Targeting upstream and midstream applications, Ariel looks to improve the own-and-operate experience with its newest compressor.
By Brent Haight
Leveraging decades of experience and advances in technology, Ariel Corp. has introduced the KBK:T. Targeting the midstream and upstream compressor markets, the KBK:T fits between Ariel’s JGK:T and JGC:D:F frames, bringing higher rod load and horsepower capabilities, along with longer strokes than the JGK:T, while fitting in a similar footprint. Available in 2, 4, and 6-throw configurations, the KBK offers up to 5520 hp (4116 kW) at 1200 and 1500 rpm.
“Looking at our existing portfolio, there was a bit of a horsepower gap between the JGK:T and JGC:D:F product lines,” said Robert Drews, director of marketing at Ariel. “It’s appropriate for us to have a product in that power range.” “It was also our interest to bring additional value,” said Joe Fernandez, manager of application engineering at Ariel. “So, while there was a horsepower need there, we were also looking to bring additional value to our lease-fleet customers, such as higher horsepower density, increased rod load, and a stiffer frame. Ultimately, we are looking to improve the own-and-operate experience. The increased rod load gives operators increased or added flexibility, so whether it’s suction or discharge pressures, the rod load will give them additional flexibility in the pressure range that they require.”
The KBK:T frames have a 6-in. (152.44-mm) and 5-in. (127-mm) stroke. According to Fernandez, the combination of stroke and rated gas rod load values enhance the allowable compressor-operating map while optimizing the use of available driver horsepower.
“With more powerful drivers hitting the market, and applications requiring additional compressor capabilities, the KBK:T allows more power for customers who need a JGK:T sized compressor,” said Fernandez. “The KBK:T is designed to handle the increasing demands of the market while maintaining the portability of the JGK:T products.”
“We’re also looking toward the future to potentially upgrade engines and getting ready for that,” added Drews. “When you look at driver matchup, Waukesha’s new VHP Series 5 engine is a very good engine-compressor match for the KBK at 1200 rpm. Caterpillar’s 3520 is a solid matchup for the KBT. The 6-in. stroke KBK is an ideal fit for natural gas engines and 1200-rpm motors. The 5-in. stroke of the KBT allows for a maximum operating speed of 1500 rpm. That will enable it to work well with 1400-rpm engines and the 1500-rpm motors that are common outside North America.”
“We are continually learning,” said Fernandez. “We are continually listening to our customers. Over the course of the last 50 years we’ve learned how to make frames stiffer, how to make them less likely to vibrate. We also have the capabilities in our manufacturing facility, through advances in machining and casting, to make a stronger frame without increasing its footprint. In the case of the KBK:T, we’ve been able to create a more robust, stiffer frame in a similar footprint as the JGK. Our design team incorporated the knowledge that we have learned over the years. The angled design of the crosshead guides and through-bolt support fasteners of the KB series brings increased stability under higher rod loads. The pistons, piston rods, crossheads, and connecting rods have been redesigned for improved load carry capability as well.”
The KBK:T utilizes a new cylinder class lineup equipped with internal components design-rated to provide the same or improved reliability when operating at the design ratings. “The increased rod load allows us to utilize higher working-pressure cylinders,” said Fernandez. “It allows us to use higher-pressure cylinders from our current product line.”
The KBK:T is designed to accommodate an optional internal torsional vibration damper on the crankshaft to minimize torsional vibrations, which might otherwise limit the operational range of the machine. “This damper, when installed, reduces or eliminates those problems, allowing the compressor to operate over a broader range of operating conditions,” said Fernandez. “It’s not always going to be needed but is available when the torsional analysis shows it to be beneficial.”
Ease of maintenance was a priority in the KBK:T design. Auxiliary end piping has been simplified by integrating the frame oil thermostat into the oil filter header. “The new positioning of the oil thermostat makes it much easier for someone to work on the oil system and the frame in general,” said Fernandez. “Putting the thermostat into the filter housing is a first for Ariel and greatly improves maintenance and reliability. It simplifies the piping, which, in turn, allows easier access to the auxiliary end of the frame. This feature, among some of the other new developments introduced with the KBK:T, will be implemented going forward in our other units.”
Paper gaskets have been replaced with O-rings on the top cover and side doors, eliminating the tearing of paper gaskets that can occur during maintenance intervals.
KBK:T crossheads, connecting rods, and bearings are all backward-compatible with JGK:T frames.
“We shared some components or made components backward-compatible between the KBK:T and the JGK:T so fleet operators don’t have to keep two sets of parts on the shelf,” said Drews. “The philosophy is to have shared components and to support both of these product lines going into the future, making it easier for operators to maintain parts inventory and perform maintenance.”
“The JGK and the JGT are extremely field-proven, reliable machines. They are a cornerstone of Ariel’s product line. So that’s our benchmark, and that was the objective that we believe we met with obtaining that same level of reliability, while providing the higher ratings and improved flexibility with the new products,” added Fernandez.
“We’ve been able to take what we’ve learned and demonstrated in our installed base of equipment and leverage that into this new product line,” said Drews. “We demonstrate continuous improvement in all the facets of our operation, and the KBK:T is an example of that. There’s a mindset of continuous improvement throughout the company. It’s not just in our manufacturing and improving how we manufacture, it’s also improving the product lines that we bring to the market and improving how we support the product line – not only from an inventory standpoint, but also throughout our tech services group and our distribution network. It goes beyond the KBK:T; it’s really the discipline that the company has operated with for 50 years.”
This article was first published in the June 2018 Compression Magazine (p. XX). Free to subscribe and free to renew, Gas Compression Magazine is your link to the global gas compression market. Delivered monthly, Gas Compression Magazine is available in print and digital delivery.
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