Since VALVEMagazine.com was inaugurated many years ago, valve professionals have increasingly taken advantage of the valuable information and insights provided in content created exclusively for and by our readers. Technical articles, economic forecasts, updates on standards and business improvement tips have traditionally been the most popular articles each year, and 2016 was no exception.
Hopefully you’ve read many of the features offered over the past year, but if you’ve run short of time, here is a great opportunity to catch up on the best of the best. Enjoy the top 10 articles published online in 2016 on VALVEMagazine.com, as determined by our readers.
Pressure Relief Devices
With so much valuable information, it’s no wonder that Dr. Mohammad A. Malek’s article on pressure relief devices was in the top 10 website articles this past year. Part One of the two-part series by the Stanford University professor was the featured “Back to Basics” article in the Winter 2016 edition of the print magazine, and reminded readers that pressure relief devices are the “last line of defense” for pressurized equipment. Malek pointed out in that article that accidents are often caused when the pressure relief devices themselves fail to perform the function for which they are designed, often because these essential devices are too-often ignored or not understood fully by the people in the industries they are designed to protect.
But there was simply too much information to get it all in one article, so Part Two was available exclusively on the web. In our #10 web article for 2016, the applications and pros and cons of various nonreclosing-type pressure relief devices, including conventional rupture disks and scored tension-loaded rupture disks, were considered along with the accessories such as burst sensors which can make them even more useful. These two articles are must-reads for anyone responsible for choosing, maintaining or repairing pressure relief devices.
FE Testing and Certification
Ninth in our top 10 pondered the question, “What’s next?” with respect to Fugitive Emissions Testing and Certification of Valves. David Bayreuther of Metso wrote that standards committees struggle to decide how to test and if performance has been proven for any particular product. Is it through laboratory testing? What measurement method(s) are acceptable? Should the test be done with helium or methane? Helium is safer to use in the laboratory, but methane is what the EPA is focused on.
Bayreuther said that currently the EPA is seeking expert input on how to update and modernize their Leakage Detection and Repair (LDAR) program to help achieve emissions goals, so this may be an opportunity for you to voice any concerns or opinions. In addition, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is developing a new fugitive emission test standard for rotary valves that may be released by late 2016 or possibly early 2017.
Coming in at #8 in the top 10, Vince Bovino of Bovino Consulting Group pointed out that, in today’s highly competitive business environment, every company should continually strive to improve every aspect of its business. Unfortunately, some organizations let their success or failure flow with marketplace changes rather than planning and adapting operating methods to be ahead of the market. According to Bovino, while it’s tempting to benchmark your company’s operating performance against an industry average, if the industry average is a “C” grade, that sets the bar pretty low.
To change that and create a well-defined culture of continuous and breakthrough improvements, be sure to check out the ways Bovino advised implementation of Four Systems to Significantly Improve Operating Performance.
Repair and Maintenance
The importance of repair and maintenance topics for VM readers was evidenced by the popularity, at #7 in our top 10, of our report on the Valve Repair Council’s June 2016 meeting in Houston. The topics at the event were broad, from live loading of valves with Belleville springs to the challenges of horizontal orientation of gate valves. The presentations by Nathan Sowder on the Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design, and information on the new test-only organization and stamp from Joseph Ball of the NBBI were expanded on in separate features, so don’t forget to check them out as well.
Standards and Emissions
The topic of fugitive emissions is so important that this year, as in years past, an article describing updates and new standards concerning them made the top 10. In #6 for 2016, Rich Davis of Flexitallic gave us an Update on API Standards on Fugitive Emissions. You’ll want to learn more about changes to Type Testing of Process Valve Packing for Fugitive Emissions (API 622), which establishes requirements and parameters for fugitive emissions, corrosion, packing material composition and properties, and oxidation evaluations. A test chamber for 1/8-inch packing is being added as a number of tests on API 624 have indicated issues with the smaller packing cross-section. API is also changing the leak test monitoring equipment by opening up the types of equipment allowed to detect fugitive emissions.
API 641 is a new standard under consideration that specifies the requirements for type testing quarter-turn valves for fugitive emissions and applies to all stem seal materials. Also, the Upstream & Midstream API 6D Valves group has decided to develop a separate standard covering their valves and are currently working with the Association of Wellhead Equipment Manufacturers to make that happen.
VALVE Magazine is the place to be to keep tabs on economic events, and valve industry leaders look to events such as VMA’s 2016 Leadership Forum to stay abreast of important trends and forecasts. In this year’s report, sitting at #5 in top 10, we shared forecasts from several economic experts, including Alex Chausovsky who offered “Guidance in Uncertain Times.” The ITR Economics’ senior analyst pointed to the strong U.S. dollar as being one of the strongest headwinds against economic development, although the U.S. consumer is driving economic growth. However, there is a hint of economic recession in 2018, so if you somehow missed this article, be sure to check it out and get more of the information. While it is true that much has changed politically since this meeting, there is still valuable information in this article that can help you make business decisions for the coming year.
Insights on Actuators
In his article, which claims #4 in the top 10, industry veteran Chris Warnett of CPLloyd Consulting shared Valuable Insights from Valve Actuator Users. He pointed out that, once valves and actuators are installed and commissioned on site, the manufacturer’s involvement often lapses to an occasional service call. However, because they’re unaware of the subsequent life of the automated valve, they miss valuable feedback that an end user could give on how that equipment performs. It’s worth the effort for actuator manufacturers, designers and distributors to talk to end users who may also inspire new solutions to common problems.
Size Does Matter
Our #3 article initially ran in 2012! It was so well received then, we decided to bring it front and center again and sure enough, Size Matters: Control Valve Sizing by Valin’s Jon Monsen was so popular it achieved a high readership in our top 10 for 2016. If you have responsibility for control valves, be sure to review this valuable information.
Industrial Internet of Things
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years, you most likely are aware of the impact the Internet of Things is having on all aspects of the valve industry, for both manufacturers and users alike. Its importance is reflected in Peter Reynolds’ article, sitting at #2 in our top 10, where the ARC Advisory Group consultant points out that control valve maintenance can be improved thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things.
Despite initial concerns, many companies now realize that, when properly implemented, internet and wireless technologies can provide appropriate security and availability of services across multiple plants and facilities. This helps further meld plant floor and enterprise systems, creating an opportunity to transform manufacturing operations through IIoT strategies.
And the #1 online article in 2016…
…is a topic that most certainly affects everyone in our industry: The Forecast for the U.S. Valve Industry. Of the 15 end-user industries VMA tracks, the two that have the greatest market share are expected to gain even more next year: chemical and water/wastewater. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over to this article to check it out for yourself.