One of the largest suppliers of valves, actuated valves, and speciality products to the global marine market, Jacksonville, Fla., based W&O Supply, is launching a digital valve management service.
The service, which uses RFID technology to identify critical valves on board, addresses a situation in which many vessel operators lack even basic identifying information about the valves they have on their ships, such as type, material, age, or size. This leaves them struggling to maintain a clean valve database in their ERP (enterprise resource planning) system to allow automatic purchasing by their teams ashore. This lack of insight increases the risks of wrong delivery of valves in case of an unexpected breakdown, or means that replacements may not be fit for purpose, or may lack essential class testing, all wasting time and money.
Taking a digital approach to valve management helps vessel owners to avoid ad-hoc ordering and last-minute parts delivery that could delay their operations.
Vessel owners or ship managers often only review the condition of their critical valves when vessels are in dry dock. This increases pressure on dry dock management teams to have the ship refitted and back in operation as soon as possible. A pre-dry dock survey completed by an expert technical team to check and identify valves not only saves time and money in the up-coming dry dock but, by applying an RFID tag to the valve, makes future surveys quicker and simpler. The RFID tag contains details on the valve specification and its inspection and installation history, including survey photos, any safety pressure settings, and any relevant testing certificates.
By digitizing valve identification in this way, the crew, technical departments and purchasing groups will find it easier to track when valves need replacing and find the right parts. However, W&O believes that operators should go further, by properly digitalizing and linking the valves identified on-board across the fleet with their technical database and its purchasing system. This ensures that operators can supply their vessels with the right valves at the right time, wherever they are in the world.
“The budget spend on marine valves is only a very small percentage of the total running cost of a fleet. Over the years we learned that technical and purchasing teams spend a lot of time to get the correct valves on-board. There are a huge number of valves onboard every ship so an effective management process is essential to get this right, and it can be hugely costly when this process goes wrong,” says Kristof Adam, European managing director, W&O Supply. “Valves can cause a serious administrative headache during normal operations or when in dry-docking The use of RFID tags and digitizing valve management and administration makes identifying, ordering and supplying valves much simpler, reducing the risk of financial losses due to errors.”
“Digitizing valve data using RFID tagging allows owners to track the status of valves over time across their entire fleet and adopt a time-based maintenance strategy,” says Adam. “Knowing which valves they should be replacing, based on the data available on the RFID tag, will allow operators to eliminate costly run-to-fail approaches that lead to ad-hoc and ill-informed valve ordering, that too often means the wrong valves are ordered.”
A pre-dry dock valve survey is designed to mitigate the risks of getting valve orders wrong. The RFID tags make the valve easily identifiable and connect it to a digitalized valve inventory that allows a dry-dock project team to know exactly what valve type to order and its specifications. With a clear understanding of what valve to order, and any critical needs, such as class society testing ahead of time, valve installation during dry-docking is quicker and simpler, saving owners and operators time and money during this essential project.