Valve Industry Education: Are You Prepared for the Great Brain Drain?

velan_trainingIf you’re a part of the valve industry, you likely are aware of the huge need for valve education and training.

While baby-boomers may have put off retirement for a few more years – thanks to the recent great recession – our industry is on the verge of losing its most valuable players, those experienced and knowledgeable professionals who have spent decades working in our industry. To replace this great brain drain, educating newcomers to the industry must be a top priority for companies that make, use and specify valves, actuators and controls.

In the Winter 2011 issue of Valve Magazine, we’ve included an article, “Valve Education: Why it’s needed, where to get it.” You can read the article in its entirety in our digital edition at ValveMagazine-digital.com. To supplement the information in that article, here are numerous education and training resources for you to explore, including offerings by members of the Valve Manufacturers Association.

We began this process by sending out requests to VMA member companies asking for information on the training they supply customers; the material below is gathered from those responses and from other research. A fair number of company-provided training is specific to each company’s products, but there is also much to be learned that is not specific to a particular company’s offerings. And in any case, if your company uses a particular brand, it’s good to get training in it. We follow this section by recapping the educational products offered by the Valve Manufacturers Association, other groups that offer related education programs and some “old-fashioned books” that are sure to help employees on the job.


COMPANY TRAINING

ASCO Valve and ASCO Numatics, part of Emerson Process Management, provide half-day instructor-led training sessions given at ASCO headquarters and also at regional sites around the country. Information on the courses is available from local ASCO distributors. In addition, ASCO Numatics sponsors the PMMI U's Amazing Packaging Race at PAC EXPO, providing prizes and supporting the PMMI (Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) Education and Training Foundation, which provides scholarships to packaging students from PMMI partner schools. ASCO also funds the ASCO Numatics Industrial Automation Engineering College Scholarships: two $5,000 scholarships to U.S. engineering students who are pursuing careers in industrial automation-related disciplines plus $1,000 grants to the engineering departments of the colleges in which the winners are enrolled. ASCO also runs an extensive online training program with both on-line and classroom components for its distributors.

AUMA Actuators provides one- to three-day training seminars for sales and service people as well as for customers, in Pittsburgh and Missouri City, TX. Seminars include:

  • Basic Sales and Service Training – 3 days
  • Basic Service Training – 2 or 3 days
  • Advanced Service Training – 3 days
  • AUMATIC Programming Seminar – 1 day
  • Basic Digital Communications Training – 1 day
  • Advanced Digital Communications Training – 1 day

Harold Beck & Sons, Inc. provides two maintenance training courses designed to provide hands-on instruction for personnel responsible for the installation, operation and maintenance of Beck products.

  • Basic Course: For users of two-position, multi-position and modulating models with direct AC control, with hands-on training on calibration and troubleshooting. Topics include unit operations (mechanical & electrical), maintenance (mechanical & electrical), linkage connection and troubleshooting.
  • Advanced Course: For users of modulating models with analog position control, the course covers the same items as the Basic Course, plus hands-on training on system interface (operation and calibration), position sensing and feedback, and electronics (troubleshooting to the board level and component replacement).

Cameron’s Process Educational Services group has a series of process systems training courses at the basic and intermediate levels divided into offshore, shale gas, midstream, downstream, offshore-fixed facility, offshore-floating facility and general tracks. Customized workshops can also be developed to meet the needs of individual companies. Courses are developed to provide instructor-led classroom training as well as hands-on training on technology fundamentals. All on-site courses take place at the company’s Technology Center in Houston.

Conval Inc. offers a number of downloadable training aids for maintenance of its products, including globe valve servicing instructions (both in written and video form), gate valve servicing instructions and throttling valve servicing instructions.

Crane Co.’s units Crane Energy Flow Solutions and Crane Nuclear work with Engineered Software Inc. (see below) to publish Technical Paper 410, Flow of Fluids. Crane Nuclear also provides a number of courses on air-operated valves (AOVs), including Valve Maintenance and Repair (five days), AOV Actuator/Instrument Maintenance & Repair (five days), Limitorque Actuator Technical Maintenance and Repair Training (five days), AOV Advanced Signature Analysis (five days), AOV Data Acquisition & Basic Analysis (five days) and Principles of AOVs (three days).


Curtiss-Wright Flow Control’s Farris Engineering unit provides on-site maintenance and on-site maintenance training through series of one-day seminars held at customer facilities, plus user maintenance seminars at the company’s main plant in Brecksville, OH.

Curtiss-Wright’s Delta Valve unit provides training in maintenance and repair of the company’s products at user facilities. The company’s TapcoEnpro unit provides on-site training in the basics of operation and repair of the company’s valves, while the Target Rock unit provides nuclear-focused MOV/AOV training as part of its Plant Services offering.

Dresser Consolidated has a product training program on pressure relief valves, both at its Alexandria, LA training center and on site, with courses ranging from the operation and application of pressure relief systems to the routine maintenance, testing and troubleshooting of pressure relief valves. All classes combine theory and hands-on experience.

Dresser Masoneilan offers courses ranging from control valve basics and control valve theory to digital instrumentation, diagnostics, severe service valve product technology, control valve applications engineering, control valve troubleshooting and maintenance, and digital instrument troubleshooting and maintenance. All classes combine theory and hands-on experience. Classes are available in Masoneilan classrooms around the world and on-site in end users’ facilities.

Eii Valve offers training on its products; details are available by contacting the company at 877.509.4314.

Emerson Process Management has an extensive training program, including factory training, with 14 valve-related courses; at regional training centers; on-site at customer facilities; via eLearning training and via Virtual Classroom courses, which combines on-line access with live instructor interaction and includes full access to software systems. Access to courses is also available through Emerson’s local business partners.

Emerson’s annual Global User Exchange also offers a track on valves; at the 2011 event this included 21 sessions. In addition, Emerson provides free product training classes; typically these are for Emerson Process Management Valve Automation, Inc. employees, distributors and selected end users only.

Engineered Software, Inc. offers two main software products: PIPE-FLO, for designing, optimizing, troubleshooting fluid piping systems, gas piping systems, paper slurry systems, etc.; and PUMP-FLO, used by pump manufacturers to size and select their pumps. In the course of providing technical support for these products, Blondin explained, the company found that the majority of calls for support turned out not to be for assistance in using the software but for help in understanding and optimizing piping systems in general. This led the company to publish a book entitled Piping Systems Fundamentals and to create a two-day course by the same name.

About 12 years ago, Blondin goes on, the company began working with Crane and used information from Crane’s Technical Paper 410, Flow of Fluids (aka TP410), to develop a hydraulic analysis tool by the same name. Within a few years they were doing more publishing and training, and about six years ago began working more directly with Crane to print and market TP410, selling it through the joint website www.flowoffluids.com, as well as providing courses of their own.

Flowserve provides training programs to help plant operators, reliability specialists, engineers and maintenance personnel deepen their understanding of flow management systems. Training is provided at the company’s Learning Resource Centers, at customer sites, and on line. A course catalog is available on the company’s website, although most of the courses focus on pumps.

Fluroseal Inc. offers 1-2 training sessions a year, with participants from around the world; each training session is usually 2-3 days long with a portion of theoretical training and a large portion devoted to getting their hands dirty in the shop. The company also offers after-sales service to clients in their own maintenance shops. Riad Haffar, vice president of sales, says the company “offers 3-day long training sessions to all new distributors and many end users have benefited from those as well. In fact, we have developed a theoretical and practical approach that has been quite successful in teaching end users how to disassemble, reassemble, troubleshoot when necessary, and re-integrate our plug valves into their process lines.”

Indelac Controls offers training on proper sizing, selection and installation procedures for its electric actuators. Training covers sizing the actuator for the valve, selecting the correct actuator for the application and selecting optional actuator parts and equipment for optimal performance when the automated package is commissioned. Training is also available for installers or for end users of the company’s products, both onsite and at the company’s home office in Northern Kentucky. These hands-on opportunities allow full comprehensive learning of operation, testing and troubleshooting to inform technicians on use in the field.

Koso Hammel Dahl provides product and service training at their factory or the customer’s site. Koso’s Rexa unit also provides training on calibration, maintenance and troubleshooting of REXA actuators at customer sites; a brochure describing the offerings is available on REXA’s website.

Metso Automation USA offers valve training for subcontractors on safe and proper handling of field equipment, and for contractors and end users on valve and accessory know-how for optimal operation and maintenance.

Mueller Water Products offers training using a mobile van that stops at the company’s stocking distributor locations. Training topics include:

  • Fire Hydrants – installation tips, component details, hydrant restraint, flow characteristics, security, repair and maintenance
  • Gate, Butterfly, Check Valves – valve performance characteristics, selection, valve restraint, actuation, component details, repair and maintenance
  • Main to Meter Products – selecting and installing corporation valves, meter setting products, service line repair, back flow prevention, insulated products
  • Pipe Repair Products – types of repair clamps and couplings, repairing ductile iron, PVC and PE mains
  • Drilling and Tapping Water Mains – direct tapping machines for ductile iron and PVC mains, saddle selection and proper use, large and small drilling machines.
  • Tips from the Field – maintenance, troubleshooting, safety

Rotork Controls provides both in-house and on-site training, with course materials customized to the audience. The company also provides E-learning courses, each about 30 minutes to complete, on the company’s actuators and other products. The company’s K-Tork unit also provides customer training on request.

Spirax Sarco provides three levels of courses on steam utilization, of which valves are a part. Courses are given at company locations in Allentown, PA; Chicago; Columbia, SC; Houston and Los Angeles. A series of steam engineering tutorials for self-instruction that includes lessons on valves is also available.

ValvTechnologies offers a variety of industry-related training topics, and provides year-round training opportunities for both ongoing employee training and also for distributors and customers. Courses are held at the plant level and may pertain to valve, industry and/or specific customer needs. And every October the company hosts a four-day International Technical Seminar at its Houston headquarters for all customers and distributors. Classes are designed to make the participants aware of the issues in the power, petrochemical refining and mining applications, including reviews of various codes and other application issues. In addition classes on Total Valve Management (TVM) are available.

Velan’s Field Engineering Services group offers regular training sessions at company headquarters. As John Verners, Velan’s director of aftermarket, explains, “We offer service and maintenance training sessions for our independent approved service shops (of which there are 67 globally). During these training sessions, attendees have the opportunity to hone their skills and learn new techniques. Typical training sessions are based primarily on demand and are also determined by market conditions. For example, we’re currently hosting a coker training session with a group of people from around the world who are interested in earning coker-approved status for more of their service shops.”

Velan also offers onsite training that focuses on start-up and commissioning for valve systems and is targeted at customer operators and maintenance personnel at plants worldwide. This training can cover usage of Velan’s integrated control packages including valves and actuators and also the control panels and PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) that have been installed at sites in the U.S., Spain, Chile, India and other countries.

The company also conducts Advanced Sales Training Seminars twice a year for its sales partners. Each seminar is a three-day event that focuses on key technical and selling features of the company’s products.

Wal-Tech provides training to its customers, providing classes at no cost on relief valves, manual valves, control valves, electric actuators and ways in which users can perform basic installation, maintenance and troubleshooting and safety awareness. In many cases this helps to avoid calling out a service provider for a matter that could be handled by user personnel. Specific topics vary with the situation, but classes generally run about a half-day in length.


VMA’S VALVE ED PROGRAM

A number of industry organizations and associations provide training; the one most directly related to valves is, of course, the Valve Manufacturers Association, which publishes Valve Magazine. Here’s a summary of educational products provided by VMA:

VMA has an entry-level education program called Valve Ed. Each year the association conducts two 1½-day courses at varying locations around the country. In 2012, the locations are Houston (March 6-7) and Denver (Oct. 10-11). Both feature the Valves & Actuators 101 educational session, which offers seven lessons covering all the major valve, actuator and control types. The program also includes a “valve petting zoo” for hands-on exploration of products and much more. Online registration for the Houston event in March is now open.

As part of the Valve Ed program, VMA’s educational foundation, the Friends of the Crawford Library, provides free admission to the Valves & Actuators 101 course for up to 20 mechanical engineering students attending a school in the region where the Valve Basics Seminar is being held. So far, VMA has hosted students from Drexel University (Philadelphia), University of Louisiana-Baton Rouge, University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Calgary (Alberta)

In addition, VMA is also in the process of developing a Valve Basics Online Training program, which will allow people to purchase the course from The VMA Store, and then sign on to a website, where they will have 90 days to complete the course. (It will also be based on Valves & Actuators 101 and offer the equivalent of 6 hours of training.) Those who successfully complete the course will receive professional development hours and a certificate. The program is expected to launch in the latter half of 2012.

For those companies that want to provide valve training to their employees in their own facilities, VMA has a selection of educational tools that can be purchased in The VMA Store. These include:

  • Basics in a Box™ packages the Valves & Actuators 101 education session in a handy format for onsite training; it includes copies of all 400-plus slides, instructor guides, handouts for students and a CD with copies of all the files.
  • An Introduction to the Valve Industry, intended to educate and inform brand-new employees about the valve industry, and available as a PDF, this presentation contains more than 110 slides and additional notes.
  • Back to Basics Compilation is a collection of 17 articles from Valve Magazine’s Back to Basics series, the manual includes extensive information about all the major valve and actuator types.
  • Actuators & Controls Compilation is a compendium of two dozen articles from Valve Magazine that address a wide array of actuation and control topics.
  • Valve Magazine CD Archive (2000 to 2010)—The CD contains PDFs of more than 40 issues and hundreds of articles, all keyword searchable.
  • Past Articles—Titles and summaries of previously published articles in Valve Magazine can be searched by keyword and ordered individually.

ORGANIZATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

ASA (American Supply Association) has three valve-specific courses available in book form or online through its ASA University program: Valve Basics, Multi-turn Valves and Quarter-turn Valves.

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.) offers interactive, self-monitoring training courses and modules on more than 100 topics that allow the participant to earn PDHs/CEUs. One module related directly to valves is Fundamentals of HVAC Control Systems (I-P)_Control Valves and Dampers-IP.

ISA offers a wide selection of courses on many topics, instructor-led at regional training centers, at company locations and via distance education. While valves form a part of many classes, those most directly focused on valves, actuators and controls include:

  • Advanced Operation of Digital Valve Controllers (TS18)
  • Advanced Operation of Digital (Smart) Transmitters and Digital Valve Controllers (TS16)
  • Maintaining Pneumatic Components in Measurement and Control (TI06)
  • Sizing, Selecting and Applying Process Control Valves (EI30)

The Fluid Power Education Foundation has developed a network of key high schools and post secondary colleges and universities that offer either “stand-alone” fluid power technology programs or courses in fluid power as part of other programs or departments. The foundation provides support and educational materials to the schools, and provides scholarships. It also has instructional materials available for free download from its website.

McMaster University in Canada has a Process Control Education website “to assist university students to learn process control… The site is open to anyone, whether registered at McMaster or not,” and allows for downloading college-level courses free of charge. A course on Instrumentation for Process Control, which covers both sensors and valves, is available on the website.

ValvePro is a cooperative venture between the Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX) of The University of Texas and Sealweld Corp. Training consists of about 40 hours of self-paced computer-based training, plus three days of classroom instruction and hands-on training. “Completion of both components is a prerequisite to receive PETEX Valve Maintenance Technician Certification,” according to the ValvPro website. Classes are held in Calgary, AB, and Odessa, TX.


IT’S IN THE BOOK

It’s possible to get a fair amount of training without traveling to take courses at a school, of course. There are courses available online, like the ones from McMaster University and the online course being developed by VMA. But let’s not forget the “old-fashioned” book:

Crane Technical Paper 410, Flow of Fluids Through Valves, Fittings and Pipe. First published in 1942, it has been updated multiple times since, most recently in 2009. “It’s all the calculations that go into designing a piping system,” says Michael Blondin of Engineering Software. “How you calculate head loss through a pipe, how you calculate getting your head calculations through your pump, calculating your head losses through your valves, those sorts of things.” Engineering Software has also published Piping System Fundamentals: The Complete Guide to Gaining a Clear Picture of Your Piping System, by Ray. T. Hardee (2008). Both are available at www.flowoffluids.com, a joint effort with Crane.

Here are some other offerings that focus on valves, actuator and process control:

  • Valve Handbook, 3rd Edition, by Philip L. Skousen (McGraw Hill Professional – 2011)
  • Control Valve Primer, 4th Edition: A User’s Guide, by Hans D. Baumann (2008)
  • The Safety Relief Valve Handbook: Design and Use of Process Safety Valves to ASME and International Codes and Standards, by Marc Hellemans (Butterworth-Heinemann /IChemE – 2009)
  • Process Control: Designing Processes and Control Systems for Dynamic Performance, 2nd Edition (McGraw Hill Science/Engineering/Math), by T. E. Marlin (2000)
  • Handbook of Valves and Actuators: Valves Manual International by Brian Nesbitt (Butterworth-Heinemann – 2007).
  • Valve Selection Handbook, 5th Edition: Engineering Fundamentals for Selecting the Right Valve Design for Every Industrial Flow Application, by Peter Smith and R.W. Zappe (Gulf Professional Publishing - 2003)

If you have any questions about individual company offerings, please contact them directly. For information about education and training offerings by the Valve Manufacturers Association, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., VMA director of education.