Daily challenges

Published:  13 November, 2014

PWE spoke to Durapipe’s valve and flow control department manager Geoff Rogers to discuss the challenges his department is faced with on a daily basis.

No two days are ever the same in Durapipe’s busy valve and flow control division explains Durapipe’s valve and flow control department manager Geoff Rogers; from offering consultancy on product specifications, undertaking training with distributors to building and dispatching valves, the manufacturer says it is never dull work.

The team of specialists that operates the department, explains Rogers, is ready to react to any number of requests, often with very complex requirements and same day deadlines.

He commented that one such challenge recently included a client in the hygiene solution sector, which required a replacement valve for a standard isolation application. The valve itself was not complicated, but the configuration of the system was very complex and required a bespoke solution. The existing system comprised a steel storage tank feeding into plastic pipework, with a flanged steel valve connecting the two, but with two different sized flanges and one an American standard and the other a British standard, its client was struggling to find a product that would fit.

After analysing the application and product requirements, Durapipe discovered that the size of the tank connection was 2” going down to 1 ½“ diameter pipework in a very tight space, so not only was finding a solution for the specific space going to pose a challenge, but the system was also transferring three caustic solutions.

The three chemicals that would be passing through the valve; Sodium Hydroxide Pearl, Trisodium Nitrilo Triacetate and Tetrasodium Ethylenediamine Tetracetate are highly corrosive and so it was crucial to select a valve material that could safely convey the fluids. The company’s chemist reviewed the specific chemicals and advised that a PVC-U valve needed to be used, as this material offers high chemical resistance, allowing the safe transfer of chemical concentrates without fear of corrosion.

Once the material had been selected, the valve technicians identified it was not necessary to have two flanges, or the flange connectors, as with the existing system. As a result, the manufacturer built a bespoke PVC-U double union ball valve, with one flanged end, which fit the tight space constraints and was fully interchangeable with the existing system.

Specifying valves and flow control products for industrial process applications is a complex task, explains Rogers, and with so many options on the market, it can be a minefield trying to select the most appropriate. On a daily basis, Rogers told PWE, that incorrect specifications are made typically when customers specify products on price alone. Often, over-engineered valves can be sold for simple isolation processes, while flow control solutions that do not offer the accuracy levels required of the application could cause major problems in the process once installed. Advice should always be sought when selecting valve and flow control products due to the complex nature of these systems.

Recently when the company received a request for two different sized diaphragm valves to control flow within a process at a wastewater treatment plant, Durapipe investigated the application further before progressing the order. The team discovered that the valves were being used for chemical dosing and so a very precise flow measurement was required to avoid the dangers of too much chemical entering the system. As a result, the Durapipe team recommended the VKR metering ball valve instead, which provides greater accuracy, offering its client reassurance its flow monitoring data is reliable.

With a diaphragm valve, the flow increase is greater or smaller at either the start or the end of the opening cycle, however Rogers says the VKR metering ball valve is linear throughout the full cycle. Installing this valve also means the maximum flow can be increased by up to 37% compared with the diaphragm valve.

Rogers told PWE that site visits are crucial to help clearly understand a client’s needs and so the company’s team regularly visits clients to see first-hand the process and application that is being discussed to ensure it can provide the most effective solution for individual projects.

If a valve within a process plant fails for any reason for example, it will often mean part, or all, of the plant needs to shut down until a replacement valve can be fitted. This downtime can be extremely costly for plant owners so it is crucial the plant is operational again as quickly as possible. It is therefore important to quote, build, test and dispatch a valve within 24 hours, ensuring minimum downtime and disruption.

In such a fast-moving industry, customers are seeking new, immediate ways of receiving information so it is important to engage with customers across a wide range of channels explains Rogers. In addition to physical meetings and sites visits, which are invaluable to understand a customer’s needs, social networking is becoming a popular forum to share knowledge, experience and gain immediate information. With specific industry groups set up to discuss valves, it is possible to offer advice and share real project examples and experiences with others in the industry.

For further information please visit: www.durapipe.co.uk

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