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Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR ATTACHING FLOATING PIPE SECTIONS, FLOATING PIPE SECTION COMPRISING SUCH A DEVICE AND A FLOATING PIPE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/070075
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a device (10) for attaching floating pipe sections (2) to each other to form a floating pipe system (1). The device (10) comprises a first jaw (11) and a second jaw (12) together defining an opening for receiving an end part (3) of a floating pipe section (2). The first and second jaw (11, 12) are arranged to assume an opened position allowing insertion of the end part (3) and being connectable to each other to assume a closed position to lock the end part (3) in the opening in a locking position. The first jaw (1 1) comprises a guide (30) for receiving and guiding the end part (3) towards the locking position.

Inventors:
BIJVOET ERWIN CORNELIS JOHANNES (NL)
VAN OPSTAL TIMOTHY ALEXANDER (NL)
Application Number:
NL2012/050789
Publication Date:
May 16, 2013
Filing Date:
November 08, 2012
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
IHC HOLLAND IE BV (NL)
International Classes:
F16L23/08
Domestic Patent References:
WO2011072327A12011-06-23
Foreign References:
US6672631B12004-01-06
EP0670392A11995-09-06
US1994007A1935-03-12
EP0670392A11995-09-06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOT, David (J.W. Frisolaan 13, JS The Hague, NL-2517, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. Device (10) for attaching floating pipe sections (2) to each other to form a floating pipe system (1), the device (10) comprising a first jaw (11) and a second jaw (12), together defining an opening (15) for receiving an end part (3) of a floating pipe section (2), the first and second jaw (11, 12) are arranged to assume an opened position allowing insertion of the end part (3) and being connectable to each other to assume a closed position and to lock the end part (3) in the opening in a locking position, wherein the first jaw (1 1) comprises a guide (30) for receiving and guiding the end part (3) towards the locking position, characterized in that the guide (30) comprises guiding members (31) provided on both a first jaw end and a second jaw end of the first jaw (11).

2. Device according to claim 1, wherein the opening is further arranged to receive a second end part (3) of a second floating pipe section (2), the first and second floating pipe sections (2) being substantially parallel to each other after both are positioned in the locking position.

3. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first jaw (11) comprises a receiving groove (13) facing in the direction of the opening for receiving the end part (3), wherein the receiving groove (13) is arranged to receive a flange (4) provided along at least part of the outer circumference of the end part (3) and the flange (4) protrudes in an outward radial direction. 4. Device according to claim 3, wherein the receiving groove (13) is arranged to receive a flange (4) of a first floating pipe section (2) and a second flange of a second floating pipe section (2).

5. Device according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the guiding members (31) protrude from the first and second jaw end in a divergent manner.

6. Device according to claim 5, wherein the guiding member (31) associated with the first jaw end is at an angle a with respect to the guiding member (31) associated with the second jaw end, when seen in a direction perpendicular to the opening, wherein 1° < a < 45°, or at least 5° < a < 25°.

7. Device according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the guiding members (31) associated with the first jaw end comprise two elongated guiding rails (33) each having an elongated body axis (B) which are at a mutual angle β when seen in a direction perpendicular to the body axes (B), wherein 1° < β < 25°, or at least 5° < β < 25°.

8. Device according to any one of the claims 5 - 7, wherein the guiding members (31) associated with the second jaw end comprise two elongated guiding rails (33) each having an elongated body axis (B) which are at a mutual angle β when seen in a direction perpendicular to the body axes (B), wherein 1° < β < 25°, or at least 5° < β < 25°. 9. Device according to claims 7 or 8, wherein the guiding rails (33) are provided on opposite sides of the second jaw (13) to allow the second jaw to pass in between the guiding rails (33) during a transition from the opened to the closed position and vice versa. 10. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a locking mechanism (40) for locking the second jaw (12) to the first jaw (11) in the locked position.

11. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein a first end (17) of the first jaw (11) is rotatably connected to a first end (20) of the second jaw (13).

12. Device according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the guide (30) and the first jaw (11) are formed as an integral device.

13. Floating pipe section (2) having a first and a second end part (3), wherein at least one end part (3) comprises a device (10) according to any one of the claims 1 - 12.

14. Floating pipe section (2) according to claim 13, wherein the floating pipe section (2) is a dredging pipe.

15. Floating pipe section (2) according to claim 13, wherein both the first and second end part comprise a device (10), wherein the two guides (30) are mutually orientated with the receiving openings (15, 34) of each device facing in the same direction.

16. Floating pipe section (2) according to claim 13, wherein both the first and second end part comprise a device (10), wherein the two guides (30) are mutually orientated in parallel planes with the receiving openings (15, 34) of each device facing in opposite directions.

17. Floating pipe system comprising at least two floating pipe sections (2) connected by a device (10) according to any one of the claims 1 - 12.

18. Method for connecting at least two floating pipe sections (2) according to any of the claims 13 to 16, comprising the steps of:

- providing a first floating pipe section (2),

- providing a device (10) according to any one of the claims 1 - 13 on at least one end part (3) of the first floating pipe section (2),

- providing a second floating pipe section (2) having at least one free end part (3),

- positioning the first and second floating pipe section (2) parallel to and at a distance from each other and bringing the end part (3) of the first floating pipe section (2) comprising the device (10) and the free end part (3) of the second floating pipe section (2) towards each other by a movement substantially perpendicular to an axial direction of the first and second floating pipe sections (2),

- trapping the free end part (3) of the second floating pipe section (2) in the guide (30) of the device (10) and moving the end part (3) towards the locking position,

- closing the device (10) to lock the first and second floating pipe sections (2) in a locked position.

19. Method according to claim 18, further comprising providing and applying further connection members to connect the first and second floating pipe sections (2) to each other. 20. Method according to claim 19, further comprising removing the device (10).

Description:
Device and method for attaching floating pipe sections, floating pipe section comprising such a device and a floating pipe system

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a device for attaching floating pipes to each other to form a floating pipe system, the device comprising a first jaw and a second jaw, together defining an opening for receiving an end part of a floating pipe section, the first and second jaw are arranged to assume an opened position allowing insertion of the end part and being connectable to each other to assume a closed position and to lock the end part in the opening in a locking position.

The invention also relates to a floating pipe section having a first and a second end part, wherein at least one end part comprises a device as described above.

In addition, the invention relates to a floating pipe system comprising at least two floating pipe sections connected by a device as described above.

Furthermore, the invention relates to a method for connecting at least two floating pipe sections comprising a device as described above.

BACKGROUND

When performing dredging operations using a dredging vessel, such as a trailing suction vessel, a suction dredger or a cutter suction vessel, it is often needed to transport the dredged material to a location remote from the dredging vessel, such as a nearby hopper vessel or a remote dumping location. Transportation of the dredged material may be done via a floating pipe system, which may be formed as a floating pipe system.

EP0670392 describes a device for coupling such a floating pipe to a suction dredger. The device has a conduit coupling whose one coupling part extends at the outlet of a pressure conduit of a suction dredger over the bow. Its other coupling part is provided as a floating hose conduit formed as the end of a flushing tube conduit. The coupling part on the pressure conduit from the even rear wall adjoining the bow wall of the suction dredger, in which the pressure conduit ends, is formed as a coupling pocket. The front wall of the coupling pocket has a fork-shaped recess, in which a pipe piece, in which the hose conduit issues, has a support or guide plate which is flange-shaped and forms the coupling part on the flushing tube conduit. Floating pipe systems may be formed by a number of floating pipe segments which are connected to each other. The different floating pipe segments may for instance be rigid pipe segments which are mutually connected. The attached floating pipe segments form a floating pipe system.

WO2011/072327 discloses a device for attaching pipe sections to each other to form a pipe system.

Devices known from the prior art are either relatively fast, but big and heavy, or are relatively compact but relatively difficult to use. Such devices are not easy to use when connecting floating pipe segments in an off shore environment, especially not in windy and wavy sea conditions.

It is difficult to connect floating pipe sections, especially in off-shore situations, as alignment of the floating pipe sections is disturbed by wind and waves.

SHORT DESCRIPTION

Obj ect is to provide a device and a method for connecting floating pipes in an easy and quick way.

This is achieved by providing a device for attaching floating pipe sections to each other to form a floating pipe system, the device comprising a first jaw and a second jaw, together defining an opening for receiving an end part of a floating pipe section, the first and second jaw are arranged to assume an opened position allowing insertion of the end part and being connectable to each other to assume a closed position and to lock the end part in the opening in a locking position, whereby the first jaw comprises a guide for receiving and guiding the end part towards the locking position, wherein the guide comprises guiding members provided on both a first jaw end and a second jaw end of the first j aw.

This construction combines quick (de-)connection with relatively small dimensions. Compared to some connections, this one can be used in situations wherein parts of the pipe are under water and difficult to be reached.

The device as described above is used to attach floating pipe sections to each other, for instance dredging pipes or pipes for transporting water, oil and/or gas. The floating pipe sections can be floating by themselves, or for instance comprise buoyant members to keep the pipes afloat. By connecting at least two pipe sections with a device as described above to each other, a floating pipe system is constructed.

The invention also relates to a method for connecting at least two floating pipe sections as described, comprising the steps of:

- providing a first floating pipe section,

- providing at least one device as described above on an end part of the first floating pipe section,

- providing a second floating pipe section having at least one free end part,

- positioning the first and second floating pipe section parallel to and at a distance from each other and bringing the end part of the first floating pipe section comprising the device and the free end part of the second floating pipe section towards each other by a movement substantially perpendicular to an axial direction of the first and second floating pipe sections,

- trapping the free end part of the second floating pipe section in the guide of the device and moving the end part towards the opening of the first jaw,

- closing the device to lock the first and second floating pipe sections in a locked position.

In the locked position, the two floating pipe sections are aligned with respect to each other to allow transportation of dredged material through the first and second floating pipe sections.

SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying schematic drawings in which corresponding reference symbols indicate corresponding parts, and in which:

Figure 1 schematically depicts a device according to an embodiment,

Figure 2 schematically depicts a detailed view of a floating pipe system according to an embodiment,

Figure 3 schematically depicts a floating pipe system according to an

embodiment, and

Figures 4a - c schematically depict a method for connecting floating pipe sections according to an embodiment. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figure 1 schematically depicts a device 10 according to an embodiment of the invention. The device 10 comprises a first jaw 11 and a second jaw 12 that define an opening 15 for receiving an end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2, as shown in Figure

2. In Figure 1 the first and second jaws are arranged in an open position. Through the rotatable connection 14, for example by a hinge, the second jaw 12 can be brought into a closed position wherein the first and second jaw can be locked by locking mechanism 40 to lock one or two end parts 3 in the opening in a locking position. The first and second jaws 11, 12 can be closed into a locking position after receiving the end parts 3 of two pipe sections 2 to be connected.

The device 10 defines an axial direction (ax), which is parallel to the axial direction of the floating pipe sections 2, i.e. longitudinal body axes 5 of the floating pipe sections 2 once in the locking position. The device 10 thus also defines a radial direction (rx) and a tangential direction (tx) associated with the axial direction, as shown in Fig. 2.

In order to receive and guide an end part 3 of the pipe section 2 to the first jaw 11 a guide 30 is provided the respective ends 17, 18 of the first jaw 11. According to Figure 1 the guide 30 comprises guide members 31 provided on both a first end 17 and a second end 18 of the first jaw 11.

The guiding members 31 protrude from the first jaw 11 in such a way that when two flanges 4 of the pipe sections 2 to be connected are received by the guiding members 31 they are trapped within the guiding members 31 and guided towards the first jaw 11. The guiding members 31 are arranged to catch an end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2 and guide it into the opening 15 where it can be locked in position by closing the first and second jaw 11, 12. Because of the guiding members 31, there is no need to accurately manoeuvre one end part 3 towards another end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2 in order to position the end part 3 into the opening 15 of the device. Also, it is now possible to approach the device 10 from the side which is relatively easy. The guide members 31 protrude from the first and second end of the first jaw in a divergent manner, thereby defining between their respective ends an opening 34 larger than the circumference of the end parts 3 and the flanges 4 of the pipe sections 2. The first jaw 11 may be shaped as part of a circle to match the outer

circumference of an end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2. It is also possible that the device 10 comprises more than two jaws, for instance three jaws, whereby the jaws in a closed position match the outer circumference of the end part of the floating pipe. When three jaws are applied, the first jaw comprises the guide members at each respective end and the second and third jaw are each rotatably connected to the first jaw at each respective end of the first jaw. In a closed position, the device is locked by locking the second and third jaw by a locking mechanism.

The first jaw 11 comprises a receiving groove 13 facing in the direction of the opening 15 for receiving the end part 3, i.e. in an inward radial direction. The end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2 can be provided with a flange 4 along at least part of the outer circumference 16 of the end part 3, but preferably along the total outer circumference 16, and the flange 4 protrudes in an outward radial direction, as shown in Figure 2. The flange 4 has a flange outer circumference 41. The receiving groove 13 is arranged to receive a flange 4 of a first floating pipe section 2 and a second flange 4 of a second floating pipe section 2. The receiving groove 13 may have a width in axial direction ax that allows to receive two flanges 4 of two different floating pipe sections in an abutting manner such to ensure a fluid-tight connection between the two floating pipe sections. Such a groove 13 can be used to lock the flanges 4 into a locking position. The second jaw 12 may have a similar groove 13. The groove 13 is positioned on the inside of the jaws 11, 12.

The first and second jaws 11, 12 may also be closed when only a single end part 3 is present. This may for instance be done to pre-install the device on an end part 3 of a of pipe section 2.

Figure 2 schematically depicts a detailed view of a floating pipe system 1 according to an embodiment of the invention. The floating pipe system 1 may be suitable for transporting dredging material. The pipe sections may be made of steel or rubber or a mix thereof, such as rubber comprising steel reinforcement rings embedded in the steel. The diameter of the pipe sections may be in the range of 0,6 meter to 2 meter, for instance 1 meter.

As shown in Figure 1, the opening 15 defined by the jaws 11, 12 is further arranged to receive a second end part 3 of a second floating pipe section 2. The first and second floating pipe sections 2 are substantially parallel to each other but extending in opposite axial directions after both are positioned in the locking position within the receiving groove 13 and after the device 10 is closed. This way a fluid-tight floating pipe system 1 is formed through which dredged material can be transported.

As mentioned above, the guide 30 comprises guiding members 31. These guiding members can protrude from the first and second ends 17, 18 of the first jaw 11 in a divergent manner. The guide members 31 are straight elongated members substantially extending in the tangential direction tx.

The guiding members 31 associated with the first end 17 of the first jaw 11 may be mutually divergent in the axial direction ax. The same applies for the guiding members 31 associated with the second end 18 of the first jaw 11. This is indicated with angle β in Fig. 3.

The guiding members 31 associated with the first end 17 of the first jaw 11 may also be divergent in the tangential direction tx with respect to the guiding members 31 associated with the second end 18 of the first jaw 11. This is indicated with angle a in Fig. 1.

By the divergence (in the axial and tangential direction) between the different guiding members 31, the pipe ends 3 are relatively easily inserted into the guide 30, which makes it easier to manoeuvre the pipe ends 3 into the reach of the guide 30. The guide thus creates a guide receiving opening 34 which is larger than the opening 15 defined by the jaws 11, 12. The guide receiving opening 34 is thus larger than the circumference 16 of the end part of the pipe section, making positioning of the pipe end 3 relatively easy. Once the end part 3 is trapped in the guide 30, the guide leads the floating pipe section 2 towards the locking position in a convergent way. The guide 30 and the guiding members 31 thus form a self-aligning device.

The guiding member 31 associated with the first jaw end is at an angle a with respect to the guiding member 31 associated with the second jaw end, when seen in the axial direction ax wherein 1° < a < 45°, or at least 5° < a < 25°, as shown in Figure 1. Thereby a divergence in a tangential direction tx is created.

Figure 3 schematically depicts a floating pipe system 1 according to an embodiment. The floating pipe system comprises at least two pipe sections 2 which are mutually connected by a connecting device 10. As shown, guiding rails 33 are provided on opposite sides of the first jaw 11 as to allow the second jaw 12 to pass in between the guiding rails 33 during a transition from the opened to the closed position and vice versa.

The guiding members 31 associated with the first end 17 of the first jaw comprise two elongated guiding rails 33 each having an elongated body axis B which are at a mutual angle β when seen in a direction perpendicular to the body axes of the floating pipe sections 2 (substantial tangential direction tx) once in the locking position, wherein 1° < β < 25°, or at least 5° < β < 25°. Thereby a divergence in an axial direction ax is created.

Furthermore, the guiding members 31 associated with the second end 18 of the first jaw 1 1 comprise two elongated guiding rails 33 each having an elongated body axis B which are at a mutual angle β when seen in a direction perpendicular to the body axes of the floating pipe sections 2 (substantial tangential direction tx), wherein 1° < β < 25°, or at least 5° < β < 25°. Thereby a divergence in the axial direction ax is created.

Figure 3 shows the device 10 in the closed position in which the device 10 can be locked. Therefore, the device comprises a locking mechanism 40 for locking the second jaw 12 to the first jaw 11 in the locked position. In this way, the floating pipe sections 2 may be locked in position. Any suitable locking mechanism 40 may be used. The locking mechanism 40 may for instance comprise a bolt which may be inserted in bolt receiving opening provided on the first and second jaw 11, 12 and locked with a nut.

The first and second jaw 11, 12 may rotate about a hinge axis H which is substantially parallel to the axial direction ax. By providing a rotatable connection, the first and second jaw 11, 12 may easily be opened to allow insertion of the end part 3 of a floating pipe section 2 and be closed to lock the end part of the floating pipe section into the locking position. For this purpose, a second end 18 of the first jaw is rotatably connected to a first end 20 of the second jaw 12. By rotating about the hinge axis H, a second end 20 of the second jaw 12 can be rotated towards and away from the first end 17 of the first jaw 11.

The guiding rails 33 associated with the second end 18 of the first jaw 11 where the rotatable connection 14 between the first and second jaw 11, 12 may be provided, may have a shortest distance with respect to each other which is greater than the dimension of the second jaw 12 in the axial direction allowing the second jaw 12 to pass in between the guiding rails. The guiding rails 33 associated with the first end 17 of the first jaw 11 where the locking mechanism 40 may be provided may have a shortest distance with respect to each other which is smaller than the dimension of a flange 4 in the axial direction to limit the upper movement of the pipe section 2 when trapped in between the guiding rails 33.

The device 10 can be made of several parts that are assembled at a later stage. Preferably, the guide 30 and the first jaw 11 are formed as an integral device.

According to a preferred embodiment, the floating pipe section 2 has a first and a second end part 3, wherein at least one end part 3 comprises a device 10 as described above. The device 10 can be readily attached to the end part 3 in various ways, for example by welding or by closing the first and second jaw 11, 12.

It is possible that the pipe section 2 has the device 10 provided at only one end part 3. Preferably, both the first and second end part 3 comprises a device 10, wherein the guides 30 of each device 10 have a similar orientation or opposite orientation, i.e. are mutually orientated with the receiving openings 15, 34 of each device facing in the same direction or in opposite directions. By providing the guides in a similar orientation or opposite orientation, it is ensured that after connecting the first end part 3 of a floating pipe section to a neighbouring floating pipe section 2, the guide 30 on the second end part 3 is correctly positioned relative to the pipe section 2 to be connected, for instance the guide 30 is not directed in a downward direction or is not completely below the water surface.

Figures 4a - c schematically depict a method for connecting at least two floating pipe sections 2 according to an embodiment of the invention. Figure 4a shows a first floating pipe section 2 with at least one device 10 on an end part 3 and a second floating pipe section 2 with at least one free end part 3. The first and second floating pipe sections 2 are positioned parallel to and at a lateral distance LD from each other. The end part 3 of the first floating pipe section 2 comprising the device 10 is moved towards the free end part 3 of the second floating pipe section 2 by a movement comprising a component in the radial direction (substantially perpendicular to an axial direction of the first and second floating pipe sections 2). Of course, this may also be done in an opposite way, i.e. moving the free end part 3 of the first floating pipe section 2 towards the end part 3 comprising the device 10 of the second floating pipe section 2 indicated by arrow 6 in Fig. 4a. Also, both the free end part 3 and the end part 3 comprising the device 10 may both move towards each other.

Figure 4b shows the free end part 3 of the second floating pipe section 2 being trapped in the guide 30 of the device 10 and being moved towards the locking position, where the two end parts 3 of the pipe sections 2 are in an adjoining, parallel position, creating a passage for the floating material to be transported through the pipe sections 2. Figure 4c shows the device 10 in a closed position, wherein the second jaw 12 is closed to lock the first and second floating pipe sections 2 in a locked position, providing a liquid-tight connection and a floating pipe system 1. The locking mechanism 40 may be used to lock the first and second jaw 11 in a closed position and to lock the end parts in the opening 15 in a locking position.

The method may further comprise providing and applying further connection members to connect the first and second floating pipe sections 2 and subsequently remove the device 10 by opening the locking mechanism 40, opening the second jaw 12 and removing the device 10.

The further connection members (not shown) may for instance be a plurality of bolts which are inserted in bolt receiving openings 7 provided in the axial direction in the flanges 4 of the floating pipe sections 2 a shown in Fig.'s 2 and 3.

After connecting the first and second pipe section 2, further pipe sections may be connected to the free ends of the first and second pipe section 2 respectively by using the above method.

List of elements

1 pipe system

2 floating pipe sections

3 end part of floating pipe section

4 flange

5 body axis pipe section

6 moving direction pipe sections

7 opening for receiving connection member

10 device for attaching floating pipe sections

1 1 first jaw

12 second jaw

13 receiving groove

14 hinge

15 opening between j aws

16 outer circumference

17 first end of first jaw

18 second end of first j aw

20 first end of second jaw

21 second end of second jaw

30 guide

31 guiding members

33 guiding rails

34 opening between guide members

40 locking mechanism

41 flange outer circumference