Valves & Actuators: The Path to Greater Efficiency & Performance

Valves and actuators are critical in almost every aspect of power plant operations. They are used in a wide range of applications, including pollution control, feed water, cooling water, chemical treatment, bottom ash and steam turbine control systems. They are exposed to a variety of chemicals, abrasive materials and very high temperatures. They are critical in optimizing efficiency, and they are often the final control element in the operation of a power plant. Although the basic technology for most valves and actuators has remained unchanged, innovative applications and design modifications for problem solving have led to notable improvements in actuator technology. These improvements can reduce costs by supporting the control valve’s ability to throttle accurately, thereby providing better performance for high-pressure steam bypass, turbine bypass and other critical power plant operations. The actuator and valve create a single unit — the control valve. Actuators perform different motion sequences, including linear, pivoting and rotating motions, and they are powered by pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical energy. Actuators receive a control signal from automation systems. Th...

Lean thinking + Carts = Major efficiency & productivity gains

Last year, Forum Energy Technologies’ Stafford, Texas, production plant was getting close to running out of capacity. Part of a global oilfield service and equipment company, the plant makes a variety of valves across seven different brands. Of particular concern was the plant’s PBV ball valve production area, which produces trunnion-mounted, quarter-turn ball valves in sizes ranging from 3/4-inch to 36 inches. Open since 1999, the plant revolved around a traditional manufacturing mindset, where a forklift is used to bring parts to one worker, who proceeds to build all of the necessary items for the valve. Then, a forklift comes back to move the completed ball valve to the next stage. But, that setup didn’t work so well when the plant’s business increased significantly. “When business increased, we knew that we needed to improve the product flow in our plant by eliminating waste and reducing cycle times,” says David Tummins, plant manager. “We knew that would help us build and finish valves faster than we were doing with the traditional setup.” Tummins joined Forum Energy Technologies about two years ago and began to attack the biggest problem, which was a lack of capacity in th...