry standards, we believe that bolted joints are just as critical as welded connections and should be treated in exactly the same way. As a result, over the years, we have developed training and competency programs for our own internal technicians and customers so that all bolting operations are carried out with an uncompromising approach to safety. Added to this, we also offer comprehensive training programs to the general market ensuring that we are imparting the knowledge to improve the overall safety of plants." 
 
Hydratight is also pleased to confirm that a third party audit is ongoing by LRQA to confirm that the comprehensive operational procedures and technician competency development and management programs we have in place are compliant to the new ASME PCC-1-2013 guidelines. LRQA will formally validate our policies and procedures and upon successful completion of the audit Hydratight will be the first company to achieve the external accreditation of the new standards. 
 
This provides clients with assurance that when selecting Hydratight to handle their bolting and Joint Integrity Assurance programs they are working with a company that complies and exceeds all of the requirements of the ASME PCC-1-2013 guidelines.


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