In fluid handling and processing systems, control valves play a critical role—i.e., regulating the flow and pressure of fluids to within an acceptable range for maximum operational efficiency and operator safety. As such, they must be regularly subjected to inspection and maintenance operations to ensure they remain in proper working order. Failure to maintain them can lead to lower processing efficiency and, in extreme cases, component or system failure.
The following blog post provides an overview of control valve maintenance, outlining the benefits of proper maintenance and the types of maintenance programs available.
Benefits of Control Valve Maintenance
As indicated above, maintenance is essential to the performance of control valves and, consequently, the overall fluid handling or processing system. By designing and implementing a comprehensive maintenance schedule tailored to the unique operational and environmental conditions of a system, industry professionals may experience a number of benefits, including the following:
- Product quality. Properly maintained control valves are more likely to perform consistently. Greater performance consistency translates to better process consistency, which leads to higher level of production.
- Process efficiency. As a result of lower process variability, properly maintained control valves reduce the number of flawed or substandard products produced throughout a manufacturing operation, meaning fewer materials will be wasted. Additionally, they offer greater control over process variables (e.g., temperature), ensuring these conditions remain at optimal levels for maximum processing efficiency.
- Production costs. By increasing product quality and process efficiency, properly maintained control valves have a significant impact on the profitability of a facility (e.g., they can drastically lower material and energy utilization costs).
Types of Control Valve Maintenance Programs
A proper maintenance program can minimize the risk of operational issues in a fluid handling or processing system. When planning a maintenance program for control valves, industry professionals can take one of three approaches:
- Reactive maintenance. This maintenance approach involves taking action once a problem occurs. For example, when a control valve malfunctions or fails, the maintenance team repairs or replaces it so the system can resume operations.
- Preventative maintenance. This maintenance approach involves conducting routine inspection operations to identify issues that could affect the performance of a valve in the future. If and when a potential problem is detected, the maintenance team implements an appropriate solution to prevent it from occurring.
- Predictive maintenance. This maintenance approach involves using monitoring and testing equipment—e.g., distributive control systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and smart positioners—to evaluate and diagnose the condition and performance of a control valve. Any anomalies in performance prompt maintenance technicians to address the factors causing the discrepancies.
While some companies rely on reactive maintenance to resolve issues with their control valves, this maintenance approach can lead to undetected product quality issues, expensive repair and replacement operations, and significant downtime—all of which can negatively impact a company’s bottom line.
Comparatively, preventative maintenance and predictive maintenance, while seemingly more expensive, can minimize or eliminate the effects of failing or failed control valves on the profitability of a facility. By catching problems before they occur, these maintenance approaches reduce the impact on product quality and the length of unexpected downtime.
Control Valve Services at Baelz North America
At Baelz North America, we have extensive experience handling control components and systems. In addition to distributing high-performance control valves, we provide inspection, repair, and bench testing services. Equipped with comprehensive knowledge, our trained and certified technicians diagnose, service, repair, and test these components to ensure they remain in proper working order for the duration of their service lives.