Valve safety and the implementation of best practices go hand-in-hand. Achieving valve safety in the industrial workplace is accomplished with best practices in accordance with the specific valve type. In turn, choosing the correct valve type is dependent upon the application the valve will be applied to, as well as the process type flowing through the system, the pressure rating, and the associated components.
Essential to achieving valve safety is knowing what type of valve should be utilized, in what manner it should be installed, the proper packing, and how the valve must be packed to achieve an energy efficient, safe result; and sealing surfaces are another important aspect of maintaining efficient conditions in association with various valve types. One great resource for sealing information is the Fluid Sealing Association, which has developed an industrial knowledge base providing resources such as technical papers and education and training source details.
Valve Testing Services Improve Valve Safety
Specialized valve companies sometimes offer testing services and facilities to aid in the process of achieving valve safety and effective operating conditions. These valve industry experts are instrumental in helping through the experience of ensuring valves meet pre-installation criteria and in providing real-world conditions in which to test valves for safety.
Guidance on valve installation and packing is also available from companies providing consultation and field services to train workers on-site who will be involved in the valve packing, installation, and maintenance processes. Keeping a strict eye on key system components like the many valves required within a safely operating system is both essential to achieving valve safety and keeping costs down and is rarely achievable without the proper industry expertise delivered by valve industry specialists.
Pressure Differentials and Flow Rates
Some of the largest risks involved in valve choice, installation, and maintenance are connected to the pressure differentials dictated by the conditions of each application. Specialized sensors and acoustic instruments are used in the detection of potentially dangerous and costly valve leakage. The damage caused by valve leakage increases with time as sealing erosion occurs and the leaks themselves spread.
Monitoring of flow rates can alert plant operators and other associated personnel to leakage from an orifice sometimes too small to be detected without the identification of flow induced ultrasound.
The valve type and the accuracy of the installation are always of critical cost importance in a system, but in some cases with highly pressurized environments, it definitely comes down to an issue of safety. From an environmental perspective, increased fugitive emissions due to improper valve packing, valve type choice, and valve installation are certainly considered hazardous and unsafe, which supports the importance and relevancy of the latest API valve packing standards that are enforced by the EPA.
Valve Safety and the need for Valve Training Courses
The cornerstone foundation of achieving valve safety in any system in any plant or manufacturing environment is valve knowledge and knowledge of valve industry best practices. As numerous organizations have come together to participate in the development of new standards and in knowledge sharing as for example, the FSA member companies have done, the opportunity for knowledge in the valve industry has steadily increased.
Industry benefits dramatically from these professional efforts to support and build upon the efforts toward sustainability and efficiency. Organizations such as the VMA (Valve Manufacturers Association) have been continuously making more and more available on-location and remote/online options for valve training.
The efforts of these many valve industry experts to increase awareness around the essential aspect of valve type, packing, and installation knowledge is a large piece of the puzzle in helping organizations achieve sustainability and increased valve safety levels to a significant degree.
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