GB2576558A - Jig assembly and method of use thereof - Google Patents

Jig assembly and method of use thereof Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2576558A
GB2576558A GB1813785.1A GB201813785A GB2576558A GB 2576558 A GB2576558 A GB 2576558A GB 201813785 A GB201813785 A GB 201813785A GB 2576558 A GB2576558 A GB 2576558A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
tubular
connector
jig assembly
spacer
spacers
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Pending
Application number
GB1813785.1A
Other versions
GB201813785D0 (en
Inventor
Perrie Archibald
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Oil States Industries UK Ltd
Original Assignee
Oil States Industries UK Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Oil States Industries UK Ltd filed Critical Oil States Industries UK Ltd
Priority to GB1813785.1A priority Critical patent/GB2576558A/en
Publication of GB201813785D0 publication Critical patent/GB201813785D0/en
Publication of GB2576558A publication Critical patent/GB2576558A/en
Pending legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K37/00Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups
    • B23K37/04Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work
    • B23K37/053Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work aligning cylindrical work; Clamping devices therefor
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K37/00Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups
    • B23K37/04Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work
    • B23K37/0426Fixtures for other work
    • B23K37/0435Clamps
    • B23K37/0443Jigs
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K37/00Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups
    • B23K37/04Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K37/00Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups
    • B23K37/04Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work
    • B23K37/0417Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work for spherical work
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K37/00Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups
    • B23K37/04Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work
    • B23K37/053Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work aligning cylindrical work; Clamping devices therefor
    • B23K37/0533Auxiliary devices or processes, not specially adapted to a procedure covered by only one of the preceding main groups for holding or positioning work aligning cylindrical work; Clamping devices therefor external pipe alignment clamps
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K2101/00Articles made by soldering, welding or cutting
    • B23K2101/04Tubular or hollow articles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K2101/00Articles made by soldering, welding or cutting
    • B23K2101/24Frameworks
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23KSOLDERING OR UNSOLDERING; WELDING; CLADDING OR PLATING BY SOLDERING OR WELDING; CUTTING BY APPLYING HEAT LOCALLY, e.g. FLAME CUTTING; WORKING BY LASER BEAM
    • B23K2101/00Articles made by soldering, welding or cutting
    • B23K2101/28Beams

Abstract

A jig assembly 400 suitable for aligning and spacing apart tubulars comprising; i) at least a first tubular spacer 401 and a second tubular spacer 402, and, ii) at least a first connecting beam 405 extending from the first to the second tubular spacers, wherein each of the first and second tubular spacers comprises a first end and a second end at opposite ends of the tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the first or second tubular spacer. The first and second tubular spacers are arranged to be fixable in position relative to each other by the first connecting beam. Each of the first and second tubular spacers has a first connector element for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration being connectable to the existing tubular configuration. The jig assembly may comprise connecting beams with a telescoping section for adjusting the length of the connecting beam. A second aspect is directed towards a method of use of the jig assembly of the first aspect.

Description

JIG ASSEMBLY AND METHOD OF USE THEREOF
The present invention relates to a jig assembly for use during fabrication and/or assembly of modular components such as structural members of an offshore structure, and a method of using the jig assembly.
Conventionally, offshore structures, such as the legs or structural members of offshore platforms, are fabricated partially onshore and partially offshore. Often, steel tubulars are welded together onshore to make large sections which are taken by boat to the offshore assembly location, where they are then welded together. Wherever possible, it is desirable to perform most of the welding onshore. However, for larger structures, and for seabed fixed platforms in deeper water, more welding is required offshore, and often subsea, to connect together the legs of the structure as it is assembled. It is often challenging, expensive and time consuming to perform subsea welds on the legs of the platform.
In this regard, it is difficult to align two large and heavy components which are to be brought together and welded to form part of the offshore structure. Typically, the additional structure to be added to the structure already in place is held from a crane and lowered down into position where it can be welded to the existing structure. After the structure has been assembled in this way, it is often very difficult to dismantle once it has reached the end of its service life. For example, the legs of offshore platforms need to be cut to allow for disassembly, which can be challenging, expensive and time consuming. In this respect, in both assembly and disassembly, divers are often used to weld or cut the legs of the platform. There has however been a trend towards trying to eliminate the need for divers, particularly in deeper water since it is not only expensive to assemble and disassemble platforms using divers, but it is also dangerous. One solution has been the use of remotely operated vehicles to perform cutting tasks for example. However remotely operated vehicles with these capabilities are themselves very expensive and can be difficult to control accurately to perform the required tasks.
It is an object to provide a jig assembly and a method of using the assembly, which overcomes one or more of the above problems.
According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a jig assembly for aligning and spacing apart tubulars, the jig assembly comprising at least a first tubular spacer and a second tubular spacer; and at least a first connecting beam extending from the first tubular spacer to the second tubular spacer. Each of the first and second tubular spacers comprise a first end and a second end at opposite ends of the tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the first or second tubular spacer. The first and second tubular spacers are arranged to be fixable in position relative to each other by the first connecting beam and wherein each of the first and second tubular spacers has a first connector element at the first end for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration ultimately being connectable to the existing tubular configuration. This jig assembly allows for accurate alignment and spacing of the components of the new tubular configuration, such that components of the new tubular configuration can be fixed in place for relative alignment with the existing tubular configuration so the two tubular configurations will mate accurately.
Additionally, the jig assembly may comprise at least a third tubular spacer and at least a second connecting beam extending from either the first tubular spacer, the second tubular spacer or the first connecting beam to the third tubular spacer. The third tubular spacer may comprise a first end and a second end, provided at opposite ends of the third tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the third tubular spacer. The first, second and third tubular spacers may be arranged to be fixed in position relative to each other by the first connecting beam and the second connecting beam, and the third tubular spacer may have a first connector element at the first end for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration ultimately being connectable to the existing tubular configuration. This allows the jig assembly to be used to align existing and new tubular configurations with three of more tubular components.
Additionally, the jig assembly may further comprise at least a third connecting beam extending from either the first tubular spacer, the second tubular spacer, or the first connecting beam to the third tubular spacer, wherein the first, second and third tubular spacers are arranged to be fixed in position relative to each other by the first, second and third connecting beams. The inclusion of a third connecting beam allows for the third tubular spacer to be securely positioned in place during alignment.
Preferably, the first connecting beam connects the first and second tubular spacers, the second connecting beam connects the first and third tubular spacers, and the third connecting beam connects the second and third tubular spacers. This configuration provides a triangular arrangement whereby the weight of the connecting beams and tubular spacers is balanced more evenly across the jig assembly, making it more balanced and easier to manoeuvre into position by hand or by machine such as a crane.
Additionally, at least one of the connecting beams may comprise a telescoping section for adjusting the length of the connecting beam. This will allow the connecting beam to be used in various jig assembly configurations as it can span different lengths between tubular spacers.
Additionally, the tubular spacers are preferably each of a fixed length to ensure the robustness of the assembly, in that any dimensional change whilst they are being used would cause their relative spacing to be offset, and could therefore preclude the connectors of the existing and new tubular configurations being able to come together and mate properly at the same time.
The tubular spacers may alternatively be adjustable in length so that they can be reused in various jig assemblies in which longer or shorter tubular spacers are required. In such a case, reliable locking means for securely maintaining the required length are preferably provided.
The tubular spacers preferably are the same length so that they can provide the same offset for each tubular pipe, to ensure accurate alignment of the tubular pipes of the existing tubular configuration and the tubular pipes of the new tubular configuration.
Additionally, the connector elements may be configured to have a releasable coupling for connecting to a component of either the existing tubular configuration or the new tubular configuration. This provides the advantage that the connector elements can temporarily be coupled to the tubular configurations, as it would not be desirable to make a permanent fixation, since the jig assembly is purely for providing the correct alignment and spacing, rather than becoming a permanent part of the structure.
Additionally, each connector element may define a portion of a circumferential recess for receiving a locking ring, thus allowing for a mechanism to lock the connector elements in place which is desirable to allow it them to remain securely attached to either the existing tubular configuration whilst the other connector elements or connecting beam are being positioned, or to the new tubular configuration whilst the components of the new tubular configuration are being fixedly connected.
Additionally, each connector element may comprise one or more engaging elements for engaging with features of a locking ring. Such one or more engaging elements provide anchoring means by which the locking ring can secure and hold each connector element together with the component of the tubular configuration, thus ensuring secure mating between the connector element and component of the tubular configuration. Furthermore, the one or more engaging elements may comprise one or more protrusion portions and/or indent portions. In the case of an indent portion, this may have a concave profile, which may have an arcuate profile, and preferably comprises at least one ellipse in the cross section of the concave profile. Such a profile is intended to mitigate the damaging effect of high fatigue stresses that may be present at hotspots near the indent portion. This will preferably increase the lifespan of the component and reduce the likelihood of fatigue failure. Conveniently, the one or more engaging elements may have a multi-curved profile, and this is preferably formed of a plurality of ellipses. The plurality of ellipses is intended to reduce the effect of high fatigue stresses that may be present at hotspots near the ident portion.
Preferably, the connector elements may comprise a plurality of said one or more engaging elements. Incorporating a plurality of such engaging elements has the advantage of providing stronger engagement of the locking ring to the connector elements.
Additionally, at least one internal corner region of the circumferential recess may be afforded an arcuate concave profile. The arcuate concave profile seeks to reduce or eliminate stress hotspots, and so improves the fatigue life of the jig assembly and minimises fatigue failures.
Additionally, at least one internal corner region is profiled for spacing away from a locking ring when the locking ring is locked in position within the circumferential recess. This spacing allows the material of the connector elements to creep or move under high loads without the connector elements coming into contact with the locking ring at the internal corner regions. This reduces or eliminates the chance of stressing the material in the internal corner regions, so therefore improves the fatigue life of the jig assembly. To achieve this profile for spacing away, the internal corner regions may additionally extend substantially axially and substantially radially into the connector element from shoulders of a locking ring when the locking ring is in a locked position.
Additionally, at least one of the tubular spacers may comprise a lifting handle for assisting in lifting and positioning the tubular spacer or jig assembly. This provides the advantage of allowing the tubular spacer or jig assembly to be picked up either by hand or by a machine, such as a crane, so that it can be moved in to or out of position.
Additionally, one or more tubular spacers may comprise a locking ring. This allows each tubular spacer to be locked into position and secured with a connector.
According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of use of a jig assembly as previously discussed, the method comprising the steps of: connecting the first connector elements of each of the first and second tubular spacers to the tubular components of the existing tubular configuration; connecting the first connector beam between the first and second tubular spacers to lock the relative position of the first and second tubular spacers with respect to one another; disconnecting the first connector elements of each of the first and second tubular spacers from the tubular components of the existing tubular configuration; conveying the jig assembly to the assembly location of the new tubular configuration; connecting the components ofthe new tubular configuration to the second connector elements; fixedly connecting the components of the new tubular configuration to one another whilst connected to the jig assembly; disconnecting the new tubular configuration from connection with the second connector elements; and conveying the suitably connected new tubular configuration to the existing tubular configuration for connecting thereto. This method allows for accurate alignment of the existing tubular configuration and the new tubular configuration.
According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of use of a jig assembly as previously discussed, the method comprising the steps of: configuring and locking the relative position of the tubular spacers of the jig assembly in accordance with a gauge fixture; connecting the first connector elements of each of the tubular spacers of the jig assembly to a structure connector element to be welded to a structure; offering the jig assembly up to the structure so that the support connector elements can be welded to the structure whilst being held at their relative positions; and disconnecting the first connector elements and the structure connector elements to remove the jig assembly, the structure connectors remaining fixed to the structure.
This method of using the jig assembly with a gauge fixture affords a simpler, more accurate welding process resulting in a more secure weld to be achieved, with the connector element provided to the structure being welded in precisely the correct position.
An embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, and with reference to the following drawings, in which:
Fig 1 shows a connector assembly for connecting two pieces of tubular pipe together;
Fig 2 shows a spacer for aligning and spacing apart components of the connector assembly of Fig 1;
Fig 3 shows an enlarged cross-sectional view of the spacer shown in Fig 2;
Fig 4 shows a plan view of a jig assembly in accordance with a first aspect of the present invention; and
Fig 5 shows a flow diagram illustrating the steps of a method of use of the jig assembly of Fig 4, the method in accordance with a second aspect of the present invention.
Fig 1 shows a connector assembly 100 for connecting two pieces of pipe (not shown) together. The connector assembly 100 has three main components - two connector elements 101, 102 and a locking ring 103. Each connector element 101,
102 can be attached to a piece of pipe in a known way, such as welding, or may be formed at the end section of a pipe.
To securely connect two pieces of pipe together, a first piece of pipe with a first connector element 101 is fitted with a locking ring 103. The locking ring 103 is mounted to the first connector element 101 so that the two move together as the first connector element is lowered into engagement with the second connector element
102.
As the first and second connector elements are brought together, the locking ring
103 deflects outwards slightly, allowing it to pass over features of the second connector element and snap into engagement with the second connector element, thereby locking the first and second connector elements securely together.
In this connection, the first and second connector elements 101, 103 have an outwardly facing profile which defines a circumferential recess 105 for seating the locking ring 103. The locking ring 103 may be attached to the first connector element 101 within a portion of circumferential recess 105 made up by the first connector element 101.
The two connector elements 101, 102 may be guided into alignment with the aid of one or more alignment features 104. In the present example shown in Figure 1, the alignment feature 104 is formed from the shape of each connector element end, which registers with the corresponding connector element end with which it will engage. Alternative ways of guiding the two connectors into alignment are also envisaged, such as, but not limited to, using a stabbing guide connected to one of the connector elements 101, 102. The connector element ends may be inclined in this regard to enhance the alignment and ultimate connection of the connector assembly.
As shown in Figure 1, the locking ring 103 comprises a split in the ring. The split allows the ring to deflect outwardly while the locking ring 103 moves down on to the second connector element 102. The locking ring 103 hence can increase in diameter very slightly to travel past features of the second connector element 102 and then engage securely within the portion of the circumferential recess 105 made up by the second connector element, as shown in Figure 1.
The circumferential recess 105 may be formed around the full circumference of the connector elements 101, 102, or the circumferential recess 105 may be a recess formed over one or more parts of the circumference, but not necessarily extending continuously around the entire circumference. The circumferential recess 105 shown in Figure 1 is a recess around the entire circumference, and the locking ring 103 is therefore an almost continuous ring around the entire circumference save for the relatively small split to allow for the locking ring 103 to deflect open and closed as described above.
In alternative embodiments, the locking ring 103 may be openable to place around the connector elements 101, 102 and position within the circumferential recess 105. In this regard, the locking ring may have one or more axially orientated hinges allowing two semi-circular jaw-like sections thereof to open sufficiently to pass around the circumferential recess.
Alternatively, the locking ring may be hinged at one end from one of the connector elements 101, 102 such that the other end thereof can pivot down and snap into position once the connector elements 101, 102 are brought together.
As shown in Figure 1, the internal corner regions 106, 107 are profiled to be spaced from the locking ring 103 when the locking ring 103 is brought into the locking position shown in Figure 1. In this regard, the corner regions 106, 107 extend substantially axially and substantially radially away from the shoulders 108, 109.
It can be seen that the connectors 101, 102 each comprise engaging elements in the form of teeth 110, 111. It should be appreciated that teeth 110, 111 are just one way of providing an engaging element, and alternative elements that can perform the function of mating and engaging with the locking ring 103 are envisaged herein. The size and shape of the engaging elements must be registered with the size and shape ofthe feature on the locking ring 103 with which each engaging element will mate. In the example connector assembly shown in Figure 1, the teeth 110, 111 mate with teeth 112, 113 on the locking ring 103. There may be one or more engaging elements on each connector 101, 102. Typically, there may be two or three engaging elements on each connector 101, 102, and a corresponding number of engagement features on the locking ring 103.
When the connector assembly 100 is used in applications which cause high stresses within the material, stress hotspots may develop particularly at the internal corner regions 106, 107 where the material has been shaped for receiving the locking ring
103. Typically, the locking ring 103 has sharp angles (around 90 degrees) at the shoulders 108, 109, and so the connectors 101, 102 are often manufactured with a similar angle for receiving the locking ring 103. The sharp angle at the internal corner regions 106 can create a stress hotspot in these regions. The internal corner regions 106, 107 are afforded an arcuate concave profile 114, as this helps to distribute the stress and reduce or eliminate stress hotspots. The arcuate concave profile 114 may be substantially elliptical in cross-section, and may be an elliptical scallop cut into the material ofthe connector 101, 102 at the internal corner regions 106, 107.
The arcuate concave profile 114 allows for the internal corner regions 106, 107 to be spaced apart from the locking ring 103 when the locking ring 103 is in the locked position, as shown in Fig 1. This space allows for the material of the connectors 101, 102 to creep or move under high loads without the connectors 101, 102 coming into contact with the locking ring 103 at the internal corner regions 106, 107. This reduces or eliminates the chance of stressing the material in the internal corner regions 106, 107, so therefore improves the fatigue life ofthe connectors 101, 102.
Stress hotspots may also develop at the engaging elements of each connector 101, 102. Each engaging element may comprise a protrusion portion and/or an indent portion. The protrusion portions register with corresponding indent portions of the locking ring. The indent portions register with corresponding protrusion portions of the locking ring. Preferably, the indent portion of each engaging element is afforded a concave profile having an arcuate profile, and preferably multi-curve profile, conveniently comprising two partial ellipses. In a similar fashion to the arcuate concave profile used in the internal corner regions 106, the adoption of this profile here helps to relieve stress hotspots, and improve the fatigue life of the connectors 101, 102.
The assembly of a large structure offshore would usually involve aligning the parts to be welded so that they are in position to achieve a strong weld. When a structure with two or more legs is being welded down on to an existing structure, it can be challenging to align them perfectly. However, with conventional offshore support structures there will not be any complex connector parts that can get damaged on such assembly, and it is not as important that each leg is brought down in perfect alignment and at the same time as the other legs of the structure.
In contrast, with the assembly method of the present invention involving connectors such as those discussed below with reference to Figure 2, accurate alignment is of high importance. In this connection, to ensure that the connectors align, that none of the complex elements of the connector are damaged in the alignment process and that each of the connectors on each of the legs are mated with their corresponding connector at the same time, precise alignment of all of the connectors must be achieved during fabrication. In this respect, the locking ring of each connector element snaps into engagement with the corresponding connector, and it is important that each connector element of each leg is brought into engagement at the same time as all of the other connectors, as the snapping of the locking ring is achieved by weight-set. Any significant misalignment in either the vertical or horizontal direction could stop the connectors associated with one or more legs from being able to mate and lock with its corresponding connector element, regardless of the weight being set to push the locking ring into engagement, as accurate alignment is also needed.
In his connection Figure 2 shows the connector assembly 100 of Figure 1 in an opened state with a tubular spacer 200 between the first connector 101 and second connector 102. The tubular spacer 200 has a first end 201 and a second end 202, which are at opposite ends of the tubular spacer 200. At the first end 201 there is provided a first connector element 203, which is configured to mate with the first connector 101, and at the second end 202 there is provided a second connector element 204, which is configured to mate with the second connector 102. The tubular spacer 200 shown in Figure 2 has a lifting handle 205 for assisting in lifting and positioning the tubular spacer 200 or jig assembly (not shown).
The tubular spacer 200 also has a locking ring 206 configured to be substantially similar to the locking ring 103 of the connector assembly. It will be appreciated that for the tubular spacer 200 to engage both the first and second connectors 101, 102, first connector element 203 should be substantially similar to second connector 102, and second connector element 204 should be substantially similar to first connector 101. It is clear that this is required to allow the tubular spacer to mate, engage and lock in position between the two connectors 101, 102. The locking ring 206 may be semi-circular and attached to the tubular spacer 200, for example it may be hinged near to the second end 202 such that it can snap down into the locked position. The locking ring 206 may have one or more axially orientated hinges allowing two semicircular jaw-like sections thereof to open sufficiently to pass around the circumferential recess.
Figure 3 shows an enlarged view of the tubular spacer 200 of Figure 2. The tubular spacer 200 must be configured to provide a circumferential recess at both ends for receiving the locking rings. It is preferred that the tubular spacer 200 also has the fatigue stress mitigation features that the connector assembly has, as previously discussed with reference to Figure 1.
The circumferential recesses formed by the tubular spacer when it mates with the connectors may be formed around the full circumference, or over one or more parts of the circumference, but not necessarily extending continuously around the entire circumference. If the circumferential recesses extend around the entire circumference, then the locking ring takes the form of a continuous ring around the entire circumference so that it can engage the two connectors around the entire circumference.
Figure 3 shows the spacer 200 with the exclusion of the locking ring 206 of a type that snaps down over the second connector 102. The locking ring 206 may be connected to the spacer 200 or it may be a separate component which is added to the assembly once the spacer 200 has mated with the two connectors 101, 102.
The internal corner regions 300, 301 are profiled to be spaced from the locking rings when the locking rings are brought into the locking position shown in Figure 2. In this regard, the internal corner regions 300, 301 extend substantially axially and substantially radially away from the shoulders 207, 208 (Figure 2).
It can be seen that the connector elements 203, 204 of the tubular spacer 200 each comprise engaging elements in the form of teeth 302, 303. It should be appreciated that teeth 302, 303 are just one way of providing an engaging element, and alternative elements that can perform the function of mating and engaging with a locking ring are envisaged herein. The size and shape of the engaging elements must be registered with the size and shape of the feature on the locking ring with which each engaging element will mate. In the example shown in Figure 2, the teeth of the connector elements on the tubular spacer 200 mate with teeth on the locking rings. There may be one or more engaging elements on each connector element 203, 204. Typically, there may be two or three engaging elements on each connector element 203, 204, and a corresponding number of engagement features on the locking ring.
When the tubular spacer 200 is used in applications which cause high stresses within the material, stress hotspots may develop particularly at the internal corner regions 300, 301 where the material has been shaped for receiving the locking ring. Typically, the locking ring has sharp angles (around 90 degrees) at the shoulders 207, 208, and so the internal corner regions 300, 301 are often manufactured with a similar angle for receiving the locking ring. The sharp angle at the internal corner regions 300, 301 can create a stress hotspot in these regions. In this regard, the internal corner regions 300, 301 are afforded arcuate concave profiles 304, 305, as this helps to distribute the stress and reduce or eliminate stress hotspots. The arcuate concave profiles 304, 305 may be substantially elliptical in cross-section, and may be an elliptical scallop cut into the material of the connector element 203, 204 at the internal corner regions 300, 301.
Each of the arcuate concave profiles 304, 305 allows for the internal corner regions 300, 301 to be spaced apart from the locking ring when the locking ring is in the locked position, as shown in Fig 2. This space allows for the material of the connector elements 203, 204 of the tubular spacer 200 to creep or move under high loads without the connector elements 203, 204 coming into contact with the locking ring at the internal corner regions 300, 301.
This reduces or eliminates the chance of stressing the material in the internal corner regions 300, 301, so therefore improves the fatigue life of the tubular spacer 200.
Stress hotspots may also develop at the engaging elements of each connector element 203, 204. Each engaging element may comprise a protrusion portion and/or an indent portion. The protrusion portions register with corresponding indent portions of the locking ring. The indent portions register with corresponding protrusion portions of the locking ring. Preferably, the indent portion of each engaging element is afforded a concave profile having an arcuate profile, and preferably multi-curve profile, conveniently comprising two partial ellipses. In a similar fashion to the arcuate concave profiles 304, 305 used in the internal corner regions 300, 301 the adoption of this profile here helps to relieve stress hotspots, and improve the fatigue life of the tubular spacer 200.
Referring now to Figure 4, this shows a plan view of an example of a jig assembly 400 having three tubular spacers 401, 402, 403 each of which is the tubular spacer 200 of Figures 2 and 3. It should be appreciated that the number of tubular spacers 200 present in the jig assembly will be dependent on the structure to be aligned. Most offshore structures will comprise more than two legs, but it is envisaged that any number of spacers 200 may be configured together to make a jig assembly 400 in accordance with the present invention.
The tubular spacers 401, 402, 403 are connected by connecting beams 404, 405, 406. The connecting beams 401, 402, 403 serve to position the tubular spacers 401,
402, 403 at a set distance apart and at a set height with respect to each other. The connecting beams 401, 402, 403 may be tubular or solid beams, and may be configured with an adjustable length, for example by use of a telescopic arrangement. The connecting beams 401, 402, 403 may be permanently fixed to the tubular spacers 401, 402, 403, or they may be releasably attached such that the spacers 200, 401, 402, 403 and connecting beams 401, 402, 403 are themselves modular, interchangeable and suitable for use in various configurations.
A method of use of the jig assembly 400 is now described with reference to flowchart 500 in Figure 5. The method is for spacing and aligning an existing tubular configuration with a new tubular configuration. These tubular configurations may be, for example, legs of an offshore structure. There may be two tubular components in each of the existing tubular configuration and the new tubular configuration, or there may be three or more tubular components in each. The number of tubular components requiring spacing and alignment influences the configuration of the jig assembly 400, and the method steps required to perform the spacing and alignment using the jig assembly 400, with some steps being repeated if there are more than two tubular components in each of the existing tubular configuration and the new tubular configuration, as will be shown with reference to the flowchart 500.
The method starts at step 501, wherein the first connector elements 203 of each of the tubular spacers 200 in the jig assembly 400 is connected to the tubular components of the existing tubular configuration.
At step 502, the first connector beam is connected between the first and second tubular spacers 200 to lock the relative position of the first and second tubular spacers 200 with respect to one another. If there are more than two tubular components in the existing and new tubular configurations requiring spacing and alignment, the jig assembly will have the same number of tubular spacers 200 as tubular components requiring alignment, and further connecting beams will be connected between these tubular spacers 200 (step 503). Any suitable number of connecting beams may be used, and it will be appreciated that the connecting beams may connect various spacers 200 in no particular pattern, i.e. each spacer 200 need not be connected to every other spacer 200 via the connecting beams. Connecting beams are used to lock tubular spacers 200 in position relative to one another. Various methods of attaching the tubular spacer 200 and the connecting beam may be used. These may include a fixed, non-releasable attachment, for example a weld, or the attachment may be releasable such that the spacers 200 and connecting beams can be reused in different jig assembly configurations.
After the spacers 200 have been locked in position relative to one another, the first connector elements 203 of the tubular spacers 200 are disconnected from the existing tubular configuration (step 503). The jig assembly 400 is then conveyed to the assembly location ofthe new tubular configuration (Step 504). As the jig assembly 400 has now had the tubular spacers 200 fixed in position based on the existing tubular configuration, the next step (step 505) is to connect the components of the new tubular configuration to the second connector elements 204 of the tubular spacers 200. This will bring all the tubular components of the new tubular configuration into the correct alignment and spacing, such that they can then be fixedly connected to one another as shown in step 506, whilst connected to the jig assembly 400. At step 507 the new tubular configuration is disconnected from the second connector elements of the tubular spacers 200. The new tubular configuration is then conveyed to the existing tubular configuration in any suitable way such that the new tubular configuration may be connected to the existing tubular configuration. This method allows for accurate alignment and spacing such that the existing tubular configuration and the new tubular configuration can be brought together and attached without the risk of misalignment of the tubulars or the connections, and so there is a reduced risk of damage to either of the tubular configurations, and more certainty that the tubulars are aligned properly at the first attempt.
A further method of use of the jig assembly 400 is now described. With this method, the jig can be used to hold connectors that are going to be welded onto a structure, so that such connectors are correctly held for the welding process. The connectors that are to be welded to the structure are connected to connectors on the jig, the jig as such serving as a means of holding the structure connectors in place during the welding process. In order that the jig is correctly set to hold the structure connectors, it is calibrated with a gauge fixture, based on the configuration of the structure to which the structure connectors are to be welded, this potentially being a prearranged or predetermined configuration.
In this case, the jig assembly can be used to ensure that these initial structure connectors are properly aligned during the welding/fabrication stage to the structure. The jig assembly can in this regard be calibrated on the gauge fixture to ensure it is correctly set-up. The gauge fixture may moreover be used to help re-set the jig assembly if required.
This method of using the jig assembly provides a simpler and more reliable welding process producing a more secure weld.
When this invention is used to align modular parts of offshore structures, there is a considerable benefit over attempting to align the structures and perform the required welds offshore. Furthermore, the reduction in risk that the structures will not be properly aligned reduces the risk of there being downtime to rectify the misalignment. The present invention makes it possible to use connectors to assemble large offshore structures in modular parts, and with less human invention to perform welds offshore.
A modular platform assembly can be assembled by using the present invention to align the tubular components before the modular parts are shipped offshore, or the present invention can be used to align each new modular part to an existing modular part that is fixed in position offshore. In this way, new modular parts will be aligned and their tubulars will be spaced apart appropriately such that when they are taken to be assembled it will be guaranteed that they will fit together without causing damage to the connectors or needing several attempts to align them offshore, which is a more challenging and expensive environment in which to align the parts.

Claims (23)

1. A jig assembly for aligning and spacing apart tubulars, the jig assembly comprising:
at least a first tubular spacer and a second tubular spacer; and at least a first connecting beam extending from the first tubular spacer to the second tubular spacer, wherein each of the first and second tubular spacers comprise:
a first end and a second end at opposite ends of the tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the first or second tubular spacer; wherein the first and second tubular spacers are arranged to be fixable in position relative to each other by the first connecting beam and wherein each of the first and second tubular spacers has a first connector element at the first end for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration ultimately being connectable to the existing tubular configuration.
2. The jig assembly of claim 1 further comprising:
at least a third tubular spacer; and at least a second connecting beam extending from either the first tubular spacer, the second tubular spacer or the first connecting beam to the third tubular spacer, wherein the third tubular spacer comprises:
a first end and a second end, provided at opposite ends of the third tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the third tubular spacer; wherein the first, second and third tubular spacers are arranged to be fixed in position relative to each other by the first connecting beam and the second connecting beam, and the third tubular spacer has a first connector element at the first end for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration ultimately being connectable to the existing tubular configuration.
3. The jig assembly of claim 2, further comprising: at least a third connecting beam extending from either the first tubular spacer, the second tubular spacer, or the first connecting beam to the third tubular spacer, wherein the first, second and third tubular spacers are arranged to be fixed in position relative to each other by the first, second and third connecting beams.
4. The jig assembly of claim 1 further comprising:
at least a third tubular spacer;
at least a second connecting beam extending from the first tubular spacer to the third tubular spacer; and at least a third connecting beam extending from the second tubular spacer to the third tubular spacer, wherein the third tubular spacer comprises:
a first end and a second end, provided at opposite ends of the third tubular spacer along a longitudinal axis of the third tubular spacer; wherein the first, second and third tubular spacers are arranged to be fixed in position relative to each other by the first, second and third connecting beams, and the third tubular spacer has a first connector element at the first end for connection to a component of an existing tubular configuration and a second connector element at the second end, for connecting to a component of a new tubular configuration, the new tubular configuration ultimately being connectable to the existing tubular configuration.
5. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein at least one of the connecting beams further comprises a telescoping section for adjusting the length of the connecting beam.
6. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular spacers are each a fixed length.
7. The jig assembly of any one of claims 1 to 5, wherein the tubular spacers are each an adjustable length.
8. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular spacers are the same length.
9. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein the connector elements are configured to be releasably couplable to a component of either the existing tubular configuration or the new tubular configuration.
10. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein each connector element defines a portion of a circumferential recess for receiving a locking ring.
11. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein each connector element comprises one or more engaging elements for engaging with features of a locking ring.
12. The jig assembly of claim 11, wherein each engaging element comprises an indent portion or a protrusion portion for engaging with an indent portion or a protrusion portion of a locking ring.
13. The jig assembly of claim 11 or 12, wherein each engaging element is afforded with an arcuate profile.
14. The jig assembly of any one of claims 11 to 13, wherein each engaging element has a profile comprises at least one ellipse.
15. The jig assembly of any one of claims 11 to 14, wherein each engaging element is afforded a concave profile comprising a plurality of ellipses.
16. The jig assembly of any one of claims 11 to 15, wherein each connector element comprises a plurality of said one or more engaging elements.
17. The jig assembly of any one of claims 11 to 16, wherein at least one internal corner region of the circumferential recess is afforded an arcuate concave profile.
18. The jig assembly of claim 17, wherein the at least one internal corner region is profiled for spacing away from a locking ring when the locking ring is locked in position within the circumferential recess.
19. The jig assembly of claim 17 or 18, wherein the at least one internal corner region extends substantially axially and substantially radially into the connector element for spacing the connector element away from shoulders of a locking ring when the locking ring is in a locked position.
20. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein at least one of the first, second and third tubular spacers further comprises a lifting handle for assisting in lifting and positioning that tubular spacer or the jig assembly.
21. The jig assembly of any preceding claim, wherein each of the tubular spacers further comprise a locking ring.
22. A method of use of a jig assembly according to any preceding claim, the method comprising the steps of:- connecting the first connector elements of each of the first and second tubular spacers to the tubular components of the existing tubular configuration;
connecting the first connector beam between the first and second tubular spacers to lock the relative position of the first and second tubular spacers with respect to one another;
disconnecting the first connector elements of each of the first and second tubular spacers from the tubular components of the existing tubular configuration;
conveying the jig assembly to the assembly location of the new tubular configuration;
connecting the components of the new tubular configuration to the second connector elements;
fixedly connecting the components of the new tubular configuration to one another whilst connected to the jig assembly;
disconnecting the new tubular configuration from connection with the second connector elements; and conveying the suitably connected new tubular configuration to the existing tubular configuration for connecting thereto.
23. A method of use of a jig assembly according to any one of claims 1 to 21, the method comprising the steps of:- configuring and locking the relative position of the tubular spacers of the jig assembly in accordance with a gauge fixture;
10 connecting the first connector elements of each of the tubular spacers of the jig assembly to a structure connector element to be welded to a structure;
offering the jig assembly up to the structure so that the support connector elements can be welded to the structure whilst being held at their relative positions; and
15 disconnecting the first connector elements and the structure connector elements to remove the jig assembly, the structure connectors remaining fixed to the structure.
GB1813785.1A 2018-08-23 2018-08-23 Jig assembly and method of use thereof Pending GB2576558A (en)

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GB2576558A true GB2576558A (en) 2020-02-26

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Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20060249637A1 (en) * 2003-03-06 2006-11-09 Mik Houldsworth Support/assembly structure and article retaining arrangements
KR20080110096A (en) * 2007-06-14 2008-12-18 엘지전자 주식회사 A jig for welding of the pipes
CN204262667U (en) * 2014-11-07 2015-04-15 金海重工股份有限公司 A kind of pipe centering instrument for Offshore Platform Construction
CN105108419A (en) * 2015-09-23 2015-12-02 天津惠蓬海洋工程有限公司 Assembling jig frame for rack plate and connecting plate of self-elevating marine drilling platform
CN205271305U (en) * 2015-12-07 2016-06-01 天津中际装备制造有限公司 Group of ocean module drilling machine high pressure line is to using special fixture
US20180117717A1 (en) * 2015-04-02 2018-05-03 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. Welding assembly for permanent joining of a first tubular component with a second component

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20060249637A1 (en) * 2003-03-06 2006-11-09 Mik Houldsworth Support/assembly structure and article retaining arrangements
KR20080110096A (en) * 2007-06-14 2008-12-18 엘지전자 주식회사 A jig for welding of the pipes
CN204262667U (en) * 2014-11-07 2015-04-15 金海重工股份有限公司 A kind of pipe centering instrument for Offshore Platform Construction
US20180117717A1 (en) * 2015-04-02 2018-05-03 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. Welding assembly for permanent joining of a first tubular component with a second component
CN105108419A (en) * 2015-09-23 2015-12-02 天津惠蓬海洋工程有限公司 Assembling jig frame for rack plate and connecting plate of self-elevating marine drilling platform
CN205271305U (en) * 2015-12-07 2016-06-01 天津中际装备制造有限公司 Group of ocean module drilling machine high pressure line is to using special fixture

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