Many of the problems that challenge bolt reliability in the industry today come from a lack of knowledge and communication. Steel is formed by one company, purchased by another, sent to yet another for coating by uncontrolled processes, then shipped to sites in low-quality boxes with no protection or consideration for bolt integrity. The box label may contain markings that relate back to their origins, but the fasteners inside are not identified. When the bolts inevitably fail, there is no way to know which applications are currently using bolts from the same batch so they can be pulled from service, burdening the turnaround operations with the responsibility of replacing the bolts as quickly as they can under stressful conditions that lead to simple yet costly mistakes.
This is the way things have been done for decades, but with the coming of standards like API 20E, the industry is asking fasteners to do better. The method exists to produce bolts that are traceable from the mill to the field, and bolting systems that provide this feature will give facilities the advantage when it comes to operational efficiency, cost savings, and safety.
Accountability Requires Traceability
API 20E is a specification designed to offer a third party audit. As part of specification compliance, API 20E certified companies are required to keep records that document every step of production, from overarching standards such as ASTM specification numbers to minute details like personnel qualifications. To maintain API 20E compliance, fastener companies must produce and keep records from each batch of fasteners for a minimum of 10 years. This way, if there is ever a problem with its field performance, a bolt can be traced to its origins and the production process can be re-audited to detect any issues that may have caused the failure.
ASTM B994 suggests that each production lot be individually marked so that information about your fasteners can be accessed at all times. One of the biggest issues contributing to bolt failure in the past has been a lack of information regarding which bolts are nearing the end of their life. With a manufacturer’s mark suggested by ASTM B994, safety and maintenance crews can quickly identify a fastener’s origin and request testing data from the fastener company. This also allows crews to report field failures quickly and to track down the rest of the production lot in service before further incident. When evaluating a company selling ASTM B994 bolts, ask if they have a traceable marking system.
Where it Is, Where it’s Been, and Where it’s Going
For Doxsteel Fasteners, traceability starts at the nut and the bolt. Every part we coat with ASTM B994 Nickel-Cobalt electroplating is stamped with a traceability mark that corresponds to its production batch. Whether the bolt is sitting in the warehouse or in service on a flange, the traceability mark can be instantly used to reference the bolting Material Test Report (MTR) and track the fastener’s location on a site. When coupled with ASTM B994 Class 1 evaluations such as the Fastener End of Life Test (FELT), customers are continually in the know about their bolting performance. When a bolt nears the end of its life cycle, this number can help a facility locate the rest of its production batch at a glance and schedule quick, targeted turnaround operations before thread engagement is compromised.
Savings, Science, and Safety with Doxsteel Fasteners
At Doxsteel Fasteners, we promise to deliver the most reliable bolting solution that can be traced to its production batch wherever it is in service. With a complete fastener inventory manufactured following API 20E and ASTM B994, both downstream and offshore facilities have the opportunity to revolutionize their bolting practices by predicting fastener life cycles, saving time, money, and lives.
To see how Doxsteel Fasteners can give your operations a truly traceable bolt, contact us today.