Automated Valve Assemblies
5/29/20, by Toni Wall
Customer Case Study
The industrial PVF sector of our industry has at times had the reputation of being “old school” or a little slower to adopt change; however, we beg to differ. The Collins Companies is celebrating our hundredth year in business in 2020, and we have seen a myriad of changes to our business model over the years. One change that we are particularly proud of is the approach that our company and our industry is taking to worker safety. Work hours, environment, and equipment have all evolved to protect what is really our most important asset--our people. This article will highlight how the use of automated valve assemblies has significantly reduced both the incidence and the risk of accidents occurring in the workplace by installing a much safer solution to a dangerous situation.
One of our customers is a large, combined cycle power plant in New England that is required to come on and off line multiple times per week. Each time the unit is cycled offline, they are required to close the manually operated main steam stop valve which is located up a ladder on a very small access platform. The site recently had an unfortunate incident where an operator went up to close this main steam valve and the valve packing let go which sent 1800 psi steam blowing out the bonnet of the valve which caused the operator to fall backwards and injure himself.
We were called in to identify the valve, provide replacement packing, and possibly an upgraded “Live Load” packing modification. Once we heard the story of what had happened, we immediately recommended that the valve be retrofitted with an electric actuator, so that it could be operated either from the control room or from a remote mounted panel that was located next to the access ladder.
This simple change provided multiple safety benefits for the site: it protected the operator from being exposed to future packing issues; it reduced the risk of climbing or descending the ladder during the multiple plant shutdowns or startups; and it relieved the operator of the very dangerous job of opening and closing a large high pressure valve in a very confined space.
Now is the time to take inventory of your manual valves and discuss how automating them will improve the safety of your plant. The Collins Companies is very familiar with this process and with some answers to a few simple questions (below) we will be ready to go to work:
- Does the valve need to fail closed, fail open, or fail in place?
- What is the power source available at the point of the valve? Is there a compressed airline nearby which would allow us to use a pneumatic actuator or do we need to use an electric actuator?
- Do you require a limit switch to provide a local visual indicator and a sign back to the control room to indicate whether the valve is open or closed?
- What are the conditions of the area?
- Is it outdoors or indoors?
- What is the ambient temperature of your environment?
- Do you need a hazardous rating approval (e.g., weatherproofing, explosion proof, etc.)?
You owe it to your team and your company to always limit the risk of injury at your facility.