Ball Valve Vs. Butterfly Valve

4/7/20, by Toni Wall

Customer Case Study

As we discussed in our last case study, selecting the Correct Valve for the Job, a lot has changed over the years with your available valve and actuator choices and technology. In this month’s case study, we discuss how replacing an actuated valve package with the same product that you used 30 years ago is not necessarily the most cost effective nor the safest solution for your people or your facility.

The challenge - our customer was working with a local engineering firm to design and build a new tank farm for their business. This fuel storage area sat adjacent to their billion-dollar plant and needed to have safe guards in place to protect not only their property but their employees.

Our engineers, here at Collins, were requested to work with our customer’s engineering firm on this project and it became readily apparent that the specifications the engineering firm was working with were 30 to 40 years old and were not even close to being “consistent” with the requirements of the application.  We immediately identified this issue and went to work on specifying and selecting valves and actuators that would not only save them money but that would improve the overall performance of the system while also providing the highest level of safety for their plant and their people.

Butterfly valves were originally specified for this application but the Collins engineers immediately suggested that they change that specification to a ball valve on any valve 3” and under to significantly reduce the pressure drop through the line and eliminate the obstruction of the disc that lowers the valve’s capacity. However, as you move up in size, ball valves begin to get sustainably more expensive and the decision was made to transition to butterfly valves on any requirements over 3” as that choice would be considerably more cost effective.

This being a fuel line, the system also required a fire-tite designed valve, which is the industry standard on high performance ball valves, whereas for butterfly valves this would be considered a special trim (custom built vs. off the shelf), so this change allowed us to provide a much better delivery schedule for our customer. We also suggested lever handles versus the specified gear operators and offered the option of pneumatic versus the specified electric actuators at a 35-40% cost saving.

All of these suggestions by our engineering group significantly reduced the overall cost and lead time of this project and enhanced the performance and safety of this upgrade upon installation, truly a “win/win” for all parties.