Valvestock and Pipe Center report that sales of Conbraco’s Apollo ball valves have gone from strength to strength since the company was appointed a distribution partner just over a year ago.
Valvestock is now an authorised service centre for the Apollo range of industrial products, and holds significant stocks at its new facility in Fareham. Additional stocks are held centrally by Pipe Center, and at strategically located branches near industrial centres across the UK.
The company says the Apollo range has been very well received by existing and new customers, both in the UK and overseas. There has been particularly strong take-up among engineering contractors, skid builders and OEMs, who are using Apollo products on a regular basis as one of their preferred options for ANSI flanged ball valves.
A key area of application is within the power sector, where traditional three-piece and flanged Apollo valves are being selected due to their quality, availability and competitive price - backed by the manufacturer’s five-year guarantee.
One of the most important products in the range is the Apollo top entry ball valve, which is being widely adopted due to lack of availability of a suitable high quality alternative in the market.
It has several major benefits, according to Adrian Byrne, Apollo ball valve’s UK sales manager and partner to Valvestock/Pipe Center: “The first and most obvious advantage of using the Apollo top entry ball valve is the ease of in-line maintenance, which can dramatically reduce operational down-time and maintenance costs.
“The main bulk of the valve is in its body, and this remains in the pipeline for the duration of the valve’s life. The internals of the valve are accessed by removing the bonnet (Fig. 1) and entering through the top – hence the name ‘top entry’.
“This becomes extremely important with weighty, large bore valves, as the logistics involved in removing them from their line are extensive, costly and time-consuming.
“The second important benefit comes into play when rapid temperature changes occur within the piping system. Standard parallel-seated floating ball valves are simply not capable of dealing with this, as the seats have no room for movement.
“If a valve is in its closed position and the temperature increases very rapidly, the ball will be the first thing to expand. When this happens, the seats will extrude if soft (eg PTFE) and shatter if hard (eg carbon graphite). Both cases can result in catastrophic seat damage and an unserviceable valve.
“Alternatively, if a valve is in its closed position, and the temperature decreases very rapidly, then the ball will be the first thing to contract. When this happens, the ball and seats are no longer creating a tight seal, and through-leakage will result. In most cases, the ball will actually drop lower into the cavity, and when temperatures return to normal, the ball will become trapped and seat damage will again occur.
“The special “V” seating design of Apollo top entry ball valves (Fig 2) introduced the self-adjusting seat to the floating ball valve. This design does not rely on the built-in interference of conventional floating ball valves, as it provides automatic compensation for pressure, temperature and wear.
“As these changes occur, the ball and seats continuously move up and down into the “V”, resulting in positive leak-tight shutoff when using resilient seats.
“Before this innovation was introduced, maintaining a low pressure seal had been the most difficult condition for floating ball valves, whereas the wedge effect on the ball and seats down the “V” assures continued low pressure sealing for the life of the seat.
“All Apollo top entry ball valves have an “anti-static” feature as standard, and all valve configurations feature blow-out proof stems. Add to this the wide choice of end connections, pressure classes and body, trim, seat and seal materials and it offers a truly bespoke valve.”
Marcus Sampson, general manager of Valvestock, says: “The response to the Apollo range from customers has been enthusiastic and extremely pleasing. The range addresses a genuine need in the market with a quality product, backed by specialist servicing and technical support locally in the UK.”
He added: “We believe there is significant potential to expand the application of the range, particularly for the top entry ball valve, which offers so many clear benefits to the end user and service contractor.
“We will be working closely with our partners at Conbraco to support existing customers and introduce new customers to the Apollo range over the coming year.”