[ID] => 11406
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-08-22 10:05:55
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-08-22 09:05:55
[post_content] => Fort Vale was set up in 1967, initially to manufacture parts for the road tanker industry, beginning with a 2.5-inch, cast iron, three-way valve for tankers supplying heating oil to residential properties. Since then, as sales director Graham Blanchard explains, the company has gone from strength to strength and is now the world’s leading precision manufacturer of valves and fittings for bulk liquid transfer in the tank container, road tanker and rail industries.
“Success like that doesn’t happen by accident,” Blanchard says. “It’s been a simple set of principles that have helped us to succeed for over 50 years - hard work, dedication and innovation. We have always believed that the best way to lead is from the front, by setting an example - by being leaders, not followers - and we have found that maintaining these core values with our industry-leading safety, precision and quality can give us an advantage over competitors in a global marketplace.
“For example, our market-leading Safeload range of API bottom loading couplers is the first choice for many oil majors,” Blanchard continues. “Safeload delivers the most secure connection with minimum wear to the truck adaptor and is proven to be very reliable and long lasting in the relentless service conditions of a road-loading terminal.”
Staying ahead of the competition means continuous product development. Blanchard explains the latest product: “We’ve recently introduced a new API coupler to our coupler range, ‘Safeload Green’. It has been designed to capture diesel/gasoil product loss at truck disconnect and is available in our semi-automatic 6-bar and 10 -bar range.
“Our decision to introduce the ‘Safeload Green’ has been driven by the knowledge that driver safety can be massively improved simply by minimising the risk of their slipping on spilt product while loading their vehicle,” Blanchard says. “Our API works by capturing any excess diesel fuel lost at disconnect - excess fuel runs down into the ‘designed-in’ cup within the API casting and is emptied when it is connected to a parking nose. It's a simple design and easy to maintain with little to go wrong and, like all our products, is made to last.”
It is important that not only is the API coupler on the loading arm performing, but that the adaptor on the truck also meets the API 1004 specification and does not retain additional product on its face at disconnect.
“This has led us to also introduce a Truck Adaptor Measurement Tool. We have designed this to check that the truck adaptors meet the tolerances laid out in the API 1004 specification - i.e. alignment of truck adaptor poppet and sealing face +/- 0.38 mm - so when used in combination the new API Green and Truck Adaptor tool, we believe we offer a safer solution for the industry,” Blanchard stresses.
A BIT OF HISTORY
So where did it all begin for Fort Vale? In the early years its products served the petroleum and petrochemical industry and included aluminium products such as nozzles and other fuel delivery equipment. Stainless steel equipment arrived in 1981 with the launch of the first self-seal coupler, the Drytyt dry disconnect range. “It was so successful that we were then approached by one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world and asked if we could do something similar for the chemicals market - they felt it was possible to develop an API coupler that was better than anything currently available on the market,” Blanchard adds. “As a result of this, we launched the Safeload Mk1 API coupler in 1996. The range offered standard pressure (6 bar MAWP) or high pressure (10 bar MAWP) options and was an instant success.
“Our development programme has ensured that constant monitoring and testing of the coupler solves any problems that may occur with heavy use and are spotted before it comes to market - in the vast number of cases (99 per cent), incompatible seals are the worst offender,” Blanchard says.
“While we are an established leader in the UK we are also seeing that growth is continuing as emerging countries move from top-loading to bottom-loading systems, which are considerably safer,” Blanchard says. “The same development ethos means that we now market the Mk4 semi-automatic coupler. This product development is to satisfy those markets whose operating conditions demand a bottom loading coupler with a high-pressure rating, namely a 16-bar internal pressure in the closed position and a 10-bar open pressure.
“The internal geometry of the Mk4 Safeload has been refined so as to make the valve easier to close using less force in these intensive conditions. This gives both an ergonomic advantage and effectively eases the difficulties of product displacement. A new-style spindle and poppet arrangement helps to cut down on turbulence within the coupler. Both the release handle and the triggers have been re-engineered to render these components stronger and less susceptible to wear and damage. This kind of ongoing development, coupled with our standard three-year warranty scheme, really does give terminal operators complete peace of mind,” Blanchard says.
Fort Vale is synonymous with excellence in engineering and the company takes pride in being at the cutting edge of technology. “We have total control over all processes from research and development, design, investment casting, pressing, forging, plasma and laser cutting, to assembly, testing and certification,” Blanchard says.
“Multiple in-house test facilities are suitable for the full range of products from impact testing, air and liquid flow tests to high-pressure testing for gas valves,” he adds. “Specialist and bespoke work is our key strength - we can quickly develop a design concept through to a finished product completely in-house - and we have found that this gives us a sizeable advantage over our competitors.
“This can be seen in a number of ways. For example, when we launched the High-Pressure Safeload API coupler at Tank Storage Singapore in 2015, it was to highlight important new developments,” Blanchard continues. The new coupler incorporated a brand new additional safety feature, the interlock latch, which was designed to eliminate accidental actuation of the coupler in case of lateral impact, thereby preventing any risk of product spillage. This interlock latch is in addition to the unique Safeload design of the extended wrap-around latches, which ensure maximum safety and security of connection and minimise wear to both the latches and the adaptor.
“It’s easy of course to outline the many benefits of Fort Vale products - it’s part of my job, but that job is made much easier when we receive manager reports like this: ‘Customers consistently report their complete satisfaction with the long-term reliability of the Safeload API coupler, in fact one of our European clients has over 150 couplers in service and has had zero maintenance issues after 7 years of constant heavy use’.
“Testimonials like that not only make my job easier, they make it a pleasure,” Blanchard concludes.
[post_title] => Fort Vale: Couple-up
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => fort-vale-couple
[post_modified] => 2019-08-22 10:05:55
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-22 09:05:55
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=11406
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