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Industry Headlines

PA Town Approves $6B Shell Ethane Cracker Plant

Monday, 16 January 2017  |  Chris Guy

Potter Township in western Pennsylvania has granted a conditional use permit for a $6 billion petrochemical plant to be built by Shell Chemicals. The ...

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Industry Headlines

David Paradis Named President of Weir Flow Control Division

3 DAYS AGO

The Weir Group PLC has appointed David Paradis to its group executive as president of the Weir Flow Control Division. He will take up this new role on January 23, 2017. Paradis succeeds John Heasley who was appointed Weir Group CFO in October 2016.

Paradis is currently president of Weir Oil & Gas&r...

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GE, Transocean Announce Performance-Based Service Agreement

5 DAYS AGO

GE Oil & Gas has secured a new contractual service agreement (CSA), valued at approximately $180 million, with Transocean. Under the agreement , GE will provide condition-based monitoring and maintenance services for pressure control equipment on seven of Transocean’s rigs over the next 10 t...

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PA Town Approves $6B Shell Ethane Cracker Plant

4 HOURS AGO

Potter Township in western Pennsylvania has granted a conditional use permit for a $6 billion petrochemical plant to be built by Shell Chemicals. The location was chosen because more than 70% of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh, PA. More state and fede...

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$4.17B Canadian Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Approved

4 DAYS AGO

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project has received its environmental certificate from British Columbia, Canada. The proposed $4.17 billion Trans Mountain Expansion Project would increase the capacity of the pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day. The current capacity of the pipeline is 3...

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Texas Economy Poised to Shift into ‘Second Gear’ in 2017

5 HOURS AGO

Texas job growth should increase slightly from 1.6% in 2016 to about 2% in 2017, says Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas assistant vice president and senior economist Keith Phillips.

“Job growth picked up in the second half of 2016 due to a stabilization of the energy sector,” Phillips said. ...

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World Bank: U.S. Could Boost Global Economy in 2017

4 DAYS AGO

Global growth for 2017 is projected at 2.7%, 0.1% lower than the June 2016 forecast, and 0.4% higher than the estimate for 2016. Going forward, according to the World Bank, global growth is projected to pick up modestly, reaching 2.9% by 2018.

Downside risks to global growth include increasing policy u...

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A Conversation With David Dunbar: What the Global Reach Means for Valves

david_dunbar_interview

David Dunbar, President of Valves & Controls, Tyco Flow Control, describes the valve industry using the phrase “stubborn complexity.”

Dunbar, who presented some of his views on where the industry is headed at the Valve World conference last November, explains what he means by that phrase.

 

“We have a very rich and interesting industry,” Dunbar says. “On the one hand, we produce a product that may operate 30 to 80 years. We still make versions of valves that are very similar to earlier generations of the product. On the other hand, however, product offerings in our business today are tremendously varied—we may have SKUs that number in the millions.”

 

The mix of long lifecycle together with the diversity of a wide range of products/technology/designs makes life in the valve world fascinating, Dunbar adds.

“We work in an industry that touches the most important infrastructures of the world, that gives us access to the most important resources,” Dunbar says. The innovations that occur “do not happen at the rate they happen in information technology, but they’ve contributed to the globalization and improvement of business and manufacturing at all levels.”

And one of the reasons innovations don’t occur as quickly is because the product service life is so long.

“When I review my own past, I realize that I really started to appreciate this industry at the time I began to understood that, when all is said and done—when the plant is designed, construction complete, the units are running, the control system is in place and a signal is sent—it all comes down to the valve. Does it open and close when it’s supposed to; does it control or direct the flow like it needs to? It is the last link in the chain, which makes it critical to carefully match it to the application,” Dunbar says.

Dunbar speaks from experience. After getting an electrical engineering degree, he spent a decade with Honeywell in the computer software/instrumentation side of process control before moving to Emerson for 12 years. He came to Tyco in 2009.


How He Sees the Industry Now

Dunbar says that rather than rapid changes in the product itself, more change is taking place in the structure of the companies—both customers and suppliers. One trend in many international companies today is that they are learning to align their businesses vertically by market served as opposed to geographically to enable them to create consistency across the world’s shrinking borders. The trend is occurring in response to increasing globalization of customers.

“Look at the power companies as an example. Just 10 years ago, power companies operated mostly within their own countries. Very few operated across the borders. Today, you see European power companies operating across all of Europe and some have moved to North America.

“Global customers want to buy the same product at the same quality no matter where they make a purchase,” he explains.

At the same time, those global customers, especially in remote areas of the world, need more local services to supplement the lack of internal skilled resources.

“Large global businesses such as the large energy companies are asking for commitments to provide consistent service on similar products around the world,” he explains. Many valve companies are now in the process of looking at locating offices where those services are needed.

As far as the biggest changes Dunbar says he’s seen in 20 years in the valve business, he points to the last decade and the increased use of smart technology in manufacturing.

“As technology becomes less expensive and easier to integrate, more and more pieces of equipment in plants will have on-board intelligence, whether it’s a simple status indicator, a smart asset tag or a more advanced diagnostic device,” he says.

Meanwhile, the valves themselves face a new set of challenges as customers ask for materials that can withstand higher/lower temperatures and higher pressures than ever before, which means new machining and work processes as well as new tools, Dunbar adds.

Still, because change in the valve product itself is a slow, continuous process, Dunbar says “the more dramatic changes in the valve business will have to do with the companies that deliver the valve, support the infrastructure and supply global chains.”

One challenge in dealing with that global reach is keeping up with standards around the world, and Dunbar says there is an area where he has some concerns: emerging markets.

“Companies are being asked for variations on what has been accepted already in other parts of the world, a trend that threatens the harmonization that gained momentum in the late 80s and 90s,” Dunbar says.

“The challenge for us is to work with our customers, work with the standards bodies and work with other manufacturers in organizations such as VMA to get the industry aligned around how much we need standards for the good of the entire industry,” he concludes.


Genilee Parente is managing editor of Valve Magazine. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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