We have a customer that makes intermediate bulk containers, a type of thousand-liter transport tank. Their largest customer is Agip, a refinery in Ancona, Italy. We sold our customer a ball valve that excelled in closed loop applications where the tank is reused many times. Due to its durability, the valve was a great value on a per-trip or per-month basis, but the initial cost was too high.
Agip wanted a solvent resistant valve they could use for sales of solvents overseas or far from their refinery, where it was not feasible to use a closed loop system due to the large transport costs of returning the empty tanks.
We listened to our customer. Based on their expectation that the valve would be cheaper than our ball valve, we knew that the valve had to be a butterfly valve. We learned that the butterfly valves on the market suffered from two defects. First, they had a gasket that surrounded the disk, creating small spaces for low viscosity solvents to ooze through the valve. Second, they used materials that were not very solvent resistant.
We knew we could improve on the products that existed on the market. First we worked to eliminate the possibility of solvents seeping through the valve’s disk. We created a disk that was fully encapsulated in ETFE, which is a highly chemical resistant fluoropolymer similar to Teflon. This encapsulation ensured that when closed only EFTE, and none of the structural materials, was in contact with the solvent in the tank. Then we created an offset seal on the disk. An offset seal works like a cork in a wine bottle. The walls of our valve are slightly tapered so that the diameter decreases closer to the back of the valve. The final motion of the disk and the stem push the disk backwards, forcing it into a more narrow section of the valve body. The result is a mechanical seal that is not possible on a normal butterfly valve.
Finally, we designed a variation of the valve body that could be welded to the tank with a quartz lamp. Welding the valve allowed us to eliminate the gasket between the valve and the tank, significantly reducing the potential for leakage while also removing the cost of the gasket.
Why we were successful:
We were success for several reasons.
First, we listened to our customer to understand their problem.
Second, our precision process allowed us to manufacture to tight tolerances, ensuring a consistent product.
Third, we used top quality raw materials.
Fourth, we developed computerized, pressure-differential test procedures that gave us an advantage in the market place.
Call us today. We are excited to hear about the challenges you are facing.