Valves – the devil is in the detail

Valves technology.
© Hohenloher Molkerei

Valves are part of the daily work of every dairy. And anyone who deals with valves on an everyday basis knows that the devil is in the detail – because even minor faults can severely disrupt production.

Valves under constant stress

Milk production subjects valves to a number of different stresses. This problem largely affects the essential moving parts that are critical to the job of opening and closing pipes. Valves are also equipped with seals that wear out over time: Temperature and pressure fluctuations, water hammer, cleaning or steam sterilization take their toll on any seal, even without the human errors that can unnecessarily shorten valve lifespan.

What can go wrong: some possible valve faults

Butterfly valves are subject to temperature-induced changes in volume that must be absorbed by the valve components and especially the seals. Seals swell up and protrude into the product flow, causing particles to be eroded away. This affects not just the quality of the end product, but also the functioning of the valve: If the disk can’t move into the correct 90-degree position, an entire production line can be put out of action. In seat valves, tracks can occur on the disk and valve stem, allowing dirt to find its way into the product and affecting the valve’s ability to seal correctly. With one-piece valve disks, seat sealing can be literally ripped out.

These faults are disruptive and expensive enough as it is, but things are even more serious when it comes to areas that need to be kept sterile. Damage that may even go unnoticed for a time can lead to whole production batches being rejected or even to product recalls – with all the implications this entails for the producer.

Continuous optimization

Valve manufacturers continuously monitor the performance of their components in everyday use. Redesigns after fault analysis are the norm and contribute to the continuous improvement of valves. A wealth of new designs and enhancements will be on show at this year’s drinktec. With their sensitive products, visitors from the milk industry will be well rewarded by the comprehensive overview of valve design and manufacture today. In addition, the Focus Day: Milk on September 15 will offer you all the information you need on topics relating to milk production. There’s no need to spend hours researching: you can quickly get all the information you need on the website or using the drinktec app.

You can find the latest blog entry on the topic of milk production here.

Roland Sossna

The trained dairy expert, agricultural engineer and freelance journalist Roland Sossna is part of the editorial staff of the trade magazine molkerei-industrie (dairy industry) and IDM International Dairy Magazine. He regularly presents outstanding innovations from the dairy industry on the blog.