Valves are an important link in many industrial processes and in order to ensure plant productivity, safety and profitability, it is critical to always make certain that every valve in your industrial process is operating optimally and meeting relevant safety requirements at the same time. Valves that are not well maintained are a major cause of leakages and other hazards that can occur in an industrial setting. Most plant operators and investors are always seeking ways to achieve maximum output at minimum costs, however some critical points in optimizing total profits should be considered.
• Plant operation time: Plant operation time is important to many plant owners as shut down periods are part of costs. You lose profit whenever your plant is not producing.
• Safety: Valves need frequent testing to ensure their safety. If a plant explodes or burns down, it would result in downtime and additional costs to rectify damages.
• Efficiency: Only a well maintained plant will achieve maximum output while it is in production. Request for maximum plant operation time to ensure productivity and also shut down time for maintenance and safety activities can lead to a time conflict.
In essence, a reliable plant is a safe plant and is also a cost effective plant. Considering the continual conflict between maximizing plant operation time and minimizing maintenance shut downs, online valve testing has now become an efficient maintenance strategy. Every valve tested online will not have to be removed from the plant to be tested on the bench. Even in cases of large valves or welded in valves, an onsite testing can save you from using lifting gear, heavy transports, scaffolds and in effect saving you money. Online valve testing is therefore a win win solution for the plant operators and the maintenance operators because it give room for optimal plant operation and allows for plant safety.
Every valve has a set point which is defined as the moment when it starts to lift. Online valve testing provides an analysis of the set point in operational conditions which makes the result more reliable than a test made in the workshop. Online testing of valves generally provides a good alternative to bench testing, however it must be mentioned that it will not eliminate the need to remove these valves periodically for detailed analysis, maintenance and/or replacement of their internal components. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API 576), if the valve opens more frequently or the medium it is operating in is corrosive, it might have to be inspected more often. A definite time interval between inspection and tests should be established for all valves on operating devices.
For an online valve test to be fully beneficial and meet the potential listed above, it must meet the following vital requirements
1. Accuracy: Online valve tests can only be considered as an appropriate alternative only if it’s accurate and reliable. It should have a simple and clearly defined concept to identify the set point.
2. Mobility: Considering the locations of safety valves and the fact that the testing equipment is to be brought to the valve, the equipment has to be light and mobile. A light test rig and light hoses would be good to comfortably test valves on high reactors and pipeline bridges.
3. Durability: Valves are tested on super heaters and as well as in cold pipelines. The accuracy of measurements should not be affected by these industrial conditions.
4. Efficient: Seeing that cost implications are a major factor for deciding to carry out online valve testing, it therefore must be efficient to use- such as being able to test as many valves as possible in one shift. It must also be easy to use and test bench technician should be able to properly operate it with little training.
5. Safe in Operation: Online testing means working on a running plant. Maximum safety and a fault prevention process must be in place so as not to accidentally disturb the plant and endanger the user.
For many first time investments, support from your supplier would be very crucial for your business. The system vendor should be able to minimize downtimes with an intelligent support strategy, and like all measuring equipment, your online valve testing equipment would require calibration; suppliers must be able to also offer you calibration services or advice where to get such service.
GIL Automations provides solutions for you plants with our online valve testing services. We have a unique combination of highly-skilled technicians that provide on-site, emergency and scheduled valve testing services. We also provide routine shop repair. With GIL’s online valve testing solution, you’re able to keep your valves up and running in a safe condition 24/7.