Procurement of valves for a project presents itself as a challenge to the Project manager. This is because of the variety of valves required in a project- be it ball valves (manual or actuated, floating or trunnion mounted, two way or multiport), gate valves (rising stem, non-rising stem or knife gate valve), check valves (swing check valve, non-slam check valve or lift check valve), globe valves (regular or Y type globe valve), butterfly valves (lug type or flanged type), plug valves (two way or multiport, manual or actuated), hydraulic valve for high pressure, pinch valves for slurry and the list goes on. Further, there is a classification based on the material of construction (WCB, CF8, CF8M etc.) and end connections (screwed end- BSP, NPT, BSPT, NPTF etc, socket weld end, butt weld end, and flanged end). Flanged end valves are further classified into pressure classes like 150#, 300#, 600#, PN10, PN16 etc. and country wise standards like ASA, DIN, JIS, BS, EN etc. Of course, size of valves range from 1/4″ to 60″ and above- Phew!
The sheer variety of valves makes it impossible for one company to manufacture all types. Unlike hardware items like bolts, nuts, pipes etc. which are normally available ex-stock, it is impossible for any one company to maintain an inventory of all types of valves. Valve requirement, quantity, size, and type, typically undergoes a number of changes as the project implementation progresses. Hence, the final list of valves required is available only as the pipeline work nears the end. This leaves the project manager very less time for the ordering and procurement of valves. The project manager has to rely on his project a consultant’s recommendation for supplier selection or scout for new manufacturers. The tender process, technical and commercial negotiation and final order generation take up a good chunk of the available time.
Valve manufacturers are always at the receiving end as the time allotted for supply is much less than what is normally required. Valve manufacturers knowingly accept L-D Clause terms, like a discount, while accepting an order. Valve industry is not looked upon as a manufacturing entity with its own set of problems and lead time requirements. This is mainly because the ratio of the total cost of valves to the project cost is very small. The fragmented and specialized nature of manufacturing ensures that valve manufacturers remain small compared to the customer size and hence are not accorded any importance. Valve manufacturing is a batch process and not a continuous high volume process. What is forgotten is that a delay in supply of valves can bring the entire project implementation to a halt and lead to huge losses. Foundries who supply castings to valve manufacturers work under huge time constraints. Sometimes there are casting defects which can undermine the quality of valves. These show up at the very end of the manufacturing cycle at the valve testing stage and brings more misery to valve manufacturers. Rework, rejection or replacements are required which further delays valve supplies. To add to the misery, sometimes, third-party inspection agencies appointed by customers, do not have inspectors available to conduct a timely inspection. This leads to further delays.
In view of the above, it is imperative that project consultants, project managers, and customers allot sufficient time, typically 6- 8 weeks for good quality valve manufacturing. Some understanding of the typical problems faced by valve manufacturers will go a long way in early ordering for valves and reduce project delays. It is hoped that this post shall help all concerned to E-Valve.