How many vendors in your industry not only provide solutions in response to requests, but actually offer them without being asked?

That’s the scenario a major Michigan steel mill encountered after The Macomb Group’s valve assembly engineer Kirk Humphrey noticed a disassembled valve during a plant shutdown inspection.

“I saw this valve, taken apart, and asked what was going on,” he recalls. “They said they were forced to rebuild the valve every six weeks because it kept failing. They asked about a price for a replacement.”

Crucial component 
The valve was a crucial component on a nitrogen purge line, used for removing impurities from the molten steel. Constant rebuilding or replacement was a costly process, not so much in terms of the parts, but in production downtime and labor costs.

“As they’re processing steel itself, this nitrogen purge was something that was constantly used, so there never was a good time to have this line down,” says Kirk.

His response was to think outside the box. If the valve kept failing so frequently, maybe it wasn’t right for the job: “We thought that instead of continuing doing what they’re doing here, there’s got to be a better way.”

Weighing up the important factors for valve selection — pressure, temperature, torque and function — he proposed replacing the existing device with a high-performance, triple-offset butterfly valve, rated for full vacuum and extremely low leakage, and an air-torque actuator.

“We submitted our own drawings for both the valve and the actuator,” says Kirk, “and explained why we thought this would be a much better fit for what they were trying to accomplish. They agreed the new solution probably would work much better.”

Going strong
It did. In fact, six months after installation, the Macomb solution is still working perfectly, with no downtime. And because the very intensive nature of the process does raise the risk of valve failure, the mill ordered a backup valve kit that they could quickly swap in should the need arise.

“It’s nice when you can go in and offer a real value-added solution,” Kirk adds. “The customer remembers that, too — because anyone could go in and just sell them what they already had and they would have continued through the same cycle of failure.

“What we try to do is offer something that’s going to add value, something that’s going to save them downtime, maintenance costs, labor costs, and overall system costs.”

Don’t just hope you’ll get better results — make them happen. When problems keep coming back, get a fresh perspective by contacting the experts at The Macomb Group by email at or by phone at 888-756-4110.