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Sustainability and digitalization as key elements for AM adoption in the oil & gas valves industry

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Organized by VALVEcampus, a webinar held on July 28th, 2020 focused on the topics of digitalization and sustainability in additive manufacturing (AM). The online event was introduced by Miss Virginia Polito Agazzi, the Organizing Secretary of VALVEcampus, which is the Italian Association of oil & gas valves manufacturers hosting the event.

Supply chain management, along with production and storage of spare parts, represents something of a sticking point for the global oil & gas industry. Spare and replacement parts have traditionally been stored on shelves in warehouses after having been produced alongside the components used in the original production assemblies.

The long delivery time of spare parts can cause significant downtime and rating costs for a petroleum or natural gas plant. The topic of digitalization was the main point presented by the first speaker, Brede Laerum, Head of AM strategy and Implementation at Equinor. Brede explained his company’s ambitious goals to create a digital inventory and a digital supply chain by 2028. The implementation of AM plays a crucial role in these plans. Laerum showed that Equinor supports the net-zero target and AM can significantly contribute to bringing CO₂ emissions in the production process down to industry-leading levels. He showed the promising results of the research conducted in collaboration with Aidro hydraulics & 3D printing on the comparison between the CO2 emission equivalent generated by the conventional production and the additive manufacturing.

Oil & gas valves

The case study starts from a traditional hydraulic manifold made using a casting process, to analyze the 3D printed manifold as a one-to-one copy of the conventional part to arrive at the re-designed manifold with AM by Aidro. The CO2 emission equivalent is reducing by 80% from the conventional part to the re-designed one. This study was conducted by a student at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and sponsored by Equinor. Brede concluded his presentation showing many 3D printed parts both in metal and polymers which are a starting point of the company’s strategy for implementation of AM and digitalization.

The transition to digital inventory and on-site, on-demand spare parts production requires validation through each steps of the supply chain. This workflow requires a careful examination and the establishment of new best practices, as explained by David Hardacre, AM Lead Specialist at Lloyd’s Register. He explained that the most critical points are linked to the Qualification of additive manufacturing materials, systems, processes and operators.  David talked about different standards and requirements used in different sectors.

Valeria Tirelli, CEO of Aidro hydraulics & 3D printing, spoke about sustainability in additive manufacturing. Her speech focused on 3 points: AM advantages in products such as lightweight (less material means less energy), higher efficiency; AM advantages in reducing CO2 emission and gas treatment processes; and AM advantages in the circular economy project which aims to create new parts using recycled material from decommissioning of old plants.

Carlo De Bernardi, Global Production Valves SME at ConocoPhillips, is also the Chairman of API 20S, the American Petroleum Institute task group for the definition of minimum requirements of use of AM in petroleum and natural gas industry. He described the work of API 20S activity on the definition of AM materials, systems and processes requirements to guarantee the correct use in the oil&gas plants. Another discussed point is the intellectual property security. An interesting discussion panel followed with questions from the audience.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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