Speakers Share Expertise at 2019 Knowledge Forum

Technology has been advancing at a pace that may be faster than our ability to protect it, according to Pat Toth, cybersecurity program manager with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Toth was keynote speaker at the second VMA Valve Industry Knowledge Forum, April 9-11 in Birmingham, AL.
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Now that digital technology has found its way onto the factory floor, the responsibilities of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) have converged, Toth said. To keep data safe, companies need to protect:

  • Confidentiality: Unauthorized access and disclosures need to be prevented.
  • Integrity: Unauthorized modification or use (for example, changing specifications) need to be prevented.
  • Availability: Disruptions or destruction of systems and data must be prevented, and recovery achieved.

Cybersecurity is only part of information security, she stressed, along with personnel security, operational security, contingency planning and disaster recovery, physical security and privacy. In addition to the obvious risks and costs, Toth said recovery from an attack could include expenses such as the cost of a consultant to recover lost data or fines imposed for allowing a data breach.

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NIST offers publications to aid small businesses in preparing and implementing security measures and guidelines specifically for manufacturing businesses.

Defense contractors or subcontractors can access the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), which defines additional cybersecurity and reporting requirements. NIST offers similar guidance here.

Besides the keynote, attendees at the Knowledge Forum had several other tracks from which to learn: Technical, Manufacturing, and Marketing & Management. (The latter track will be highlighted in future posts on VALVEmagazine.com.)


The first technical session was an overview of ASME B16.34, including recent and anticipated changes, presented by Carlos Davila, product manager at Crane ChemPharma & Energy. Later in the forum Davila also presented updates on other industry standards from ASME, API and MSS.

Valves in Harsh Environments: Steve Carpenter, field services manager at Wachs Water Service, provided information on the range of scenarios where water system valves can be damaged by cavitation. He said one troubling area are situations in which a gate valve is used for throttling.

“Taking their control behavior into account, shutoff valves can be used to control flow under certain conditions. However, their operation is limited by the noise they emit and by cavitation,” he said.

Transport of mine tailings slurry and similar materials also present severe challenges to valves, according to Paul van Oudenaren, North American sales manager, Bray Flow-Tek, Inc.

Finding Root Causes of Coating Failures: Neil Pittman, senior coating specialist at Lake Superior Consulting, provided information on coating failures in valve and pipe applications, but pointed out that, in most of the cases he discussed, the fault can be traced to a failure to follow established procedures when applying the coating. He cited “normalization of deviance,” in which people in an organization gradually become accustomed to cutting corners or not fully following procedures. Even companies certified to ISO 9001 can be subject to this phenomenon if no one is monitoring processes, he said.

In one example of a coating failure, Pittman showed intercoat delamination where the coating let go during hydrotesting. The cause of the failure was a too-short of a curing time for an inorganic zinc primer. While the process required 24 hours to cure, the primer and topcoat often were applied during the same shift. This was because when schedules were tight, cure time was shortened to meet the delivery schedule.

Simulating Flow Loop Testing: Computational fluid dynamics can be used to simulate valve capacity tests, explained Sandip Jadhav, CEO at the Centre for Computational Technologies. This virtual alternative for flow loop testing can help valve manufacturers perform validation and performance testing early in the design process. Jadhav showed examples of flow loop simulation and explained how machine learning can help develop models for design of specific valves.

Real-Time Performance Monitoring: Stan Hale, senior director at MRC Global, explained how automated, online valve performance monitoring can become a reality and pointed to these imperatives for valve automation suppliers in the 21st century:

  • They must adapt to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart plants and learn how best to use predictive analytics.
  • They will need to offer technology-compatible engineered solutions for automated valves.
  • They should provide methods for post-delivery support.

Rayaz Ali, senior director of instrumentation technology, Emerson Automation Solutions, shared with attendees how smart field devices enable monitoring and timely maintenance of valves. Many conditions can be diagnosed, such as internal galling, downstream restriction or a bad pressure sensor, he pointed out. A basic principle used for this monitoring is baseline validation of new valves, or “birth certificates,” which enable detection of any degradation during service.


Keith Sink, director of global supply chain support services at Emerson Automation Solutions, described an approach to optimizing the supply chain when dealing with the global picture. Historically, companies in high-cost countries moved to build up suppliers in China, he said.

Tim Mansfield, senior manufacturing projects and initiatives leader at Baker Hughes−GE Flow and Process Technologies, offered a case study of dealing with the new tariffs. BHGE’s network of six global factories in the U.S., China, India, Japan, France and Mexico allows the company to rebalance its production as needed, he said. Expert teams work to understand the many changes, including tariffs, and adapt accordingly. What the company has found so far is that: costs are rolling in, the exemptions have not played out and new vendors can offer some cost relief with flexibility.

With the situation “moving at the speed of business, indecision is not our friend,” he pointed out.

Getting Smart on the Floor: IIoT is in the news, but Mohammad Abuali, CEO at IoTco, and Edzel Lapira, president and CEO, Predictronics Corporation, outlined what it can do on the ground in real-world ways to use the wealth of data potentially available.

They proposed a predictive maintenance and predictive quality model, which means shifting from a fail-and-fix reactive approach to a predict-and-prevent approach. The idea is to monitor equipment and predict when maintenance or repair is needed before the equipment goes down, they said.

One example is a machining center that has monitoring tool balance, feed axes, coolant and spindle bearings. The diagnostics performed for each critical component here can contribute to an overall machine tool health index.

Both productivity and operator safety stand to benefit from the use of industrial robots, added Tom Moylan, regional automation manager, ACIETA. He described the deployment of robots at Clow Valve Company. In one manufacturing cell at that company, the operator handled too much weight so that setup time often offset production benefits. Integrating an M900 robot and three human-machine cooperation robots led to productivity improvements that produced payback in two years instead of the expected three.

State agencies stand ready to help provide and train the workforce needed for smarter factories, said Kristi Bane, assistant director for North Alabama AIDT (Alabama’s workforce development agency) and Christopher Roquemore, assistant manager at AIDT. Robots, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, IIoT and other innovations require skills that workers can acquire in industry-specific training programs provided at no cost to the hiring companies, they pointed out.


A combined Technology and Manufacturing track on the last day of the forum focused mainly on 3D printing or additive manufacturing technologies. While 3D printed parts are not suitable for end-use applications—such as holding pressure because of factors such as porosity—the technology is ripe for some purposes, speakers said.

Nick Sondej, senior applications engineer at Markforged, said any plant can use 3D printing right now for plastic tooling, fixtures and similar components. He showed examples of 3D-printed robot end-of-arm grippers, work holding soft jaws and inspection fixtures.

He also outlined a 3D technology that can reinforce printed parts in select areas (continuous filament fabrication, for example, which embeds carbon fiber in the plastic), among other innovative 3D technologies.

“Use 3D printing to accelerate, not replace, your conventional manufacturing process,” he said.

Sondej said that, in addition to the familiar creation of prototypes, 3D printing can also fit well into the design and manufacturing process for applications such as creating a 3D-printed version of an as-cast part on which to test CNC toolpaths.

Sand-casting molds can be 3D printed using a binder-jetting type of additive manufacturing, added Tony Badamo, president at Hazelton Casting. With this technology, foundries can create molds and cores that were previously impossible to make and can take advantage of different geometries and orientations for the mold.

Tolerances for both 3D-printed and conventional technology are about the same, he said. However, the sand used for 3D-printing molds is finer-grained and more consistent in size and shape than conventional sand and can produce a better as-cast surface finish. 3D printed sand molds are ideal for some applications, he said, including difficult-to-cast parts. Also, they can sometimes speed the turnaround time for a special order. One example he gave was a replacement part for a mixer almost 100 years old. Spares were not available for the equipment, and the customer needed a new mixing rotor. The sand mold for the rotor was designed for 3D-printing based on original drawings for the part, and the new rotor was ready in about three weeks, he said.

, assistant professor at the Pennsylvania State University Shape Lab, took a wider, deeper view of the state of additive technologies. He discussed existing hybrid technologies, which combine additive and subtractive manufacturing on the same machine. For instance, a CNC machining center can incorporate a head that adds material at the desired locations. NIST has funded a two-year project to produce a roadmap: the Consortium for Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing Integrating Technologies.

Manogharan also discussed research on improving metal casting by using the novel geometries possible in 3D-printed, sand-casting molds. For example, a helical-shaped sprue improved mold filling and solidification to produce less porosity than the same part made with conventional sprue geometry.

Some companies are already taking advantage of both 3D-printed parts and 3D-printed sand molds.

, director, global manufacturing additive metal technology at Emerson Automation Solutions, showed a valve for which the body and bonnet were cast in a 3D-printed sand mold, which included 3D-printed parts as trim components. Rutishauser said an ideal application for 3D printing today is for a company with many custom-engineered solutions and a selection of low-volume, high-variability parts. Among several examples, she showed a complex part that could not be made by conventional methods: an anti-cavitation valve trim component designed a decade ago. Now, her company is testing a version made by additive manufacturing.

Barbara Donohue is web editor for VALVEmagazine.com.