Thursday, September 5, 2013

Small Process, Big Problem: Sometimes the Solutions are Pretty Simple

Spring return handle ball valve
Spring return ball valve
Problem: Leaks, puddles and spills under the manual valve use for sampling solvents.

Scenario: Customer routinely draws samples of solvent for testing using manual ball valves. Manual valves are not closed tightly by operator, causing small leaks and minor spills. Leaks are not at first noticeable, but drips slowly over time leading to a potentially hazardous situation. Ultimately, its an operator error situation. The fix needs to remove the human from the process.


Lock Out Tag Out
Lock out mechanism
Fix: Install a "spring loaded handle" manual valve. This is a valve handle that forces the valve to close fully every time. Once the handle is released, the spring pushes the valve to the fully closed position, and therefor no leaks. The human factor that causes the spills is eliminated. 

Additionally, these spring return valves have lock-out mechanisms included to prevent accidental, or unauthorized opening as another safeguard.

The company experiencing this problem has now made these valves the Plant Standard for all sampling point valves. This kind of spill has been virtually eliminated. The valves are API607 Rev 4 Fire Safe Certified, and meet all Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) requirements for the plant as well.