Alpha’s Marine ERC achieves the respected SIL 2 for safety and reliability

Published:  07 September, 2018

Alpha Process Controls reports it has achieved a globally-recognised standard for its Marine Emergency Release Coupling, which demonstrates the safety-integrity and reliability of the technology.

Following an extensive testing and assessment programme, the Marine ERC has achieved the Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 certification in respect of its consistent ability to prevent loss of product during the transfer of hazardous materials including LNG fuel.

Employing a mechanical rather than hydraulic release activation, the Marine ERC features a two-stage operation that enables the controlled shutdown of internal valves and the coupling separation. The ERC coupling can be operated mechanically or through a remote operator activated switch.

The ERC can be specified with a pre-ESD1 alarm, which detects ship separation, and can be linked to the ship’s ESD1 shutdown process. This safety feature complements the ERC’s innovative, inbuilt damping system to reduce the effects of pressure spikes should the coupling be called upon to separate during full flow transfer. This would typically occur in the case of a vessel drifting off during LNG transfer.

Having already secured Class approval, the Marine ERC, which is available in sizes from 4-to-10 inch diameter, and also meets BS EN 1474-1 (2008) Installation and equipment for liquefied natural gas - Design and testing of marine transfer systems. This recognised industry standard further demonstrates the efficacy of the system.

The assessment and certification was undertaken by UK consultancy Technis, led by Dr David J Smith, BSc, PhD, CEng, FIEE, FIQA, HonFSaRS, MIGasE. With more than 40 years’ experience in reliability and risk assessment and technical training courses. A past President of the Safety and Reliability Society, David chairs the IGEM (Chartered Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers) panel, which develops guidelines on safety-related systems, and was a founder member of the Safety Critical Systems Committee of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now IET).

He has amassed one of the largest failure rate and failure mode data banks in the reliability profession and has developed six unique software packages which provide reliability data, reliability calculations and optimum maintenance strategies.

Alpha Process Controls’ coupling systems are deployed across ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and bunkering applications and build upon its extensive industry experience.

Part of the Knorr-Bremse Group-owned GT Group, Alpha Process Controls is a pioneer of Emergency Release Collar technology for couplings and has been at the forefront of the hazardous liquids transfer sector for more than 40 years.

From its base in North East England, the company designs, manufactures and installs the systems, along with loading arms and loading skids, which are supplied to its international client base that includes Shell, BP and Exxon.

John Lamb, Managing Director of Alpha Process Controls, said: “Achieving the SIL 2 rating further underpins the reliability of our Marine ERC, giving operators additional confidence that our technology can safely and reliably be part of ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore LNG transfers.

“It is testament to the expertise of our designers and engineers, alongside our extensive and continual research and development programmes that we have achieved such a respected reliability performance standard.”

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