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Test rig to boost efficiency and safety

A bespoke spring test rig, designed and built by CMA Electro-Hydraulic Engineers, will improve accuracy, maintenance efficiency, safety, and plant performance for one of Australia’s leading steel manufacturers.

A bespoke spring test rig, designed and built by CMA Electro-Hydraulic Engineers, will improve accuracy, maintenance efficiency, safety, and plant performance for one of Australia’s leading steel manufacturers.

The doors on the gas storage facility at the steel plant are kept closed for safety by a series of springs fixed around the perimeter. The gas is stored at a relatively high pressure, and these springs hold the door closed so if the pressure rises within the storage vessel, the springs will allow the door to open and release the pressure.

The correct spring force is vital.  If the gas pressure increases and the springs are over-force, the doors will be held closed – with catastrophic results downstream of the operation. Alternatively, if the door springs are under-force gas will leak into the atmosphere and the plant will lose some of the product.

As part of the site’s planned maintenance program each one of the door springs is tested regularly.  Traditionally, this has involved testing each spring manually using a level arm assembly – and with approximately 100 springs per door, the testing process would require days.

CMA’s solution was a hydraulic powered spring force assembly test rig with capacity for up to six springs simultaneously.

Designed and built by CMA, the test rig will accommodate the 10 different types of springs used in the gas storage plant.  The springs vary in diameter and length – from 200mm long x 35mm in diameter to 120mm long x 50mm in diameter.

They are all manufactured from approximately 10mm high tensile wire, which makes them very stiff.  A series of test parameters, directly relating to the range of springs in the gas plant, has been pre-loaded into the test rig and works in conjunction with the testing procedure.

To test, a spring is positioned under a cylinder.  The appropriate colour-coded adapters are fitted to the top and bottom of each spring to align and retain the spring during testing.

The cylinder rod descends and compresses the spring. All springs are simultaneously cyclically loaded to establish a baseline condition/force. Position and pressure sensors on each cylinder provide an accurate reading of the spring force – to plus or minus 0.25 per cent of the nameplate force.

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