Flow Control: What to Look for in a Technology Partner

Flow Control: What to Look for in a Technology Partner

Posted: March 9, 2023

At a time when inflation is consuming a larger part of capital budgets, companies are looking for ways to improve their efficiencies to drive down operating costs. For those who utilize valves in their operations, keeping up with the newest flow control technology offers an easy way to drive down operational costs associated with downtime and reliability. The latest generation of flow control devices is designed to exceed industry requirements and employ modern materials devised specifically to combat highly corrosive and/or erosive environments.

With today’s constant technological innovation, the best way to keep current is to pair with a dedicated technology partner known for their flow control expertise. Collaborating with a capable partner can help you achieve your business' performance targets. Moreover, you avoid the high intrinsic cost of using inferior products in atypical operational environments.

But how do you identify a reputable partner? Adherence to maintenance standards and certifications, use of checklists and other audit practices, high-quality production, product customization, reputation of delivering highly reliable leading-edge flow control solutions, fast delivery—these are all attributes to look for. Look for a partner who can, at minimum, support all these needs—like Gilmore. For over six decades, Gilmore has developed technologies to deliver reliable, severe-service flow control solutions across multiple high-cost-of-failure energy markets. Quite simply, we’re a name you can trust.

Let’s look at what standards you should keep in mind when assessing the best technology partner for your business. Considering how long we’ve been in the business, we’d know.

Two techs reviewing components
Flow control assets are essential to drilling rigs, which necessitates thorough vetting for potential technology partners. | Source: Shutterstock

Why Is Selecting the Right Flow Control Partner So Important?

Across multiple industries where fluids are part of the process, service providers and operators need to manage flow, pressure, temperature, chemical compatibility, erosive media, and other process variables to keep production active. Effective flow control is thus necessary for profitability; it also contributes to employee safety and environmental safeguards.

The quality of your flow control components directly affects your outcomes. Working with a technology partner gives you access to products that can better endure process and environmental conditions and provide greater up-time performance.

A proven technology partner will understand which materials best handle pressure, corrosion, erosion, and resist leaking, incorporating information from years of working with others in your market and in applications similar to your challenges. Furthermore, they’ll cover the complete product life cycle—from product conception through qualification, detailed design, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and end of life. The right flow control partners will have an aftermarket service and spares stocking program that ensures OEM-certified craftsmanship and spares availability post-initial acquisition; they will also consider backward compatibility when implementing product improvements. This enables consultation on design enhancements done after the time of purchase, and the option to upgrade your flow control assets at a lower cost.

Of course, very few providers can live up to these exacting demands and qualify as your trusted technology partner. That's why it’s so important to do your due diligence and consider partnering with a proven expert like Gilmore.

Gilmore offers turnkey manufacturing services on flow control products with CNC lathes, mills, and finishing processes, delivering the highest quality precision flow control products. We’re with you all the way, maintaining and repairing flow control valves with field service support. Our flow control systems are designed for the most extreme environments. They’ll perform safely and reliably—as service providers, operators, and regulators demand.

Our data-driven designs undergo extensive testing to verify their toughness; for example, the newest models of products designed specifically for the offshore drilling market have been qualified to align their life with the industry requirements of BOP stack five-year recertification cycles. They’re easy to install and maintain, and include safety features to ensure dependable operational performance.

We’ve taken a similar approach with the design and qualification of our new Agiliti™ product line for pressure pumping. We adapted legacy Gilmore valves and 25-year life expectancy subsea production hardware technologies to develop relief and check valves with a meantime between failure of up to 13 times greater than other products in the market.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Next Flow Control Technology Partner

When looking for a flow control technology partner, it’s important to work with someone who understands your business’ unique needs. This sounds like common sense; however, many large companies simply produce a static set of products, regardless of whether they suit your situation. You shouldn’t have to bend your business around the products—they should work for you instead and be customizable.

In contrast to those more inflexible producers, Gilmore delivers products and service tailored for your specific requirements. A good tech partner prioritizes client specifications in meeting the demands of any in-service system (in addition to those under development). It’s a collaborative relationship—or should be.

Over the coming decade, Gilmore’s current primary markets will continue pushing the limits of flow control solutions, demanding more innovation. For example, oil and gas drilling will dive to ever greater depths, putting more pressure on flow control equipment. Pressure pumpers and operators in the fractured completion market will demand greater up-time and longer run times between maintenance cycles. Flow control customers like these shouldn’t go into these battles alone; rather, they should identify and work with an innovative ally.

Let’s take a closer look at the basic standards that ally should meet for your business.

1. Follows Maintenance Practices and Standards

Flow control is crucial to many cross-industry operations since it grants safe and reliable productivity of operating assets and production. However, this only holds when flow control assets are well maintained. Poor maintenance, on the other hand, adds to the risk of downtime—and can sink a project or profitability in operations. Flow control customers that experience accidents due to unmaintained equipment may also expose themselves to costly fines and litigation.

But maintaining flow control products can be costly and interferes with operational standards. It’s of the utmost importance, then, that your tech partner produces parts which are easy to maintain. They should also be able to service these parts to the strictest standards whenever needed.

Vet your technology partner carefully for maintenance practices and standards. A competent supplier like Gilmore uses the most demanding methods to manufacture and service flow control components.

Even a slight period of downtime adds serious risk, so parts need to work consistently over long periods of time. This means your provider must also offer full asset life cycle maintenance. Servicing the valves to factory level, as Gilmore does, ensures their ongoing availability at any time.

Maintenance plans should also cover replacements after parts conclude their expected service lives. Predictive maintenance—incorporating replacement into regular maintenance programming—is far less costly than reacting to unexpected failures. Gilmore’s aftermarket maintenance and repair services keep control valves in top condition to keep operations flowing. Our expert staff will identify any problems and restore the parts to factory standards—you’ll even receive a new warranty.

2. Complies with Relevant Certifications and Industry-Standard Requirements

Certifications tell you that a vendor has passed third-party verification, indicating their reliability in delivering repeatable product or service performance. Any business can provide a few laudatory statements—but certification shows that they have the know-how to back up those statements.

These certifications and industry standards develop from years of experience, steering manufacturers towards practices known to perform well. Trustworthy technology partners will implement these features into their products and procedures.

Gilmore not only possesses these expected certifications but also leads the way in improving safety, reliability, and performance of our customers’ (and their customers’) operating assets. For example, Gilmore worked with the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) on a recommended practice for blowout preventer control valve qualification. Gilmore also works with industry groups, drilling contractors, pressure pumpers, operators, and government bodies to further enhance safety.

In addition to safety, a reputable technology partner like Gilmore focuses on responsible actions for the health of people and the environment. Careful product designs help prevent accidents and disasters. A good flow control technology partner should go beyond complying with standards and requirements to set the pace for safety and responsibility.

Gilmore exceeds or meets various widely recognized standards including ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, and ISO 45001. These assure the technology provider manufactures valves and regulators according to strict requirements pertaining to safety, quality, and the environment.

But that’s not all: Gilmore also goes even further with the API Spec Q1 Certification. This highly regarded certification shows the organization's risk-based approach to quality management. Each item undergoes a comprehensive process in which inputs and outputs are documented, communicated, implemented, and verified to improve production for customers.

Q1 API Spec Registered
Gilmore’s API Spec Q1 Certification

3. Employs Inspection Checklists

A trusted technology partner should thoroughly test their products. For example, Gilmore ensures their products not only meet but exceed end-market requirements. For example, Gilmore’s extreme qualification testing ensures a five-year product service life (under normal operating conditions) for offshore drilling BOP control system customers. And while current industry API/ISO standards necessitate testing only a single valve, Gilmore tests multiple valves a minimum of two times that of the industry standard. This practice provides concrete evidence of the actual reliability and durability that separates the best from the competition.

flow control inspection checklist
Flow control technology partners should conduct regular inspection checklists to ensure all products pass current market standards. | Source: Shutterstock

4. Offers High-Quality Parts Using Innovative Technology

Our customers (and their customers) depend on rugged parts to keep operations flowing where they should. Well-made parts function smoothly for years, while poorly made parts fail. There’s no substitute for quality. When maintenance is expensive and difficult, reliable performance must be the standard, not the exception—so you need high-quality parts you can trust.

Gilmore makes exceptional flow control products designed specifically for our customers’ applications. From the choice of materials to the manufacturing and inspection of each valve, no detail is overlooked. These parts can withstand thousands of PSI in pressure and a high rate of cycling—so you know they’re up to the job.

Gilmore’s line of control valves uses soft-sealing and shear-sealing technologies. These products incorporate specialty materials to produce a trustworthy and long-lasting reliable seal. The materials are engineered to perform even under the toughest conditions.

Don’t settle for the uncertainty and risk of poorly made products. Go with an established technology partner that only sells quality products verified through a best-in-class quality system and extensive product qualification standard.

5. Provides Custom Product Development Process

Most vendors only provide a standard, static set of parts. While this can be helpful if your operations already use these parts, as we’ve said earlier, you shouldn’t have to build your business to cater to the tools you use. Thus, the best technology partner is one who will customize pieces precisely for your needs.

With over 60 years in business, Gilmore manufactures custom parts for any use case. We understand the varied demands placed on players in the energy market. From machining and finishing to assembly and testing, the outcome is a professional-grade part fit for service.

Sophisticated lathes and mills handle a range of metals, and rapid turnaround ensures you have parts right when you need them. The same high-quality lapping and passivation we champion in our standard parts apply to your custom parts, ensuring they’ll work under any conditions.

Reliability is key to successful operations. Each part, whether custom-made or standard, undergoes testing in conditions as tough as they’ll face in operation—so you know the valves will stand up to the pressure in corrosive or erosive applications.

But the work isn’t done once a part is made. A respectable technology partner will also offer aftermarket services to keep your products running throughout the life cycle. Stable performance minimizes costs and risks, so it’s as important as the initial product quality. Gilmore’s factory-trained staff offer safe and reliable rebuilds to keep your operations flowing.

As with standard parts manufacturing, Gilmore’s custom product development adheres to multiple international standards for quality, health and safety, and environmental protection. Whether you are drilling a new well, completing a well through fractured pressure pumping services, or simply operating your producing assets there is no time to take irresponsible risks. It’s important to select a tech partner who can stand behind your operations and their products.

Best Practices: Building Relationships with Technology Partners

Finding the right technology partner is about more than just the technical qualifications. It’s also about building a lasting business relationship in which your needs are consistently met. With drilling contractors, pressure pumping service providers and operators facing new challenges and opportunities, it’s critical to get a technology partner who gets you.

Certain best practices can contribute to a close relationship between users and their technology partners. For instance, your vendor should have no problem keeping up with modern technology, since they should continuously be innovating methods to streamline maintenance and improve productivity.

Nowadays automation is also essential for optimized workflow. If your potential partner hasn’t shifted into the digital era, employing automated approaches to expedite service, that’s a sign that they may not have the capability to keep up. After all, you want solutions that are at the cutting edge of the industry—so you need a partner who is too.

The basic technology behind valves has remained somewhat stable over recent years, but automation in the design, manufacture, maintenance, and operation of these flow control devices is dramatically improving their performance. Digital systems increase the accuracy and speed over previous techniques. This results in safer flow control valves, while also making them more energy-efficient and ensuring they perform in line with production demands. The valves remain in better health and reduce maintenance needs and maintenance cycle times.

Along with innovation, your technology partner should remain on top of regulatory compliance. You can best track this by assessing that they have the most up-to-date certifications. A compliant partner aligns teams with the relevant rules and standards. All employees are encouraged to contribute to the safety, quality, health, and environmental requirements.

Your technology partner should also have the agility to customize parts to meet your specifications in a timely manner with effective communications. They’ll ideally collaborate with you throughout each stage of the project, from before design until after product development.

Keep Your Operations Running with Gilmore, the Leading Flow Control Technology Partner

Gilmore is the global leader in designing and manufacturing flow control solutions where there is a high cost of failure, and the operating environments are the world's harshest. For over half a century we’ve served industry with a focus on drilling, downhole, production, completions, and operations, providing highly adaptable solutions that can survive even the most challenging environments.

In any operating environment unexpected interruption can be disastrous—so it's critical to work with a top-tier partner to mitigate risk. A time-tested solution provider like Gilmore will enhance your productivity and safety, providing parts that stand the wear and tear of the job and provide the greatest up-time performance in the market.

Our engineering experts work side-by-side with our customers to create and maintain flow control systems. Full inspection and testing ensure the reliability of parts; the highest standards of precision throughout the manufacturing process will keep your valves operating flawlessly for years.

When you’re ready to go with the best, go with Gilmore. Make an inquiry on our contact form or give us a call—we’re ready to deliver best in class solutions and service for all your critical operations today.

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