Article by David Sear
“This event reinforced some important lessons,” says Mr. Geers. “Firstly, if the client says he needs a severe service valve it can be straightforward enough to find a technically satisfactory solution but we need to keep asking more questions until we are satisfied we fully understand why the client considers the application to be critical. For example, could an external leakage release a potentially hazardous substance? Or might a valve failure cause product contamination? Or could a malfunction trip the entire facility? Or perhaps the application is seen as severe for a combination of reasons. It is clearly important to determine this in advance as such information can have a bearing on the valve specification process.”
However, the need for enhanced dialogue does not stop there, notes Mr. Geers. “Modern control valves are packed with sensors and diagnostics features, but the more information that is available, the harder it can actually become to understand what is happening inside the valve. That’s because you don’t see the wood for the trees. In the case history mentioned above, the key issue for the client was accuracy. So what was needed was for a clear alarm to be given as soon as the valve became inaccurate – all other alarms should have been secondary. Based on this observation we now specifically ask clients what information they need to have available and how it should be presented in the event of a valve problem.“
A final conclusion drawn by Mr. Geers and his colleagues is that many clients tend to forget about valves once installed. “If the valve is working perfectly then it is almost invisible, as it were. It is only when something goes amiss that people are interested in data. But, of course, it is much easier to understand data before you are faced with an emergency.”
This minor incident, then, was to trigger a whole series of pilots. “Working with numerous good clients we looked at their valves and their information needs. These pilots revealed a lot of things that people didn’t know or had simply forgotten or that one party wrongly assumed the other was aware of. The key lesson I think we have all taken away with us is the need for proper ongoing communication, as a way to addressing issues before they can become problems. So as far as I am concerned, if a client wants to buy a valve with all the latest diagnostics features, then the first thing I tell him is that we need to talk!”
The value of diagnostics
Investing in diagnostics capabilities can save end users a lot of time, trouble and expense, indicates Mr. Geers. “With a decent positioner to enable preventive maintenance you could reduce the number of valves that actually need to be removed to say thirty. And if you step up to predictive maintenance that number could drop to just twenty. So clearly there are major savings to be made!
Meet Jos Geers
Sales Manager Mr. Geers has been at SAMSON for about twenty-two years, gaining experience in inside sales, outside sales, projects and management. In his free time he enjoys yoga and building acoustic guitars, and describes both pastimes as being great ways to relax and unwind.