Reliability is very much a science, not an art. They deliver unrivalled subsea cable and connector reliability by amalgamating advanced chemistry with pioneering thermoplastic pressure moulding techniques. Above all the company understands that reliability comes down to one very important technical detail: moulded terminations that will not fail; and all successful moulded terminations are based on a combination of different aspects of science and an understanding of the interaction between them. The science of adhesion lies at the intersection of physics, chemistry and mechanics.
The desire to hold different surfaces together dates back millennia. Early humans made tools and weapons using beeswax, tree resins or blood mixed with stone-based inorganics to bind different parts together. But until very recently, it was very much a case of trial and error. The emergence of modern science would revolutionise how people approached the age-old problem of binding objects together. In the 1840s, the science was sufficiently advanced that an industry of synthetic bonding agents was born. SMI stands in that tradition, but also brings it into the 21st century with innovative solutions to the challenges thrown up by modern subsea industry.
Mouldings rely on a chemical covalent bond to the main connector or gland housing, combined with the subsea cable. Numerous factors, operating at the atomic level, can affect durability of this bond. That is why it is critical to put in place a rigid, controlled process of surface preparation before bonding. Then, adhesion is initiated by wetting the surface and activating a primer.
Primer activation can be achieved by chemical reactions initiated by factors like heat, pressure, curing agent or UV light. Curing time, rate and temperature must be optimal to avoid both under and over curing, resulting in incorrect polymerisation. Humidity, air quality, or pH can also adversely affect primer curing. And when exposed to the sea, metals on the structure are subject to a number of corrosive reactions.
One example of how these effects can adversely impact bonding is a condition in the structure components called ‘cathodic delamination’ which strips layers of plastic from a laminated metal surface.
SMI have developed a generation of thermoplastic pressure mouldings of polymers that offer a higher level of sealing integrity when combined with advanced chemistry of covalence and material selection. The thermoplastic pressure moulding process relies on complex tooling and process parameters to achieve higher integrity without compromising on reliability.
A thermoplastic process involves a high-pressure molten material being forced into a high-temperature tool to achieve the desired moulding shape in conjunction with the connector housing.
SMI’s advanced processes use this high temperature and pressure to achieve the high bonding performance of the thermoplastic polymers. During this process there are many factors that if not controlled will result in a failed termination, such as internal voids, inclusions, cracks, sinks, poor adhesion, poor amalgamation and internal subsea cable faults like open circuits and insulation breakdown. A proper understanding of the thermoplastic properties of the materials and the chemistry involved in achieving a successful termination means these faults can be avoided.
For example, corrosive issues such as cathodic delamination can be overcome by a better understanding of the chemical reactiveness of the materials used. Replacing metallic components with non-metallic materials with a high level of inertness and rigidity can reduce the effects of cathodic delamination and other corrosion effects.
Non-metallic components with Polyethylene and Polyurethane mouldings are shown on the outside of the frame. The sacrificial anode is at the centre of the frame.
SMI know all about long-term reliability, which is why their thermoplastic technology has been used around the globe for decades on submarines and ships. That same technology has obvious applications in tidal turbines and for offshore wind energy – and indeed any industry that depends on cables to conduct power and data in hostile environments. The amalgamation of advanced chemistry and thermoplastic pressure moulding techniques ensures an unrivalled subsea cable and connector reliability is delivered with fit and forget: 10,000 installations and zero leaks. Bound to succeed!
Scientific Management International were delighted recently to host MP for North West Hampshire, Kit Malthouse for a tour of their Andover headquarters.
Mr Malthouse was visiting following the inclusion of Scientific Management International in this years Parliamentary Review. The publication is a yearly indispensable guide to industry best practice which demonstrates how sector leaders have responded to challenges in the political and economic environment, and includes sector specific insight from the Prime Minister, Secretaries of State and MPs.
Scientific Management International are representing the Defence industry and their inclusion this year is particularly pertinent for the company as they celebrate 20 years of uninterrupted Capability Approval from the MoD for their through hull penetrator Pressure Hull Glands – a world first.
During his visit, Kit met with a number of the manufacturing staff on the factory floor where all manufacturing is completed by SMI within their Andover HQ. This highly skilled work is helping to create enviable levels of expertise within the workforce and significant training and investment into the local economy.
Kit was escorted around the factory by CEO Keith Wells and Chairman Martin Stillman-Jones as 2 members of the Scientific Management International board who were on hand to explain the cutting edge technology taking place.
Keith said “We were delighted to show Kit around our H.Q. and introduce him to our extraordinary team who are the secret behind our success. Our products are often mission critical meaning if they were to fail then lives could be at stake, but with this team of people working with us we can truly ‘fit and forget’.”
Another reason for Kit’s visit was to outline SMI’s plans for expansion on site due to an increased order book and continued R&D into new sectors. This expansion is great news for the local economy and is keeping the highly skilled team who are so important local.
SMI have a 25 year unblemished record for reliability established across 10,000 installations – with zero leaks!
We are the preferred supplier for through-hull penetrators and connectors to the UK’s nuclear submarine and surface fleets, in addition to installations in telecoms, energy and rail infrastructures. ISO 9001:2008 approved we are the ONLY company to continuously hold a Ministry of Defence Capability Approval Certificate for the last 20 years.
Unparalleled product performance is accompanied by dedicated Account Management Teams who work with Customers hand in glove from an early design stage to offer bespoke, precise, best of breed solutions. Fully supported by in-house Design Teams, Pressure Testing & QA Teams and Engineering Teams, plus state of the art 5S JIT manufacturing facilities. We provide timely delivery with “right first time, every time” deployment.
Scientific Management International
bespoke, precise, right first time, every time, fit and forget!
Scientific Management International offer dedicated Account Managers who work with Customers from an early stage to fully understand every deployment. They're backed by our in-house design teams, leading edge testing facilities and highly experienced engineering teams to develop bespoke solutions that are right first time, every time. Manufactured in our 5S JIT facility, our SC21 record demonstrates near 100% delivery on time - with zero leaks!