The valves industry has seen great change during the past ten years. Requirements for specialist ranges have shifted, and the flexibility of core valve packages has grown enormously. Tom Wilson, business development director for BSS, discusses these changes, and looks at the choices available to today's valve specifier
Ten years ago, the valve market was led by a small number of manufacturers. The product range had been fairly stable for some time and offered mainly static commissioning and ancillary products, such as isolation, strainers and check valves.
This met the demands of the industry at the time, but the market was beginning to develop. A number of new suppliers were starting to appear on the scene, many of which have gone on to become established suppliers to the UK HVAC market, and product development was really beginning to take shape.
These changes needed to come about, to keep up with engineering advances elsewhere in the industry. During the past decade, we have seen developments in energy efficiency, changes in government legislation, rising levels of competition, increasingly complex building systems, and pressure to find best value solutions.
All these factors have played a role in the progression of the valve market - for example, ten years ago variable volume systems, such as differential pressure valves, had not been developed. But now they are being included in the majority of design specifications.
Looking at government legislation, bacteria within domestic hot water systems have become a major issue. Products such as thermal balancing valves are now being used to maintain a constant return temperature, which renders the bacteria harmless.
BSS has a comprehensive valve range under its BOSS brand, which means it is able to fulfil the majority of valve requirements on HVAC projects. For example, in the case of bacterial problems in domestic hot water systems, BSS offers BOSS Circon and Temcon valves.
One of the most recent changes in the industry is the shift towards dynamic balancing valves and two port control systems with variable volume pumps.
The innovation in static balancing, however, is the Venturi orifice. This negates the need for up and downstream pipe lengths and gives a plus or minus 3% when commissioning.
Earlier this year, BSS launched such a product - the BOSS Venturi balancing valve. This has provided significant benefits for consultants, contractors and commissioning engineers, enabling systems to be designed, installed and handed over without complications.
It was introduced to the range in partnership with Yorkshire Fittings. And it is this sort of relationship, together with the sharing of specialist knowledge within the industry, that will help to drive it forwards.
At around the same time, BSS launched a new TRV into the BOSS valve range, which is approved to EN215. This guarantees thermal and hydraulic performance. It has a two-way function which provides a reverse-flow capability and quiet operation, whatever the flow direction. The valves have a dual 15mm and half inch connection to suit both copper and iron pipework. This was a key product launch for BSS and a good example of the trend in today's valve market:
product development, comprehensive choice and the ability to provide the best solutions.
With this growing rate of change, comes the issue of how well the customer can keep up to date with the latest developments, know the best solutions for their requirements and, more importantly, current legislation.
The answer to this seems to lie with the manufacturer or supplier. Specifiers are becoming more and more reliant on them to help with the design work and valve selection.
And it is down to companies such as BSS to ensure information gets through. BSS needs to provide a constant stream of system and product information, and training.
During the next ten years, the market will undoubtedly be driven by the green issue - the need for more energy-efficient properties will create the requirement for more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. BSS is already working to address this with the variable volume valves.
On a more general theme, there is the growing issue of skilled worker shortages. This is creating a need for offsite fabrication, and the development of more modular valve and pipework - something the industry will see more and more of during the next few years.
There have been a great many changes in the valve market during the past ten years, and that is set to continue. Rates of change in the industry as a whole are accelerating fast.
And it is up to BSS to keep up with the opportunities out there, helping its customers to find the best possible solutions.
All BSS branches hold a comprehensive selection of the BOSS valve range in all popular types and sizes.
To find your nearest branch call 0116 262 3232 or visit www.bssuk.co.uk