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> Innovative

Foam manufacturer
revamps problematic
process control system

A manufacturer of foam for the automobile industry, had several problems with their existing process control system.
First, a poorly designed and labor intensive piping system resulted in a large complex amalgamation of flow streams with a lack of basic controls over the process. As a result of the way the piping system was configured, too much air was being allowed to mingle with various chemicals used in the process, which caused unpredictable chemical reactions within the piping system. This resulted in inconsistent quality of the foam being produced and unnecessary waste.
The engineers had previous experience with Habonim valves and actuators, so they asked Habonim if they could suggest a better design for their process control system (Figure 1). Habonim designed a manifold set up consisting of a central block with four side ports, an inlet port and an outlet port on the other two faces. All of the dimensions matched the standard Habonim valve and end bolt pattern. This design allowed for the fitting of any standard Habonim valve without the need of welding while maintaining a rigid structure, and with as little dead volume as possible. To allow the central block to fit directly to the pump, a flanged reducer was fitted to the block and to the pump outlet. The block was designed so that the valve body could be affixed directly to the block side. The orifice of the central block was exactly the same size as the orifice of the valve port, and fitted directly to the valve body, eliminating a second end connector.
The tight configuration of the valve design meant that there was minimal extra volume of air in the stream. One block represented the possibility of mounting four valves. The block was also machined in such a way that the user would be able to stack a duplicate of the block to the top side so that, if the bottom block valves were positioned at 12-, 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock, an additional block mounted on top of the first block would be able to house four more additional valves. This concept could be repeated with additional blocks reverting back to the bottom valve positions. The entire manifold was at least five times smaller in height than the existing complex configuration, yet allowed for complete freedom to work on the valves if needed (Figure 2). The design allowed them to finely detail where the streams were destined for, and for additional streams to be added later. The problem of too much air getting into the process was eliminated due to the full porting of the block.
The foam was considerably more consistent and allowed for the elimination of the waste generated by the prior system. However, the greatest savings were in labor. The foam manufacturer was now able to order a manifold set-up to suit the number of flows in each process and have it shipped complete, eliminating the need to have labor intensive welding done as with the old system. All that was necessary now was to install the manifold on the incoming pipe.
The savings were not only in the amounts of money for labor and engineering, but also for installation. Additional savings were realized in the usage of less chemicals because of a lower internal manifold area and the reduction of waste foam caused by the previous air filtration reactions.
Similar manifold systems have since been installed at facilities throughout the world.