Have you ever wondered how unbranded products are available at very low prices compared to the branded ones? We often purchase those products with our eyes open, fully aware that the products may not perform as expected. But, we love to challenge our luck just as we do when we buy a lottery ticket. This behavior is acceptable for personal goods but for critical industrial products like valves, quality and performance should rate much higher than price. A leader in a sector has to ensure that their product meets or exceeds quality and performance parameters, every time. The costs for material testing, product approvals, product certifications, marketing, brand promotion, quality inputs etc. are factored in to the cost of the final product. An unbranded valve manufacturer, on the other hand, does away with many or most of the critical testing to produce a sub-standard but cheaper product. A cheap
valve exposes the buyer to the following risks:
Quality Matter No.1: Cheaper Material Grade
Some unscrupulous valve manufacturers substitute a cheaper grade of stainless steel, for example SS304 for SS316 to save on material costs. Superficially, it is very difficult for the buyer, to know the difference. In some cases, the cost of the manufactured valve is less than the cost of the proper grade raw material. Obviously, the valve does not perform satisfactorily in the intended application. It often fails prematurely, attracting extra replacement cost, man-hours and process downtime, all adding up to a huge cost of ownership. The loss can be unlimited if there is an accident involving human life, due to the poor quality of raw material.
Quality Matter No. 2: Poor Design
Poor design can encompass a whole gamut of issues like thinner casting sections to reduce weight, weaker components or wrong design features. Thinner sections do not allow for corrosion allowance and hence fail early. Some manufacturers sell “fire safe design” valves which have an additional secondary metal seat, as expected. However, the design is neither tested for fire safe performance nor certified. The prices of these valves is obviously very low compared to branded and certified products. These safety features are brought into play in very rare circumstances during a fire accident and are very important. Buyers should insist on fire safe certification before proceeding to purchase such uncertified products with poor design.
Quality Matter No. 3: Use of Poorly Machined Components
When valve components are poorly machined and are not consistent dimensionally, all the valves manufactured in a batch, do not perform similarly. The operating torques are not consistent and require a larger actuator to operate the valves. Sometimes the valves fail due to ill-fitted components in the assembly. In addition, if spares are procured for replacement in the field, they do not fit which can lead to increased downtime.
Quality Matter No 4: No Testing of Valves
This is the case with many of the valves purchased from traders. The valves leak immediately upon installation. Traders willingly replace the valve but the lost time cannot be replaced. It is clear from the above Quality matters that Quality indeed matters.