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Keeping up the pressure

20 February 2017

Steve Busby, business development director at Oxford Flow discusses how innovations in valve design could help tackle some of the perennial problems in pressure regulation in an industrial setting

Regulating pressure is essential to many processes in the manufacturing industry. The tricky bit is finding the best way of doing it and avoiding the many pitfalls inherent in the use of pressure reducing valves (PRVs).

Lengthening service schedules

One thing to consider when selecting a PRV is its likely service schedule. The modern manufacturing setting is a finely tuned machine and any downtime for equipment repairs – whether scheduled or unscheduled – will inevitably have a knock-on effect on productivity, and ultimately profit.

And unfortunately, many PRVs have fatal flaws which under certain conditions, can hasten their untimely demise. For example, the use of diaphragm-enabled valves can be particularly problematic because the very thing that enables the diaphragm to flex with pressure variables – its limited range of elastomers – also makes it particularly prone to fatigue, erosion, embrittlement and eventually, malfunction.

diaphragm-enabled valves can be particularly problematic

Oxford Flow’s design supersedes these problems by using unique piston-sensing technology which uses only one moving part in order to control pressure. Because of this, it can generally stay in service for longer than conventional diaphragm operated PRVs on the market, with testing suggesting that it can stay in situ for as much as 15 years.

This simplicity of design always means that Oxford Flow’s devices can be manufactured in a variety of materials, particularly relevant to manufacturing businesses handling a variety of corrosive materials.

Size, safety & saving the planet

Often, the bigger the valve, the bigger the headache. Large, unwieldy valves can be tricky to repair and replace and bring with them a host of health and safety considerations for businesses if more than one person or specialist kit is required for installation. Again, Oxford Flow’s technology goes some way towards tackling this issue: A 4” IHF Series valve from Oxford Flow weighs 10kg, whereas 2” valves from leading competitors can weigh as much as 60kg. And in an industry in which businesses finding ways of reducing their environmental footprint is becoming ever more important especially important, this also has a knock-on environmental effect, with less carbon being expended for transport, installation and operation of the valve.

The three Cs

Naturally, performance credentials are among the key things that specifiers will consider when selecting a valve for use in an industrial setting. This is important not only because  – obviously  –  pressure must be kept within set margins in order for equipment and process to work correctly, but also because when things do go wrong the effects can be catastrophic leading to outages, equipment failure and even, in extreme cases, explosions.

Therefore, control, certainty and consistency are the three Cs that those selecting PRVs will assess products by. The aim is always to keep pressure within an optimal range and ensure that it can reach those levels as quickly as possible.

Here again, Oxford Flow’s technology outperforms other models being used in industry, with its various performance benefits including reduced hunting, minimal droop, minimised flow turbulence and reduced minimum pressure head-drop. 

PRVs in the manufacturing sector are like good health. You probably don’t give it much thought when everything is going to plan, but when things go wrong, you certainly know about it.

Therefore valves which can offer improved performance, without sacrificing durability are one of the most important cogs in any manufacturing machine. And in Oxford Flow’s range of PRVs, we think we may just have produced some of the most exciting devices on the market right now.

Key Points

  • When selecting a PRV is important to consider likely service schedules as downtime – scheduled or unscheduled – will have a knock-on effect
  • Large, unwieldy valves can be tricky to repair and replace and bring with them a host of health and safety considerations
  • Performance credentials are among the key things that specifiers will consider when selecting a valve for use in an industrial setting

 
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