In 1989, the member companies of the Valve Manufacturers Association of America (VMA) saw a need to promote both safety and quality in valve and actuator repair. As a result, the service operations of VMA members banded together to create the Valve Repair Council (VRC). As part of its mandate to educate manufacturers, rebuilders and customers on the importance of proper service and to provide a forum for an exchange of information, the VRC sponsors activities such as the Valve Repair Meeting & Exhibits, which took place in Houston, June 4-6.
Attendees from across the valve repair industry came together to hear a diverse array of topics and to tour three VRC member facilities that feature the latest in valve repair equipment and technology. On Wednesday, seminar attendees took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the operations at Furmanite, Pentair and United Valve.
The seminar began Thursday morning with a thought-provoking reminder of the need for safety when moving valves. Rod Helm, EHS manager, basic rigging at Granite Services International, demonstrated the importance of considering every aspect of rigging and hoisting. “Try to get an understanding and help everybody focus on the rigging and how to look at centers of gravity,” he said. “In previous days, valves were marked; the center of gravity was in the casting marks. But now valves have an unknown center of gravity. That means we have to find it. And we want everybody to keep healthy while finding it.”
Helm pointed out that injuries hurt everyone in the company, so it is essential to be sure that all paperwork is with the valve, make sure you know all of the hazards in the area if you are working on location, and carefully consider everything from attachment points to the footing for cranes. “What’s overhead?” he asked. “What’s the lift radius for a mobile crane? Is there anything that could be in the way? Have inspections been done on the crane?”
“If something doesn’t look right,” Helm admonished attendees, “start asking questions!”
Blended Learning for Valves
PETEX (The Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas) said that changes have definitely been in the wind when it comes to training for valve technicians and other personnel in the oil and gas industry. While on-the-job training was effective for many years, now there are fewer experienced personnel available to make that possible. This has created an ever-increasing demand for responsive training programs that recognize there are generational and individual differences in the way people learn.In her presentation on blended learning, Judi Camerano of
Blended learning takes this into account. It is a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part, through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.
Joe Pirkle, resident professor at ValvePro for the Petroleum Extension Program at the University of Texas, picked up on Camerano’s presentation and stressed the importance of proper training for valve repair. “Valve and operator inspection and maintenance are critical to the safe operation of all flow systems and to the safety of all field personnel,” he said. “Every valve, including all of its components, requires inspection and maintenance, and that inspection and maintenance needs to be done by someone who is well-trained. Recruiting volunteers from the audience, Pirkle demonstrated some of the tactics he employs to be sure his students absorb that training.
Pressure Seal Maintenance and Repair
A presentation by PJ Gallo of CFM/VR-TESCO centered on when and where pressure seals are used and the differences between soft metal and graphite pressure seals. “While there are many advantages to graphite seals, including superior sealing and easier handling and easier valve disassembly,” he said, “disadvantages include the fact that a leak could easily be catastrophic.”
Gallo will be sharing his presentation in an article for an upcoming Web feature at VALVEMagazine.com.
Ball Valve Repair 101
When Paul van Oudenaren of Watson Valve Services discussed ball valve repair, the first thing he stated was something that should be obvious, but might not always occur to someone about to work on a valve. “Before repairing a valve,” he said, “you have to think about different styles. Are you actually using the right valve for that location? You need to define what success means and consider the technical aspects. If a metal seated isn’t the best valve, start there before spending time and money for repair.”
He also addressed the question of comparing the lifetime cost of ownership of a metal-seated ball valve as compared to a soft-seated economy design and outlined the typical repair process. Watch for van Oudenaren’s presentation to appear in the near future as an article on VALVEMagazine.com.
Wireless Pressure Relief Valve Monitoring
Josh Kolenc and Jamie Latshaw of Farris Engineering told seminar attendees there are literally hundreds or thousands of relief valves in a plant environment, and relief events occur frequently—resulting in emissions. The problem is determining which of the relief valves are discharging, the duration of the relief event, what was discharged in that event and if the relief valve fully closed.
“You get these relief events occurring a lot more frequently now,” said Kolenc, “partly due to the age of refineries. They’re pushing operating limits to the max, so the relief system is working more often. When you see those flares, it means many relief valves are going, so it’s becoming increasingly important to know exactly what’s happening.”
In the past, methods to monitor and analyze these critical components of a plant were difficult, if not completely unfeasible for a number of reasons. Now, however, with the advent of wireless technology and Smart PRVs, these valves can be monitored and the real time data captured can provide immediate, accurate and defensible emission reports to environmental agencies. Other benefits include being able to track if a particular valve is bad, and get it repaired or replaced to avoid unnecessary relief events.
Valve Modification Standards
According to Glenn Hamilton and Kevin Gentry of Gulf Coast Modifications, up until the late 1970s, OEMs frowned upon unauthorized valve modifications because of concerns about poor workmanship, personal and/or property damage and potential lawsuits that could come about when valves were modified. However, that has changed drastically, especially with the advent of the valve modification standard—MSS Standard Practice SP-141for Multi-turn and Check Valve Modifications.
With this standard, specific procedures are required for each stage of the modification, along with strict testing; labeling and even storage requirements are set out. Tests are also standardized, including hydrostatic pressure testing, dye penetrant, magnetic particle examination and radiography of critical areas.
Fugitive Emission Enforcement
On the last day of the meeting, Scott Boyson and Rodney Roth of AW Chesterton Company discussed fugitive emission enforcement and its impact on valves and valve sealing. “Not only is the EPA being especially vigilant regarding refineries and chemical plants, it has just announced that it will be clamping down on the natural gas extraction sector,” said Boyson.
Leaking equipment is still the largest source of hazardous air pollutant emissions from petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities and the largest source of fugitive emissions are valves. So, for valve repair facilities, valve and sealing manufacturers, this is a huge opportunity, and Boyson and Roth encouraged attendees to pay attention to these new opportunities and challenges and take a proactive approach to capitalizing on them.
RP 621 Valve Repair
In the final presentation of the event, Greg Johnson of United Valve discussed the latest iteration of RP 621, which covers reconditioning of metallic gate, globe and check valves. According to Johnson, end-users are caught between accountants, attorneys, OSHA, EPA and downsizing. As a result, more detailed standards are being created all the time in an effort to reduce liability and improve safety.
“Fugitive emissions, casting quality and valve operability in stem horizontal position are the biggest concerns among end-users right now,” he said, “and RP 621, which was initially published in the spring of 2001, is continually being revised. We’re working on another revision right now.”
For more details on the standards revision and other presentations at the VRC meeting, read the Maintenance & Repair column in the summer 2014 edition of VALVE Magazine.