A call to arms: the latest in loading arm technology

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Martin Dicke Kuenitz, Emco Wheaton GmbH, speaks with Port Technology International

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PTI sat down recently with Mr Kuenitz to talk about the latest in loading arm technology.

What types of loading arms are available and what kind of bulk products are they used for?

Emco Wheaton manufactures all types and sizes of loading arms from 2” smaller arms aimed at trucks and rail for example, up to 20” arms, aimed at sea going and river barges and large tankers. These include loading arms for whisky, beer and foodstuffs, as well as for hazardous chemicals such as hydrochloric, sulphuric and HF acids. We include a range for LNG, ethylene, cryogenic and anything fluid.
 

There is a growing demand for higher product loading. What are the developments you have undergone to address the possible side effects of increased demand, i.e. spillage etc?

Provided they are well designed and maintained, spillage is not an issue with our MLA. We are seeing the trend towards bigger LNG and crude oil tankers, therefore ports have to be designed properly to meet this need. The current trend is still on 12”-16” arms with large tankers off-loading to smaller tankers, but we have already begun work on our 20” arms as more companies look to larger tankers to call directly into ports or terminals.

The common theme with critical products such as LNG or ethylene, are high standards of safety. What do your loading arms offer in regards to greater operational safety?

Our loading arms are always designed with the EPC contractor and terminal owner in order to properly address the different conditions of their facilities and their needs. In one instance, we did LNG testing for Shell using our swivel joint, and due to the connectivity it allows, the results proved that it fulfilled the safety criteria required. Another equally important component to this is the control unit. This is particularly important for plant or loading arm safety. If, say, the loading arm provokes an ESD, then the entire safety system necessary to safeguard the safety of the terminal and personnel would shut down.
 

In gusty and wind prone areas, what key elements do you incorporate to guarantee a high level of safety and reliability?

Part of our division is currently designing 4 16” loading arms, which will be hurricane and cyclone proof, handling up to 200 mile/hour winds. These arms would be ideal for use in high seismic areas.
 

With the dramatic increase in environmental regulations, what have you done to ensure your equipment helps them fulfil these?

With loading arms, flanges are potential sources of failure. We have designed, tested and proved that our loading arms have minimal leakage. There are a number of factors that influence this i.e. contaminated product with a high level of abrasion which destroys the seals and cause leakage.
 

What are some future developments for Emco Wheaton?

We offer various packages and what is also defined as preventative maintenance. We will have security integrated into the system and offer PLC redundancy and many other control systems.

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