Now that the economy is officially recovering, many positive industrial trends are leading the news: productivity is up, capacity utilization is improving, and corporate profits are healthy. Industrial manufacturers are on the rebound and order levels are strong.

Unfortunately, some less positive trends are also being exposed: workforces are increasingly thin, the average age of capital equipment is increasing, and the average experience level of workers has fallen. If left unchecked, these negative trends can magnify a company's liability and risk associated with industrial ovens, dryers, heaters or other process equipment.

In every fuel-fired heating device, a common array of safety devices work in combination with the burner to produce safe, reliable heat. Short of the flame-safeguard relay, perhaps the single most important device is the shutoff valve.

The purpose of a shutoff valve is to immediately (<1 sec) interrupt the supply of fuel to a burner when the control system requires an "off" condition. The "off" condition may be a loss of flame, a loss of a safety permissive or simply a power off condition on the heating equipment.

Shutoff valves earn their "most important device" designation because they are the effective parachute of a combustion system. For this reason, most codes require two valves for redundant safety depending upon the burner size and application.

The first key to enhancing loss prevention with shutoff valves is code compliance. The use of shutoff valves is governed by NFPA, CSA, IRI, FM and a wide variety of regional and industrial codes. Make sure you understand the applicable codes and standards for your location, for your industry, and for your insurance provider. After examining all applicable codes, make sure your combustion systems comply to existing codes and are properly applied with regard to NEMA rating, area classification, pressure rating and valve trim.

Beyond code compliance, education prevents accidents. For any employee who operates or maintains combustion systems, provide some degree of basic training on shutoff valves for identification, for operation and for maintenance. Damaged or bypassed shutoff valves are the common result of untrained employees expected to operate heating equipment.

Minimize your liability and risk by understanding applicable codes. Armed with a full understanding of codes, make sure all your shutoff valves comply. Next, educate your employees about safe operation and handling. Then create a documented, repeating inspection and maintenance program to provide an optimal level of loss prevention with shutoff valves.

Sidebar
Inspect and Maintain Your Parachute

Short of the flame-safeguard relay in a fuel-fired heating device, perhaps the single most important device is the shutoff valve.

The purpose of a shutoff valve is to immediately (<1 sec) interrupt the supply of fuel to a burner when the control system requires an "off" condition. The "off" condition may be a loss of flame, a loss of a safety permissive or simply a power off condition on the heating equipment.

Safety shutoff valves are a combustion system's equivalent of a parachute. For this reason, most codes require two valves for redundant safety depending upon the burner size and application.

The durability of most shutoff valves today is exceptional. However, just like with parachutes, shutoff valves must meet certain requirements. Some codes mandate annual inspections and leak tests of shutoff valves. Minimize your company's risk by performing these important checks and document their completion.

When functional checks or leak checks expose weak or slow shutoff valves, replace the valve. When replacing your "parachute," don't shop on price alone. There is no such thing as a bargain parachute. Cheaper usually means less reliable.

For more information

Contact Maxon. Call (765) 284-3304 or visit www.maxoncorp.com.

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