PM Engineer did a quick spot check with a few valve manufacturers to get their take on the commercial/industrial landscape heading into the new year and beyond.
In terms of trends, Rick Wentzell, marketing division executive at Bonomi North America, says designers, engineers and industrial end-users are now looking to ensure the valves they order are chemically correct.
“Specifically, and due to the vast amounts of imported valves currently entering the United States, many valves, especially the corrosion-resistant type like the stainless steels, the brasses and bronzes — users of these products now want verification or proof of the elements used in the valve manufacturing process.
“In the last 30 years or so, a handful of Far East manufacturers of corrosion-resistant valves, to reduce costs, have chosen to alter the chemical elements in their process to cast valves, thus submitting inferior-quality products for water or chemical applications, resulting in some valve failures.”
Wentzell notes to avoid sub-standard valves, engineers and end-users have instituted the use of quality assurance certificates of the metals used in the valve construction, which comes in the form of mill test reports (MTRs), to verify the metals comply with international standards such as ASME or ASTM.
“The industry trend in both the commercial and industrial market segments requesting transparency of valves is much stronger today than in the last five years or so and growing,” he notes.
Luke Paulo, manager, product portfolio development at Viega, says end-users are looking for simplicity, reliability and speed.
“The prior trend for larger-diameter valves, regardless of joining method, was to use a butterfly, gate or globe valve with the majority being butterfly,” he explains. “As larger-diameter ball valves become more common, integrators switched to that style for its reliability and simplicity of operation and installation.”
Paulo adds depending on the valve type and pattern, companion flanges might be required, which he notes, drives up cost and/or complexity.
“Valve seats and stops in the flow path can degrade depending on the media in the piping system,” he says. “With their simplicity and reliability, ball valves have filled a void in the market for larger-format valves. The design allows for minimal seat and stop exposure to the media, reduces turbulence and pressure drop, etc. The construction and materials needed for a ball valve drive up cost, but the elimination of flanges, the improved reliability and speed of installation offset those costs. The cost might not be justified in all cases, but for most installations, a better design and improved reliability will outweigh a lower cost option.”
Outlook for 2022 and beyond
Viega’s Paulo says as the valve market evolves and the demand for ball valves and other types of valves grows, innovation will be key in providing customer solutions.
“Control compatibility, multiple configurations and patterns, and quality material selection will drive usage,” he says. “As buildings become more efficient, right sizing and flow control innovation will be in higher demand. New valve materials and application approvals will be needed to various liquid and gas-type applications.”
Paulo predicts the industry will see trends for material quality in regard to continuously circulating systems of all types, water quality and management applications, as well as continued development in special materials for handling installation-specific media.
Paulo lists seawater or corrosive material as an example.
“These valve constructions will need to withstand harsh conditions and maintain reliability while still providing speed and simplicity,” he explains. “The industrial market, for example, has high demand for reliability and durability. Consider isolation of sulfuric acid line by valve lockout for routine maintenance of connected equipment — the valve must hold — no exceptions. The opportunity to provide a fast, quality solution with robust reliability is key to success.”
Paulo notes as building construction becomes more digitized, he is seeing a trend toward more digital valve options.
“Actuation that can be tied to the building management system is a growing market, as well as smart control options in general,” he says. “Another trend is the emergence of press options for valves. While these have been available for many valve types in copper systems, steel and stainless steel press valves are emerging.”
Bonomi’s Wentzell points out the valve industry does not change much in a single year or even in a few years. However, Wentzell says changes that are constantly evolving are the remotely controlled valves, and proportional control of fluids.
“Remotely controlled valves have been growing fast for the last 20 years or so,” he says. “Simply, it costs money to have a person or persons overseeing a pipeline process manually, so a highly computerized separated control room with fewer people is now the norm for in-plant and OEM use.”
Wentzell notes the old on-and-off valves of yesterday “are quickly being replaced by positioning models in conjunction with sophisticated sizing software to facilitate any pipeline process to manufacture a product(s),” he says. “The theory is that a single valve with the right add-on high-performance signal-oriented accessories will streamline any process and thus take the place of multiple valves in the system. These high-tech accessories to the valves are growing every year for new applications, and, of course, in sophistication as well.”
In terms of a commercial-based outlook for 2022, Tom LaGuardia, vice president of sales and marketing at Milwaukee Valve, provides this insight.
“Looking in 2022, commercial construction is forecasted to be up slightly, but recovery in the office buildings, recreation, dormitories will be slow as developers look to the future use of these types of buildings,” LaGuardia told the American Supply Association’s ASA Review publication for its state of the PVF industry supply chain story in its Q4 2021 issue. “Healthcare should remain strong along with data centers and any infrastructure work on the books by and for the government.”