Seversky Tube Works, located in the forested foothills of the Ural Mountains near Ekaterinburg, is Russia’s biggest steel pipe production factory. It is part of the Pipe Metalurgical Company (TMK), one of the leaders in the global pipe business. Maintaining this leading position, however, is not simply about focusing on massive capital projects. It’s also about providing its customers with pipe products of the highest quality.
Yevgeny Sergeevich Zyryanov, head of Seversky Tube Works’ cutting laboratory, knows this well. Zyryanov is particularly proud of a small solid carbide cutting tool he designed together with Sandvik Coromant engineers to create the pressure-tight threaded connection required for the casings used in gas fields.
This tiny component – not much larger than a coin and weighing about 0.7 ounce – plays an important role in the oil and gas industry.
The specialized insert, which has three cutting teeth and a special geometry for easy disposal of the steel chips, is used for cutting thread in cold-resistant, heavy-alloyed steel pipes used in pumping gas in Siberia.
These high-performance pipes require premium-class threaded connections. The specialized threads prevent gas pumped at high pressures from escaping and are essential for safe and accident-free gas exploration, production and transportation.
Until Zyryanov designed the tool for cutting these high-performance threads on Seversky’s own gas-tight connections, Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom had to buy its pipes from overseas suppliers.
Now, thanks to a component that costs around $40, Gazprom can purchase the pipes from Seversky Tube Works, taking advantage of the transportation cost savings resulting from buying domestically.
Zyryanov talks about his job in the midst of the cavernous (650 by 3,000 feet) hangar that houses the cutting laboratory at Seversky. Zyryanov’s words are all but drowned out by the cacophony of hundreds of steel pipes being moved along processing lines.
“We’re always scanning the market,” he says. “There are many companies that produce metalworking tools, and we are constantly testing products from different companies. We’ve worked as partners with Sandvik Coromant for 11 years now, and the quality and reliability of their tools is what makes them the best. The tools are hard-wearing and versatile. And of course, it is very important for us to work with partners that have their offices in Russia.”
Vladimir Leshukov, regional representative at Sandvik Coromant in Ekaterinburg, worked closely with Zyryanov to resolve the precise technical details required to create the specialized insert, liaising with engineers and designers at the Sandvik Coromant headquarters in Sweden to fine-tune it until everyone was satisfied.
“I usually visit the Seversky Works two or three times a month to discuss the plant’s needs for cutting inserts and to provide information on how we can help with any technical or production questions they have,” says Leshukov.
The Seversky Tube Works started in 1739, and grew up with the town and the local metalworking industry. Today many of the Seversky’s 8,000 factory workers come from families who have worked at the plant for generations.
Zyryanov is no exception. His father, grandfather and great grandfather all worked at Seversky, and he himself has worked there for 25 years, ever since his graduation from Ekaterinburg’s Urals Technical University in metallurgy. His wife, Natalya, is an accountant at the works, and daughter Yelena is an engineer in the research and development department.
Zyryanov enjoys the creative challenge of finding solutions to thorny technical problems. “We have plans to begin working with new grades of steel that have a higher chrome content,” he says. “That will place new demands on quality for the cutting tools we use. The oil and gas industry is always progressing, and it is our job to come up with solutions to the challenges we are given by our customers.”
Seversky Tube Works customers include Russia’s biggest oil and gas companies – Gazprom, Lukoil and TNK BP – as well as companies across Europe, the Middle East, America and Asia – so attention to detail and customer service is everything.
The Seversky Works has recently modernized its steels melting facility, and plans for the future include a massive modernization of the pipe rolling facility. With the adoption of new technologies the company hopes to be able to make a major qualitative and quantitative breakthrough in oil and gas pipe production and an essential reduction in the industry’s impact on the environment.
“Quality and price are the key when choosing a partner,” says Seversky Managing Director Mikhail Zuev. “That’s why we consider Sandvik Coromant our top partner in thread-cutting tools.”
Technical Insights: The key to success
The triangular coated carbide insert used at the Seversky Tube Works to cut specialized high-performance gas-proof threads for cold-resistant heavy-alloyed steel gas pipes goes by the name “thread cutting plate 4125.” The number refers to the grade of steel the tool is designed to work on.
The tiny coin-sized insert measures 0.9 inch on a side and has a width of 0.24 inch and three cutting teeth. It weighs about 0.7 ounce. The insert is designed to cut thread in a patented high-tight pipe connection of premium class.
The customer’s specification was demanding, calling for a tool made with high accuracy that was both hardwearing and capable of giving top performance through some 200 cutting cycles before needing replacement.
“The first challenge in designing the tool was to secure the necessary geometry of the cutting edges in order to produce accurate and precise pipe threads.” says Yevgeny Sergeevich Zyryanov, head of Seversky’s cutting laboratory.
The second challenge, Zyryanov says, was to reduce the number of thread-cutting cycles necessary, “in order to make the cutting process easier and less time-consuming.” The third was figuring out how to fix the insert to the turning tool on a pipe-threading machine.
With the help of Sandvik Coromant engineers those challenges were overcome.
Vladimir Leshukov, the local representative for Sandvik Coromant in Ekaterinburg, recalls:
“We worked closely with Yevgeny Sergeevich, liaising with Sandvik Coromant engineers in Sweden to come up with an insert that had sufficient and smart geometry with a stable, accurate mounting in the turning tool on the pipe-threading machine and specific innovations such as the special
chip-forming geometry behind the cutting teeth to ensure that waste chip was removed without risk of damaging the threads being cut.”
Slightly rounded edges for the cutting edges, suggested by Anatoly Khromov, who works at Sandvik MKTS in Moscow, helped improve cutting durability.
“Everyone in the cutting laboratory gave some input,” says Zyryanov. “We’ve ended up with an insert that does a necessary job and does it well. It is made with a high degree of accuracy, and it lasts twice as long.”
Learn more about Threading Solutions from Sandvik Coromant.
Originally published in Metalworking World 1.2010, a business magazine published by Sandvik Coromant.