The Truth about Cam-and-Groove Connections

By Mohammad Noful, Product Manager, OPW Engineered Systems | Mar 26, 2020
Cam-and-groove connections have gained wide acceptance in liquid-fluid-transfer applications for their intuitive operability, connection and disconnection efficiency, and low maintenance requirements. Because of these benefits, cam-and-groove connections are used in a wide array of applications including petroleum products, fatty acids, asphalt, and solvents. With that said, they are not recommended for use with gaseous fluids. Specifically, compressed air or steam applications because of the pressure potential energy that can build up and be released should the coupling fail or be opened accidentally. Similarly, cam-and-groove connections are not recommended for use in applications that utilize hazardous and corrosive chemicals; instead, a dry disconnect should be utilized to contain product and diminish emissions.
 

This does not infer that cam-and-groove connections used in the right liquid transfer applications are fail-safe either. Compromised connections can lead to product leaks which are often the most obvious problems perceived. These are not only dangerous for site personnel but can lead – in the worst-case scenario – to the accumulation of prohibitive cleanup and remediation costs. Here are some root causes that indicate compromised cam-and-groove connections, which will necessitate replacement of the couplings and/or their components.

  • Seal incompatibility
    • Problem perceived: product leak; contaminated product
    • Inspection: discolored seal; swollen seal
    • Explanation: chemicals can degrade seals when they are incompatible, leading to diffusion of the chemical into the seal which causes the discoloration and/or swelling
  • Worn adaptor groove
    • Problem perceived: product leak; loose connection
    • Inspection: little force is used to engage the cam arms after mating the coupler and adaptor
    • Explanation: each time the cam arms are pressed down on the mating units, the arms engage the adaptor groove; the metal-to-metal contact causes destructive friction over time and with certain applications, leads to corrosion
  • Worn or unlocked cam arm
    • Problem perceived: product leak; loose connection
    • Inspection: cam arms are not engaged
    • Explanation: if a non-locking cam-and-groove connection is being used, oftentimes, the cam arms will disengage the adaptor groove due to natural vibrations within the system 
OPW Engineered Systems has long been committed to engineering, designing and manufacturing equipment and systems for the safe and efficient loading and unloading of critical, high-value hazardous fluids with the ultimate goal of protecting people and the environment while improving the business performance of its customers.
 

With this in mind, OPW Engineered Systems has developed a complete family of components that feature cam-and-groove connections, including:

  • Kamlok®: The world’s most popular cam-and-groove connection featuring the patented Twin-Kam arm design that holds the adaptor more securely and the Spring-Ring system that ensure proper position of the finger rings for ease of operation.
  • Autolok®: Outfitted with the Twin-Kam system that holds the adaptor more securely and a patented built-in locking system that snaps the locking arms shut with one smooth motion, ensuring the coupler stays secure and shut until it is unlocked.
  • Kamvalok®: Automatically shuts off in the event of an accidental disconnection of the coupler and adaptor; also available in a flat-face model that eliminates the cavities where liquids can pool and be released upon disconnection.

For more information on OPW Engineered Systems and its complete portfolio of quick and dry disconnects with cam-and-groove connections, please visit opw-es.com. For more on OPW Engineered Systems connections, and for any fluid transfer questions, contact Product Manager Mohammad Noful at mohammad.noful@opwglobal.com.

 

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