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SADDLES - The PD 5500 Approach

The design of horizontal vessels supported on twin saddles (see Figure 11.12) has been
dealt with by several authors over the years. However, the approach given in PD 5500 is
essentially the work of one man - L P Zick. He used a modified beam and ring analysis so
that the mathematical model for the vessel predicted values which agreed with the
experimental results he had available. More recent experimental work has indicated that
Zick’s treatment for the vessel full of fluid predict stresses which are in reasonable
agreement with the experimental values only when a flexible saddle is employed. When
the saddle is rigid the treatment under-estimates the maximum stresses in the vessel.
These stresses occur at the horn (the highest point on the support) in the circumferential
direction. In some cases they have a magnitude which is double that which occurs when a
flexible saddle is employed.

Figure 11.12 Horizontal vessel with twin saddle supports, hemispherical ends,
3.044 m diameter, 24 m tan to tan length, 78 mm thick, design pressure 99.3 bars,
design temperature -27oC to +38oC
When vessels of this type are supported at more than two cross-sections the support
reactions are significantly affected by small variations in the level of the supports, the
straightness and local roundness of the vessel and the relative stiffness of different parts of
the vessel. Support at two cross-sections is thus to be preferred even if this requires
stiffening of the support region of the vessel.

In this approach one of the supports should be designed at the base, to provide free
horizontal movement, thereby avoiding restraint due to thermal expansion. For very long
vessels multi-saddle supports may be required. An approximate approach to this case is to
derive the support forces and longitudinal moments assuming the vessels behave like a
continuous beam. These values can then be used in the manner outlined below for the
twin support case.

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11.4.1 Longitudinal Bending Moments

To determine expressions for the longitudinal bending moments the approach adopted is to
consider that the vessel behaves like a beam supported at the saddles (see Figure 11.13).
Consideration is given to the additional moment caused by the weight of the dished ends
and by the hydraulic pressure on the ends. The result is shown in Figure 11.14(a). The

distribution of the bending moments and shear forces are shown in Figure 11.14(b) and (c).

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Figure 11.14 Cylindrical vessel acting as a beam over support - PD 5500

11.4.2 Longitudinal Stresses

Longitudinal Stress at Mid-Span

The stress due to the overall mid-span bending moment M3 is calculated by assuming that
the full vessel section is available and that the cross section remains circular, i.e. secondary
bending in the circumferential direction is small. This assumption will be adequate for
most cases. However, for very thin vessels it is found that the cross-section does not
remain circular; especially so during filling with liquid. Furthermore, the axial membrane
compressive forces in the partially full condition are found to be larger than those when the
vessel is full. These vessels, therefore, have a tendency to buckle inwards at the location
of the liquid height during filling. Despite this, experience has shown that for steel and
aluminium alloy vessels with diameter to wall thickness ratio up to 1250/1, the methods
presented herein, based upon the full condition and assuming the cross section to remain
circular, produce designs which are satisfactory for the partially full condition.

In addition to the stress due to the bending moments the vessel cross section is also subject
to an axial stress due to the hydraulic pressure on the ends of the vessel. This corresponds
to pm r 2 t where pm is the internal pressure at the equator (horizontal centre line of the
vessel). The total stresses are thus
(1) at the highest point of the cross-section the stress f1 is given by

pm r M 3 r p r M3
f1 = − = m − (11.8)
2t I 2t π r2 t
(2) at the lowest point of the cross-section the stress f2 is given by

pm r M 3 r p r M3
f2 = + = m + (11.9)
2t I 2t π r2 t

Longitudinal Stress at the Saddles

The stress due to the overall saddle bending moment M4 is calculated on the basis that
only part of the cross-section of the shell at the saddle profile is effective. The effective
part is shown in Figure 11.15. The position of the neutral axis, NA, and the second
moment of area INA about the axis can be found. To this stress, which arises from the

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longitudinal bending moment M4 must be added the longitudinal stress due to the end
pressure, as before.

Stress at the highest point, of the effective cross-section, f3 is given by

p r M4 p r M4
f3 = m + yT = m − (11.10)
2t I NA 2t K1 π r 2 t

The values of K1 are given in PD 5500 in Table G., reproduced in these notes as
Table 11.1.
It should be noted that when the full section is available K1 = 1

Stress at the lowest point of the cross-section, f4 is given by

pm r M4 p r M4
f4 = + yC = m + (11.11)
2t I NA 2t K2 π r 2 t

The value of K2 is also shown in Table 11.1

Allowable Stresses

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The calculated stresses f1 to f4 which are essentially membrane stresses in the axial
direction, that is they are σ z , together with the circumferential membrane stress
σ θ = p r t have to satisfy two requirements:

(1) the general primary membrane stress intensity, acting at the various points and for the
different fill conditions, shall be taken as the greater of

σ θ − σ z ; σ z + 0 .5 p ; σ θ + 0 .5 p
this shall not exceed the design stress, f.
(2) to avoid buckling of the vessel the longitudinal compressive membrane stress, σ z ,
shall not exceed ∆ s f , where ∆ is obtained from the section in the Standard (PD
5500) dealing with external pressure loading.

It should be noted that if the longitudinal stresses in the saddle region exceed the allowable
stress then rings may be placed in the saddle centre profile - Table 11.1 show the
influence of such on the values of K1 and K2

11.4.3 Shearing Stresses

As the bending moment varies along the length of the vessel, so also does the longitudinal
stress. The effect of this is to introduce longitudinal shear stress together with
complementary shear stress which occurs in the plane of the cross-section. The
distribution of the shear force is given earlier in Figure 11.14 (b). The inner saddle shear
force is invariably the greater since L > 4 A + 4 3 b . In which case the value is given by

W1 ( L − 2 A)
( L + 4 b 3)
The saddle region of the vessel may be either unstiffened (i.e. left as a plain cylinder) or
stiffened with rings. The values of the shearing stresses for both these cases have to be

Shell Stiffened with Rings in the Plane of the Saddle or Stiffened by being Located near the
Ends i.e. A ≤ r 2

In this case the full vessel cross-section is available to carry the shear stress q, thus

V r2
q =− sin φ
I oo

where, V is the shear force and Ioo is the second moment of area of the full cross-section of
the cylinder. That is,

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K 3 W1  L − 2 A 
q max =  
r t  ( L + 4 b 3) 

where K3 = 1 π = 0 ⋅ 318

Shell in the Saddle Region A > r 2 and Unstiffened by Rings

When the shell is free to deform above the saddles, it is considered that the shear stress
acts on a reduced cross-section. As in the case of the longitudinal stresses, the upper
portion of the shell is considered as being ineffective in carrying shear. The shears in the
effective portion, that is close to the saddle, will therefore, be increased. The form of the
shear stress remains the same - that is equation 11.12 - but the value of the factor K3 is
increased. The values are shown in PD 5500 in Table G. for the various saddle
angles. This is reproduced in these notes as Table 11.2

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Table 11.2 Design factors K3 and K4 and allowable shearing stresses

The Standard also provides details by which the shear stress in the dished end and also in
the shell may be obtained, when the saddle is located near the head.
Allowable Shear Stresses

These values are given above in Table 11.2 (Table G. of PD 5500). In this the

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smaller of 0 ⋅ 8 f , which is derived from strain gauge tests by Zick, and 0 ⋅ 06 E t r ,

should be taken as the allowable shear stress. The latter value has its origins in the
avoidance of shear buckling in the region of the support in vessels with a high r t ratio
(up to 625 : 1).

11.4.4 Circumferential Stresses for a Shell not Stiffened by Rings.

Important values of circumferential stress occur at two locations in the vessel, both in the
saddle centre profile. The first is at the lowest point of the cross-section, known as the
nadir. The second, by far the most important, is at the saddle horn (i.e. the highest point of
the saddle support).

Stress at the Nadir

The circumferential stress, given in the Standard (PD 5500), at this point is obtained by
summing the shear stresses in the saddle region. The width of the shell that resists this
force was considered by Zick to be the saddle width plus 5t on either side, i.e. ( b1 + 10 t ) .
Thus, the circumferential stress at the nadir is given as,

K5 W1
f5 = −
t ( b1 + 10 t ) (11.13)
The values of K5 are given in Table G. of PD 5500, provided here in Table 11.3.

Table 11.3 Values of Constants.

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It should be noted that when the saddle is welded to the vessel the values of K5 given in
the Table 11.3 (G. of PD 5500) should be taken as one-tenth of this value. When
loose saddles are employed the full values from the Table should be used.

Allowable Value for Circumferential Stress at Nadir

When the saddle is welded to the vessel the value of f5 should not exceed the design
stress f.

When the saddle is not welded to the vessel the value of f5 should not exceed ε E 3 ,
where ε is the circumferential buckling strain. The value of this is obtained from the
equation given in Figure 3.6(2) (of PD 5500), which in turn uses the n value from Figure
3.6(1). In this derivation the value of L 2 R always equals 0.2, both in Figure 3.6(1) and
in equation in Figure 3.6(2). Further explanation of this method is found in the book
‘Pressure Vessel Design - Concepts and Principles’ by Spence and Tooth.

Stress at the Horn of the Saddle

The analysis of Zick assumes the shell in the region of the saddle to be an arch built in at
the abutments (that is the horn) and loaded with shear stress q = (V π r ) sin φ . This is a
redundant structure which can readily be solved. The resulting distribution of the bending
moment Mφ is shown in Figure 11.16.

Figure 11.16 Distribution of circumferential moment resulting from the application of

shear stress round the arc and in the plane of the shell.

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In all cases the maximum value of Mφ occurs at the horn B which is identified in PD 5500
at an angle β from the zenith, i.e. M β = K6 W1 r . Values of K6 are given in Table 11.4
below, which is taken from Table G. (PD 5500). Those for A r ≥ 1 ⋅ 0 are
derived from the above analysis (the ring loaded with a shear stress). When A r < 0 ⋅ 5
the above factors are divided by 4. The variation in the range 0 ⋅ 5 < A r < 1 is assumed

Bending stress at the horn.

Having obtained the bending moment at points round the ‘ring’, i.e. the shell in the region
of the saddle, we now have to determine the stress. This is the same problem we had
earlier for the axial and the shear stresses. In these earlier cases we obtained the bending
moment and the shear force relatively easily, but had to use a measure of scientific
‘cunning’ to find the stresses corresponding to these. We have to do the same here.

Zick made the assumption that a certain width (i.e. axial length) of shell was effective in
resisting the moment Mβ - see Figure 11.17.

Figure 11.17 Diagrammatic representation of width of vessel resisting Mβ

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He found that if the effective width was four times the shell radius or equal to one half the
length of the vessel, whichever is the smaller, then the resulting stresses agreed
conservatively with the results from strain gauge surveys.
That is if L ≥ 8 r , the bending component of the circumferential stress is given by:
( t 2)
( Mβ 4 r)
( t 12)

[Note this corresponds to the ‘Engineers Bending’ relationship M y I ].

This expression simplifies to

3 3 3
M β r t 2 = K6 W1 r r t 2 = K6 W1 t 2 (11.14)
2 2 2

When L < 8 r , the bending component of the circumferential stress is given by:

 Mβ  t 2 12
  3 = 12 M β L t 2 = K 6 W1 r (11.15)
 L 2  t 12 L t2

In the above equation the effective width is taken as L 2

Direct stress at the horn

The direct component of the circumferential stress at the horns can be obtained in a similar
semi-empirical manner by first of all obtaining the direct thrust at the horn, and then by
allowing this to be carried over an effective width of shell. However, in this case Zick
proposed that the direct load at the horns be W1 4 distributed over the portion of the shell
stiffened by the contact of the saddle, i.e. ( b1 + 10 t ) . Using this approach the direct
component of the circumferential stress is assumed to be:

4 t ( b1 + 10 t ) (11.16)

Total circumferential stress at the horns L r ≥ 8

Combining equations (11.14), (11.15) and (11.16) where appropriate, gives the maximum
stress at the horn on the outer surface:

W1 3 W
For L r ≥ 8 ; f6 = − − K6 1
4 t ( b1 + 10 t ) 2 t2

W1 12
For L r < 8 ; f6 = − − K6 W1 r
4 t ( b1 + 10 t ) L t 2 (11.18)

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The stresses may be reduced if necessary by extending the saddle plate as shown in Figure
11.18 (a) to that shown in Figure 11.18 (b). [These are Fig G.3(14) of PD 5500.].
It is recommended that the thickness of the saddle plate in the case of steel vessels should
be equal to the thickness of the vessel shell plate. If the width of this plate is not less than
b1 + 10 t and subtends an angle not less than ( θ + 12o ) , the reduced stresses in the shell
at the edge of the saddle can be obtained by substituting the combined thickness of vessel
and saddle plate into the relevant equation, using a saddle angle of θ . A second check
must also be carried out to determine the stress in the vessel at the edge of the top plate. In
this case a saddle angle of ( θ + 12o ) may be used to derive the K6 value; thereafter the
actual vessel thickness must be used in the equations (11.17) and (11.18).

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Figure 11.18 (a) Simple saddle support, (b) saddle support with extended plate.
The appropriate pages of the Standard (PD 5500) give further details of the above.

Allowable circumferential stress in horn region

The numerical value of f6 found from the above calculations should not exceed 1.25 f,
where f is the design stress of the vessel material.

11.4.5 Stiffening Rings in the Region of the Saddle

If the circumferential stress, derived as

above, exceeds the allowable the

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designer has a number of options. One Figure 11.19 Typical ring stiffeners
of these is to weld ring stiffeners to the
shell. These may be placed in the plane
of the saddle or adjacent to the saddle on
either the inside or the outside of the
vessel as shown in Figure 11.19 (a), (b)
and (c). These figures are Fig. G.3 (15)
of PD 5500.

The analysis presented previously where

the vessel is treated as an arch in the
saddle region loaded with a shear stress
is used to analyse this case. The
maximum bending moment occurs at the
horn, i.e. M β = K6 W1 r . In this case
the moment is assumed to be carried by
the stiffener and part of the plate equal
to 5 t on either side - shown shaded in
Figure 11.19. In some ways the case of
the ring stiffener is easier to analyse, in
that there is less dubiety as to way the
bending moment is carried.

The direct force is analysed more exactly

than is the case for the unstiffened
vessel, since again there is less
uncertainty concerning the way in which
the force is carried.

The Standard (PD 5500) presents the

design approach in detail; this can be
found on page G/63, section G.
The numerical values of the maximum
circumferential stresses should not
exceed 1 ⋅ 25 f .

When rings are used on the outside of a vessel in the plane of the saddle, it is usual to
use the rings as part of an integrated support system, as shown in Figure 11.20.
Arrangements of this type are referred to as a ‘ring and leg’ support. The stresses in the
vessel away from the saddle are given by the same relationships obtained earlier. As with
the unstiffened vessel a shear stress is applied to the vessel and ring combination, with the
support at the intersection of the load and the centroid diameter of the ring.

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A typical result for the bending moment distribution for this case is shown in Figure 11.21.
From this type of analysis the maximum values of the bending moment for various
supporting angles can be found. The resulting stresses are provided in the Standard (PD
5500) in terms of the least section modulus and effective area of the ring. The details are
given on page G/64.
[Note the section modulus = (Second moment of area, I)/(distance to fibre, y)]

Figure 11.21 Variation of circumferential moment for the case of a support at φ 1 = 60 o

11.4.6 Design Modifications to Reduce the Max. Circumferential Stress at the Horn

When the calculated value of the maximum circumferential stress f6 is greater than the
allowable stress a number of options are available to the designer. These are set down

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(1) Increase the saddle angle.

In the Standard (PD 5500) a range of preferred saddle angles are given - 120 to
150o. It is also possible to increase the effective saddle angle by increasing the
angle of the top plate by 12o, that is a saddle angle of 162o. This is an effective
method, since K6 is influence considerably by the angle of support.

(2) Increase the saddle width.

Increasing the width only effects the first term in the equations for f6 and is not
too satisfactory .

(3) Increase the shell thickness.

This is effective but rather expensive, unless the increased thickness is confined
to the region of the saddle. Details of using a ‘thickened strake’ in the saddle
region are now given in PD 5500.

(4) Move the saddles nearer to the ends.

The value of K6 is influenced by the A value, so this is a useful approach - it
does not cost any more, although it is necessary to check the axial stresses in
the mid-span position, since the distance between the saddles is now increased.

(5) Welding stiffening rings in the saddle region.

This method was discussed earlier. It is effective, but costly and could lead to a
fatigue problem in the region of the circumferential welding between the ring
and the vessel.

The question has to be answered for each case and is often a balance between material cost
and the labour cost involved. The designer is at the forefront of such decision making.