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Advice for Choosing a Valve Service Repair Company for Your Next Outage

by , | Sep 22, 2023 | Services, Consulting & Training, Valves, Actuators & Regulators

Maddie Neu

Maddie Neu

Global Marketing Manager, Lifecycle Services for Valves, Actuators & Regulators

Choosing a valve maintenance company that you can trust is difficult. During a shutdown or outage, you want your plant back up and running as quickly and safely as possible, while staying within budget and completing reliable repairs. Here are some tips from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) on what kind of provider you should choose to protect your assets.

 

Tip 1 – Investigate their “valve service expertise”

Service expertise is determined by:

  • A high tenure of valve technicians
  • A robust technician training program

Ask what the tenure of their technicians is. Do they have a proper technician training program? Do they partner with any OEMs to attend valve manufacturer’s training courses?

You want a provider, who is the expert in troubleshooting valve issues – someone, who has “seen it all” and will be quick to identify problems and resolve them. This is why you want trained and experienced technicians handling your assets.  A provider may also have a relationship with a valve manufacturer, who can help the service provider resolve issues quickly and save valuable time during a shutdown. A prime example of this is an Emerson Accredited Service Provider, who not only, has access to Emerson, but also a network of over 140 other valve service providers across the globe that share best practices on how to solve complex issues.  This combination of experienced, factory-trained technicians and a strong relationship with a valve manufacturer is sure to serve you well during your event.

 

Tip 2 – Notice if they provide support during outage planning

There are two things you want to avoid: not repairing a valve that desperately needs it and paying to repair a valve that doesn’t need it. You need a service provider that will help you avoid both scenarios with the capability of assessing valve health and diagnosing issues. To take full advantage of this capability, you want a provider that can do online diagnostics well in advance of your shutdown.  It is great to find a provider with these capabilities to partner with you in the planning phase of your outage. Scoping is generally not something included in a bid, so this can be handled separately and well in advance of a planned shutdown. Diagnosing the health of your critical valves can help you to optimize your outage budget by determining:

  • which valves need to be repaired and what parts are needed.
  • which valves don’t need to be repaired and can be taken off the scope.
  • which valves are more economical to replace.

You can see why doing this well in advance of the outage is essential to take advantage of standard lead times and avoid high expediting costs.

While assessing your valves’ condition, a provider might schedule a walk-down of your assets and scan or run diagnostics on your valves, especially the critical ones. Once they have a more accurate picture of the condition, they can make recommendations on which valves should remain on the scope for repair, what parts will be required, and which valves are better to replace. Overall, this will provide a more accurate bid and will optimize your outage budget.

 

Tip 3 – Find a company that’s not a one-trick pony

Outage season is already busy enough. You can save time by limiting the number of vendors you communicate with. To decrease the number of vendors you have on-site, you might want to look at service providers that offer a holistic approach to service. A provider that can handle a broad range of valves (like control, isolation, and pressure relief valves) while still having a depth of knowledge and experience to reduce complexity and logistics. In addition to repair, they should also have engineering, inventory, and automation capabilities. These diverse skillsets can really get you out of a jam when something unforeseen comes up (and it will).

 

Tip 4 – Ask if they are audited

Quality manuals and processes are important to ensure your valves are returned to specification, no matter the condition the valve originally came in. It’s good practice to inquire if a provider is routinely audited by an outside organization to ensure their work is done competently, safely, and consistent with their quality manual. Unfortunately, there are repair companies that are highly inconsistent in what they turn out. The valve might have a new coat of paint, but how will it operate after startup?

Some plants may conduct surprise audits on their service provider’s shops to ensure that valves are being properly repaired. If you have the resources, this can be a good option.  Other providers, like Emerson’s Accredited Service Providers, are routinely audited by their OEM partner to ensure the quality, safety, and competency of every service facility.

You can also ask for quality assurance documentation on the valves. The best providers will have repair reports on each valve, so you can see the valve’s as-found condition, their recommended repairs & part replacements, and the valve’s as-left condition. You should ask for an example report during the bid process, so you know what to expect.

 

Tip 5 – Consider that not all hourly rates are created equal

When sending a scope of work out to bid, do you ask providers to include their hourly rates? The providers with lower rates, are they also delivering lower value?   The truth is that an hour of their time is worthless to you; it’s what they accomplish in that hour that adds value. So how do you ensure that everyone delivers the same value, so you can truly compare prices? The answer is to ask for something more outcome-based.

One approach is to define the scope of work and the specification your valves should be repaired to. Then, ask providers to bid a fixed price for the repair and state their assumptions. You may still have unforeseen conditions during the outage that will require change orders (which can be minimized if you follow Tip 2), but bids will be more “apples-to-apples” and you’ll know what you’re getting for the price.

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on hourly rates. The more inexpensive providers can derail your outage and still break your budget with overages and change orders.

 

Do you want to know which valve services companies Emerson recommends? Please visit our Valve Service Provider Locator webpage to find our hand-picked providers near you. Learn more about our Accredited Service Provider program here.

 

About the featured expert:
During Brandon’s almost 20 years in the valve industry, he’s held key roles in valve manufacturing, engineering and service among others. He’s planned and run turnarounds at end-user sites and currently leads Emerson’s global Accredited Service Provider program driving local access to OEM valve service around the world. Brandon has his BS in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and an Executive MBA from the University of Washington.

 

 

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.