Vard finds the perfect fit

Source: press release, 10 November 2020

illustration: Pipeotech
illustration: Pipeotech

Norwegian-based shipbuilder Vard has been installing Pipeotech’s DeltaV-Seal in its vessels since 2016 and the cost-saving benefits have been very clear to Johny Morland, Principal Engineer, QA and Standardisation at the Fincantieri-owned company.

Vard is known for building specialised, cutting-edge vessels and its approach means it pays close attention to innovation and high quality from its suppliers.

The company uses the DeltaV-Seal from Norway’s Pipeotech in large steam systems for its expedition cruise ships, of which it has built 10 to date.

Morland highlights the significant cost saving in man hours at the commissioning stage for these vessels as being a key factor in why Vard has chosen this particular gasket.

“Before we started to use the DeltaV-Seal we did not have so many projects requiring such big steam systems as we have now on these kinds of vessels,” says Morland. “We saw that as a challenge with this kind of system as we know about the problem of leakage in steam systems.”

“The steam system is a very difficult system to manage without leakage. During commissioning we start and shut down this system repeatedly, so it will be heated up and cooled down over and over again and the material will expand and contract many times… it’s a very big challenge for the material. Typically, in the past during these types of commissioning periods, we experienced difficulties with leakage, so by selecting the DeltaV-Seal we believe this can be sorted,” Morland continues.

Any leakage at the commissioning stage for Vard can become a very expensive problem to troubleshoot and resolve, involving many lost man hours and costing many thousands of dollars. “It’s very time consuming to repair any leakage from a gasket as you have many hundreds of connections to check,” adds Morland.

Changing priorities
Morland and Vard put great emphasis on getting the most efficient, durable and reliable seal they can, and as a result priorities at the procurement stage have changed over the last few years.

Procurement offices once saw gaskets as a low priority item in the overall system and would shave a hundred dollars off prices, but then costs could run into many thousands of dollars later in lost man hours at the commissioning stage when chasing leakages.

“It is a mistake to only look into a price list. In the end, maybe the cheapest is the most expensive, and we have learned this lesson many times now,” adds Morland. “There are many more parameters than just the buying price.”

In addition to the significant cost savings brought by using the DeltaV-Seal, Morland also highlights the safety issue for Vard during the commissioning process, where standards have to be at their highest at all times. Trust in the DeltaV-Seal is important.

Pipeotech’s DeltaV-Seal is designed to never leak, or to deteriorate. The unit is a one-piece gasket made from the same metal as the flanges it mates with.

The steam systems Vard builds for its expedition cruise vessels create fluctuating temperatures that directly affect key components such as gaskets. It is vital for Vard that these parts maintain their integrity at all times in this challenging environment.

Pipeotech’s DeltaV-Seal expands and contracts in unity with the flange forming a perfect match, unlike other ductile seals not made from the same material as the flange. The DeltaV-Seal is different.

Wide appeal
Morland sees Pipeotech’s innovation as having a wider appeal beyond building companies such as Vard. He sees the DeltaV-Seal as being so durable and with such a long lifespan it can dramatically reduce maintenance costs for ship and installation owners over many years of operations beyond any construction yard warranty period. The seal itself has a 10-year guarantee from Pipeotech.

“It is a real positive for Pipeotech making such a reliable and dependable seal,” says Morland. “So because we are choosing this seal for those reasons, we are putting it into our ships at the building stage, so then the shipowner can look at that years later and then say ‘hey our maintenance costs have come down because of this system that Vard has built’, and so our reputation at Vard is enhanced and Pipeotech gets more noticed.”

Morland believes this element of durability in Pipeotech’s product and the trust that it can build will lead to ship owners insisting on the DeltaV-Seal being put into their design construction specifications in future. “If the shipowner knows more about this then they will put this in the specification for the ship – that they want this particular gasket because they want to cut maintenance costs after they take the ship,” says Morland.

“But of course the standard of seal in our steam systems also affects our reputation, so that if we can deliver something that can remain in use for 10 years more than our competitors it is a good reason for ship owners to come back to build another vessel with us,” says Morland.

So it seems the partnership between Vard and Pipeotech is sealed as a perfect fit for now, perhaps as tight as the DeltaV-Seal itself.