Industrial valves are very important part of all process industries. Yet, they remain the most neglected partly because they are silent performers and their presence is felt more when they malfunction or break-down. Valves can be compared to traffic policemen who stop traffic, control the flow of traffic or divert traffic. You can only imagine the chaos that would be caused in the absence of a traffic cop. Likewise, valves are required for isolating flow, controlling the flow and for flow diversion. Different types of valves are used depending upon applications. Ball valves and gate valves are used for isolating purposes. Globe valves and needle valves are used for flow control. Three way, four way and six way ball valves are used for flow diversion. Check valves are used for unidirectional flow. Hydraulic valves are a family by themselves.
Each family of valves is further classified by size, pressure class, end connections, number of ports and material of construction. Thus, within one family of valves, say ball valves, the variety of products becomes endless. Hence, most of the valve making companies can focus on one particular variety of valves in one manufacturing facility. The larger multinational manufacturers have grown by taking over specialty valve manufacturing companies, available anywhere. The smaller valve manufacturers co-operate with each other to quote for all types of valves required in a particular project as it becomes practically impossible to manufacture all valves in one facility. This arrangement sometimes leads to delivery delays but the purchasing manager finds it convenient to follow up with one supplier.
Valve manufacturers of repute find it very difficult to quote for project orders by depending upon other valve manufacturers whose product quality and delivery commitments are doubtful. It becomes all the more difficult in case of product complaints which become the responsibility of the supplier who has procured the defective products. Providing repair service can also be a challenge as projects are established away from cities and sometimes have no proper transportation facility. Co-ordination between the supplier of valves, the actual manufacturer of valves, the project consultant, the erection contractor at site and the actual end user/ customer becomes the biggest challenge while resolving technical issues.
The end user must make efforts to procure different types of valves directly from manufacturers to avoid conflict. Though, the efforts required to identify a good manufacturer, the negotiations, follow-ups and other activities increase, it is finally a win-win situation for both parties as the products become cheaper without a middle-man and communication is more direct. The quality of products is better and the trust that the manufacturer will support the end user in case of a rare failure, is implied.