Our valve and flow control department is celebrating a record year; department manager Geoff Rogers discusses the secret to its success.
A jewel in the Durapipe UK crown, our valve and flow control department has exceeded expectation this year, smashing all of its annual targets by September. Putting the spotlight on the department, Geoff Rogers discusses the challenges faced on a daily basis.
No two days are ever the same in Durapipe’s busy valve and flow control division; from offering consultancy on product specifications, undertaking training with distributors to building and dispatching valves, it is never dull work.
The team of specialists that operates the department is ready to react to any number of requests, often with very complex requirements and same day deadlines. The ability to offer an effective solution and deliver at short notice is the reason the department has such high customer retention levels.
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, the 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. Durapipe’s company 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 and with so many options on the market, it can be a minefield trying to select the most appropriate. On a daily basis 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 receiving a request for two different sized diaphragm valves to control flow within a process at a waste water 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 team recommended the VKR metering ball valve instead, which provides greater accuracy, offering the client complete 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 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 percent compared with the diaphragm valve.
Site visits are crucial to help clearly understand a client’s needs and so the 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.
It is not just the team working directly for Durapipe that needs to understand the products, companies and individuals acting on the manufacturer’s behalf should be just as knowledgeable. As a result, the company invests in training its network of distributors across the UK, in not only product knowledge, but also how actuated valves are assembled from component parts, so they can understand the process involved in getting the right product to the customer.
It is the manufacturer’s 24 hour turnaround service that sets it apart from competitors and sees customers returning time and again. If a valve within a process plant fails for any reason, 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. Durapipe strives to quote, build, test and dispatch a valve within 24 hours, ensuring minimum downtime and disruption for customers. With all products built to order, it is very rare that a request cannot be fulfilled.
The team also makes time to offer advice to consultants, contractors, engineers and plant managers across a variety of channels. 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. 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, the team often offers advice and shares real project examples and experiences with others in the industry.