Success Story: HPC-Cloud-based simulation of flange tightening

NCC presenting the success story

NCC Spain


Based on previous experience in the field (when no simulations were carried out), a nonoptimized tightening of a 24 stud bolt flange took 108 man-hours while Texas Controls can reduce this type of process to 72 man-hours using simulation. In all this comprises a 33% time saving per flange. Whilst this represents considerable savings in labor costs, the most important outcome is the reduction in downtime of industrial installations such as refineries. Using advanced simulation, a flange can be tightened in 18 hours as opposed to 27 without advanced simulation.

During the shut-down of a hydrocracker, the maintenance and tightening of such heat exchangers are included in the critical path of the shutdown and maintenance projects, so any delay in these operations has a major impact on the final completion date of the commissioning of the hydrocracker unit.

The cost of down time for a medium-sized hydrocracker is about €21k per hour ($500k per day). This means a saving to the end-user of ~€180k because the critical path is shortened to the same extent that the tightening process is optimized.

Key points before agreeing on project:

  • Data confidentiality
  • NDA

Technical/scientific Challenge:

The challenge of this case study was to simulate and optimize the tightening of flanges. This required the development of a computer model for simulating the tightening process and a front-end application to control the simulations in order to improve the design of the tightening process. Given the complexity of the problem, HPC resources were needed to model the tightening process accurately.

Client/user profile:

Texas Controls is a Spanish SME that offers tightening and sealing solutions to large industrial facilities in the industrial, power generation and oil & gas sectors. The mechanical division of Texas Controls is the only engineering company in Spain specializing in tightening and sealing. Its long experience over many years of achieving critical safe mechanical joints, and its ongoing research projects (mechanical simulations, FEM analysis and empirical testing) allow Texas Controls to address critical tasks, offering its customers the highest confidence in the implementation and operation of leak-free and safe flanged joints.


A computer model was developed which represented all the functional parts of a flange including the gasket and the tightening bolts. This model was driven by a user interface, which enabled different tightening scenarios to be evaluated. The model was implemented using both open-source and proprietary simulation codes. Several sizes of case studies were run.


How first contact with a client was established

This project has received funding from the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 951732. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Republic of North Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro