The smart choice
Although HCL Fasteners provides a complete range of clamping solutions, both metal and plastic, within the offshore oil and gas market the company is best known for its unique patented polymer based strapping Smart Band product range.
With an offshore track record now in excess of 15 years the Smart Band product range is now established, respected and often specified into projects as the ideal clamping or strapping solution. Most recently HCL has seen the Smart Band 3/4″ or 19mm system specified into two very large pile protection contracts, one in New York (FDR project) and one in Thailand with Thai Oil.
The challenges that HCL faces never change and with an understandably conservative and cautious offshore oil and gas industry it is often challenging to get engineers to consider specifying the Smart Band instead of the more commonly used CRA solutions, such as titanium or Alloy 625 strap or the Kevlar clamps. However, invariably once Smart Band is tried and proven very few return to the common solutions.
But what is it exactly that makes the Smart Band so attractive to the offshore market and why is it considered an alternative to common band and buckle clamping solutions? The reasons are surprisingly extensive.
Firstly there is the issue of long life. CRA alternatives have understandably been around much longer, and therefore have a proven track record, so it is imperative that the Smart Band can be supplied in a polymer that also offers a proven track record. This is where the Rilsan Nylon 11 material comes into play, offering an extensive track record in the offshore environment. HCL has also announced that the Smart Band will soon be available in the very similar polymer Nylon 12, which has a similar extensive offshore track record.
Secondly there is the issue of technical support for the product. One visit to the company’s website, www.hclfasteners.com, shows that HCL takes this area seriously. The site is full of extensive technical documents, including the main technical booklet with over 30 pages of design advice, strength, piggyback loading, creep, and chemical resistance data. The website also has a number of very helpful installation instruction videos.
Thirdly is the product itself. The patented design, which includes a hybrid polymer buckle and band reinforced by glass fibre cords, results in a strength and retention capability that rivals the metallic alternatives. Combine this with the inherently safer nature of the product and it’s ease of fitting, and the Smart Band can be seen as the perfect solution.
There are so many other features about this product that make it such an attractive option. It offers not only a very competitive but stable price structure and a full range of installation tools, including the brand new SM-1000-PS torque shut off range, which provides a very high level of control upon installation.
Finally the most common question that HCL receives is that of reference. The question of “where has it been used before?” has been answered emphatically over the past ten years. Sales director Peter Coles states: “As with many companies we have found getting into the offshore oil and gas industry has been a tremendous challenge, but over the past ten years we have successfully sold it into numerous projects around the world. We have sold to all types of companies for all types of applications.” Where possible HCL tries to collect track record information for the Smart Band and over 30 known projects with photographs and application information can be found on its website. The range of use is extensive but the Smart Band is now proven in those applications that commonly use banding products, such as piggyback pipe lay, subsea repair, pile protection, subsea marker/sign attachment, sensor attachment, flotation products, VIV strakes and many others. These projects can be found work wide in various offshore environments at various depths offshore.
Considering what the future holds for HCL and the Smart Band managing director David Coles states: “We see the Smart Band product range as the future of the company. Over the years we have become experienced in the needs of the offshore clamping environment and we are striving to improve the product range in a number of areas. Firstly we have the issue of nylon 12, which allows us to increase our competitive offering in the market place, secondly we are currently working on a number of new products to add to the range, and finally and most importantly we hope to have the full product range DNV certified/approved in the next 12 months. For HCL the future is Smart Band.”
Products: Clamping and strapping solutions