4 Signs of a Healthy Fluid Ecosystem
by Jeff Hopkins, on 2/14/18 10:00 AM
On Valentine's Day, let's look at what thriving fluid systems look like
Our customers' facilities are ecosystems, if you will, made up of fluid systems + people. And thinking of them as ecosystems helps highlight ways to make it all hum.
- Jeff Hopkins, MarCom Manager, Swagelok Northern California
There are cheesy ways to connect Valentine's Day and fluid systems, like four ways to love your fluid system or don't break your fluid system's heart. But we won't go there.
But let's do focus for a minute on fluid systems' human factor. Our customers' facilities are ecosystems, if you will, made up of fluid systems + people. And thinking of them as ecosystems helps highlight ways to make it hum.
Labeling and layout speak volumes
Take something as small as placing tags on equipment to indicate what an operator is viewing. Try to color-code handles, hoses, tubing, and pipe to make it clear at a glance what types of fluids or gases are flowing through them, even in processes where hydrocarbons are not present. Also take care to orient components in a way that avoids accidental contact with moving objects or people passing by.
Simplicity is a strong indicator
Reduce system complexity where possible, and never stop looking for opportunities to make improvements. Simpler and streamlined systems will be easier to troubleshoot. Consult an expert who can make recommendations for making fewer connections and an optimized design. Ultimately, this reduces the number of parts that could potentially fail.
Component uniformity reflects master planning
Next, take choosing components. Leak-tight seals that will withstand high pressure, vibration, vacuum, and temperature changes depend on exacting tolerances, meticulous quality control, and time-tested design principles. Though components from different suppliers may look alike, there is no assurance they are manufactured to the same rigorous standards; meaning they may not perform properly when used with other manufacturers’ components.
Materials of construction as a sign
It may be tempting to save money on materials, but where the stakes are highest it is rarely worth the risk. Rely on products with a proven reputation. The market has become saturated with counterfeit and substandard inventory that can harm your operation. Only purchase through trusted partners and authorized channels. Also, know the difference between similar-sounding parts and be precise when deciding which to use. For instance, a safety valve (which opens fully at a set pressure) is not the same as a relief valve (which opens gradually as pressure increases).
What's next: We'll touch on 3 more indicators in a future article. Meantime, check out examples in the Case Studies section (three specific ones are listed below):
(Prefer to talk live? Please give us a call at 510-933-6200.)
- Mining OEM designs Swagelok into its emergency air systems (case study)
- Making a Supercollider Leak-Tight (case study)
- Shrinking Lab Panels to Fit (case study)