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Mastering the art and science of FCCU constructability issues

ltairStrickland has been managing and executing turnarounds and revamps since its inception in 1976. While refineries have become more complex and more congested, footprints have pretty much remained the same. This complicates project execution and raises multiple constructability issues. Add in the concern for quality, safety, schedule and budget and youve got a multidimensional scope. AltairStrickland has always stressed that preplanning is a key to the door of success. Jim Robinson, one of the founders of AltairStrickland, and Whitney Strickland addressed several areas of constructability at the first annual seminar that was held in League City, Texas, recently. Here is a sampling of some of the issues they addressed. original plate type air grid. The original scope called for installing the trunk of the grid into the existing cone section, however, there was no access for welding or for weld inspection if the trunk grid was to be installed in this manner. AltairStrickland went the extra mile. They carefully made a mock-up of the equipment so they could demonstrate the problem; this prompted the owner to procure a new cone section. Still, the installation was difficult. The structural steel came up to the tangent line, there were several big beams that could not be removed, there was an upper constraint layer of dip leg bracing and some trickle valves had to be removed. The beams were redesigned with notches to allow as much height as possible. Two air hoists on trolleys were used as part of the rigging so the equipment could be taken from the crane and led through the door sheet. Beams were needed to support the door sheet and rigging devices. The cone section was installed with the lower part of the trunk. The air grid was brought in so the two back lateral arms could be installed first followed by installation of the two front lateral arms. Each piece of air grid weighed about 26,000 pounds and the cone section weighed in at 28,000 pounds.


Equipment installation through door sheets The first area they addressed was equipment installation through door sheets. To set the stage they cited an FCCU revamp case history of an air grid installation. The complete revamp scope was extensive and included: Installation of regenerator lower cone section. Replacement of regenerator air grid. Replacement of feed section on riser. Replaced reactor trickle valves. Flue gas line repairs. Knife gate valve repairs. Extensive refractory work. Miscellaneous maintenance work. The main constructability issues concerned the installation of the regenerator in the lower cone section and replacing the risers feed section. The FCCU still had the

Like a virtual tour, AltairStrickland uses its AutoCADTM capabilities to walk clients through tricky removal/ installation projects.


Door sheet installation involving regenerator cyclones Another door sheet installation also involved regenerator cyclones. In this case the project was a major RFCCU revamp in Canada. AltairStrickland was initially contacted to plan, manage

Beams were needed to support the door sheet and rigging devices. The cone section was installed with the lower part of the trunk. The air grid was brought in so that the two back lateral arms could be installed first followed by installation of the two front lateral arms. Each piece of air grid weighed about 26,000 pounds and the cone section weighed in at 28,000 pounds.

and execute the project, but due to an inlets. unexpected financial situation and union Coke anchors added to the reactor issues, AltairStricklands role changed cyclones. and they became a consultant to the Removal and replacement of reactor owner and the union contractor. This was first stage cyclone dip legs and dustthe plants first major revamp since the bowls complete with trickle valves. RFCCU had been commissioned in 2000. Installation of two new 36-inch man Robinson and six AltairStrickland superways on the reactor. visors participated in the consultation. The first issue to be addressed was The complete scope included: the impracticality of the existing door Removal and replacement of the sheet support beam design. A third-parfirst stage regenerator along with prity engineering company had originally mary and secondary cyclones (six each). designed beams that were way too heavy Removal and replacement of exterand unwieldy. AltairStrickland worked nal risers (two each). with the owner and their engineering Removal and replacement of regencontractor to design a beam that was erated catalyst slide valves (two each). lighter in weight, but still provided the Removal and replacement of regenneeded support. erated catalyst standpipes (two each) and Next, the AltairStrickland team wye sections (two each). helped design a removal and installa Removal and replacement of the tion system so the cyclones could be (Continued on next page) rough cut cyclones (four each) complete with overhead vapor lines and crossovers (three sisters). Removal and replacements of second-stage regenerator withdrawal wells (two each) complete with overhead lines and nozzles. Installation of erosion-resistant AltairStrickland had input into the AltairStrickland participated in the refractory on reactor design of a more practical door sheet design of a rail system to aid cyclone removal/installation. first stage cyclone support beam.
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more easily removed and new cyclones installed. There were several dimensional constraints that had to be considered. First was the placement of the opening. This was critical so that equipment could be removed and installed without hitting the flue gas line. The system used Hillman rollers and plating. AltairStrickland used its in-house AutoCAD capabilities to walk the owners and contractors through a virtual removal/installation. They also provided precise instructions/drawings on lug placement and refractory chipping for the rigging of the air hoists. There were two other areas of concern to AltairStrickland. They were of such concern that the team made actual models to make sure a welder could access the crossover on the bottom of the primary and secondary cyclones. The models revealed a definite problem. The stiffening ribs on the crossovers did not allow for a man to enter and work properly. The original equipment vendor was contacted, but reported back that it was not possible to remove the stiffening ribs. Undaunted by the news, the team devised another solution; during the preturnaround period, the stiffening ribs were removed and the area was weld prepped. This allowed needed access during the installation.

This FCCU revamp involved the replacement of nearly 80 percent of the equipment in the structure. Major structure modifications during predown and turnaround schedule. Because the crawler was suddenly unavailable, AltairStrickland revised the entire plan utilizing the TC24000 from Deep South Crane. The new plan was extensive and included having the tailing rig constantly move in and out of the space where the precipitator now sits so equipment could be removed and new equipment installed. Jig stands were set up on the road perpendicular to the unit to allow the regenerator head and cyclones to be fabricated on site. The area was so tight the crane boom had to be assembled over the pipe rack.


Crane considerations When AltairStrickland was hired, this new client already had selected a crane they wanted to use to lift the 600,000-pound reactor. The crane they had in mind required a major freeway be shut down during the heavy lifts. AltairStrickland studied all aspects of the lift and suggested a 660-ton crawler crane could perform the job without the hassle and expense of shutting down the freeway. The client agreed and the lift came off without a hitch.


Major equipment installation A new client approached AltairStrickland for an FCCU revamp. In this case, the scope included: New head and cyclones in the regenerator. Installation of a new reactor. Tie-ins to the FCC for a new scrubber. Flue gas cooler work. Major structure work. The client envisioned installing the combustor riser distributor cap before installing the head and cyclone assemblies. AltairStrickland presented preliminary drawings showing the concept would not work with the secondary trickle valves on. Instead, they proposed the cap be installed with the head and cyclone assembly. The client agreed. The project was completed successfully and the satisfied client has since awarded AltairStrickland other jobs.


Solutions to problematic crane installations

For another client, AltairStrickland did a 3-D survey of the construction area then modeled it in AutoCADTM, which revealed a better way to lift the 690,000-pound FCC reactor.


Jig stand usage Another project involved the installation of a new reactor, new regenerator cyclone pairs, dust bowls and diplegs. Although in this instance the client thought it necessary to use multiple jig stands, AltairStrickland used their 3-D AutoCAD to show only one jig stand was needed for a new reactor in which all platforms, most of the piping, and instrumentation could be installed. Another jig stand was used for the regenerator during the turnaround. The client was well pleased with the outcome. However, it should be noted that AltairStrickland has many parts and pieces ready made for
Because of their specialization, AltairStrickland has many parts and pieces ready made for jig stands that can accommodate various sizes of regenerators and reactors. But in this case, they recommended only one for the reactor and another for the regenerator.

Due to the lack of space, AltairStrickland had the crane boom assembled over the pipe rack.

In another case history, AltairStrickland had worked often at this refinery since the late 1970s. Because of the refinerys age and tight footprint it is difficult to maneuver. There is only one way in or out of the FCCU. The owner had contacted AltairStrickland one year prior to the turnaround start date and AltairStrickland decided to use a crawler crane, but just one month prior to the turnaround, the crawler became unavailable. The scope included: New regenerator shell, head and cyclones. New combustor. New stripper. New cat hopper. Removal and installation of fin fan coolers. Tie-ins for a new scrubber. All new lines under the combustor. 12
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jig stands that can accommodate various sizes of regenerators and reactors. Adapting to the unexpected is an AltairStrickland added specialty. To see a video of their presentation at the first annual seminar, go to, or to learn more about AltairStricklands full range of services, contact Whitney Strickland at (281) 478-6200.

AltairStrickland 1605 S. Battleground La Porte, TX 77571

This photo shows the new reactor stripper. The tailing rig was a Manitowoc M230 that had to be moved in and out of a very small area to allow equipment to get in and out of the FCCU.