The Origin of a Valve
Although we joke, it is a routine question asked of us by our plant-owner customers. Why is this? It should be an easy question to answer, right? WRONG.
It is no revelation to any of us that we work within a global marketplace, where our supply chain partners could be anywhere. However, what most customers do not understand is that it is not easy to answer the above question with a name of one source country. In this article we are going to breakdown the valve for you and highlight the top questions to ask your valve manufacturer/distributor, if knowing the source country is important to your project.
Let’s start by breaking down a valve.
Engineering and Valve Design
You need to ask if this valve has been designed and engineered by the manufacturer whose name is on the valve. This is important to be assured the quality of the valve goes beyond the materials and machining. You can have the highest quality materials and machining but if the valve has a poor design, it will fail. In addition, if the manufacturer controls the engineering and design, any lessons learned from valves being installed in the field will be applied to the existing valve design.
Valve Body and Pressure Retaining Parts
Most concerns are with the valve body and pressure retaining parts; regardless if they are cast or forged, it is the rule, rather than the exception, that most are manufactured overseas. Primary countries could be Italy, China, India or Korea. Understanding the quality standards and procedures the foundries or forge shops are held to is critical. Are they quality standards and inspection procedures that are written by the manufacturer? What types of manufacturer inspections and document review are involved?
Having an understanding of where the component machining is done is important. This could range from the manufacturer buying un-machined castings and all machining done at the manufacturers facility to buying fully machined parts from overseas. In many cases it falls in between where the manufacturers will buy partially machined components and complete the final machining on the critical parts and tight tolerances in their facility.
Where is the valve assembled and tested?
If it is overseas are they working to the manufactures standards and procedures? Does the manufacturer inspect the facilities and have a manufacturer representative witness the test? Does the manufacturer retest the valves when they get to their facility?
Where quality is upheld is within the Quality Control (QC) process. You are buying brand x because you believe in them. They have a facility in your state and you want to support local. That’s great! But let’s ask them the hard questions, are they employing their own people to monitor their quality control testing and inspection processes of their complete product. Are they sourcing overseas, but then inspecting every component that is assembled into their final product? Because that is what controls the quality of the valve that you are installing into your plant, that will keep your business running and your employees safe.