Pumps and Valves Q&A

What’s the best pump or valve for a dairy plant? The one a processor doesn’t even know is there.

Key suppliers of pumps and valves to the dairy industry say reliability and ease of maintenance to reduce downtime are high among the concerns of their customers, along with higher flow rates to move more product in less time. Plus, food safety always has been and continues to be a concern.

We reached out to several manufacturers of pumps and valves for their insight into current market conditions. Here are their responses:

DFR: What is driving the development of new pumps and valves for dairy processing?

Chad Hawkins, business development manager – pumps, Alfa Laval Inc., Kenosha, Wis.: The main processing driver is the tendency to process more product faster, which translates into a need for larger pumps. Specifically, customers are operating larger and larger plants and running 24 hours a day. This processing trend has evolved quickly over recent years.      

Jim Larsen, business development manager – valves, Alfa Laval Inc.: In general, it is the desire to achieve more production throughput. This is being done through the use of larger equipment capable of handling higher volumes per time period and equipment that requires less downtime (for cleaning) and therefore affords more production uptime. 

Bob Garner, engineering manager, Ampco Pumps Co., Glendale, Wis.: Ampco has noticed an increased request from customers for higher flows in the dairy industry.

Jim LeClair, regional product director, APV, an SPX Brand, Delavan, Wis.: There are four needs driving the development of pumps and valves for the dairy industry: cleanability, flexibility, availability and maintainability. Each of these are distinct needs within dairy processing since the drive to control cost and still maintain the stellar record of food safety within the sector is paramount with the current social and economic climate. Each one of these needs creates a specific design requirement that creates a challenge to the development personnel in an equipment manufacturer.

Patrik Denoth, chief executive officer, Aseptomag NA, Rockford, Ill.: Among the many key reasons for recent new valve developments is the redefining of regulations in the 2007 Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. With the possibility of producing a double-seat valve which, when properly designed and operated, could have product in one line and CIP solution in the other, the market opportunities for these valves in dairies changed in a dramatically positive way. 

All that previously unavoidable down time has now become positive production for the facility. In this economic climate the more time a dairy can be up and running, the less you have to worry about cost run-ups and a sense of losing ground, wasting time. The market for mix-proof valves and their development has come on in a big way.

Sam Raimond, senior sales engineer, Fristam Pumps USA, Middleton, Wis.: Our newest product lines have been developed based upon the need for increased capacities and pressures and making the pumps more maintenance-free.

Dave Medlar, president, GEA Tuchenhagen North America, Portland, Maine: Firstly, the need for processors to continually increase plant productivity and operational flexibility, all the while doing this in an environmentally conscious and sustainable manner. This latter requirement means that processors are now continually looking for ways to minimize the use of natural resources and the effect of waste materials on the environment.

Secondly, there is a growing trend towards aseptic or ESL products. These plants must be designed using valve and pump components that meet these stringent operational requirements.

Kellie Momchilovich, product marketing manager, process and sanitary equipment, Graco Inc., Minneapolis: Dairy manufacturers demand process equipment solutions that meet dairy standards’ requirements, have a low cost of ownership and allow for efficient sanitizing.

Bill Beard, market development manager, process industries, Grundfos Pump Corp., Olathe, Kan.: The best pump for a dairy products manufacturer is one they don’t even know is there. Reliability is foremost in the minds of plant managers and maintenance personnel because production downtime is very expensive, and in today’s tough economic times all manufacturers are looking to reduce waste and lower production costs. The processor is looking for a pump provider that can meet the demands of all their pumping applications.

Keith Van Note, general manager, INOXPA USA Inc.: High efficiency and hygienic certifications, according to the design and materials.

Bill Rice, manager-technical services, SPX Process Equipment, Delavan, Wis.: We have seen more requests for higher flow rates in order to maximize production capacities. Other drivers include equipment automation, cleanliness and product durability to reduce downtime.

Patrick Sibley, technical manager-valves, SPX Process Equipment: More plant consolidations and less floor space are driving the need for process components capable of handling higher flow rates and greater pressures. 

Jack Jordan, president, Südmo North America Inc., Rockford, Ill.: The main driver for valves and valve system developments is the user’s demands for increased plant flexibility and longer maintenance intervals for key equipment. Plants are also focusing on solutions that meet sustainability requirements in regard to reducing energy costs, effluent output and product losses.

DFR: How has the increased focus on food safety impacted development of these components?

Larsen: The increased focus has driven the need for equipment that can not only assure the hygienic integrity of the process system, but equipment that can be cleaned thoroughly and effectively in a minimal amount of time.

LeClair: The food safety implications for pumps and valves within the dairy sector have always been under the direct scrutiny of the PMO from the FDA. This has created standards that the equipment manufacturers have had to follow for generations.

Denoth: It’s no accident that we designated our double-seat mix-proof valve, the FS, for food safety. Modern facilities that utilize highly engineered valves and integrated automated CIP processes are putting quality control first. That quality is ultimately passed along to end user in the form of safe products. Consumers want to know that when they open a container of product, they are getting a high-quality product from a clean and safe source.

Raimond: One of the main design criteria for our entire product line is to assure that the pumps are easily cleanable and conform to all 3-A, USDA, FDA and BPE standards.

Medlar: The safety standards set by regulatory in the U.S. dairy industry is one of the highest, if not the highest in the world. For this reason, many flow components need to be designed uniquely for the U.S. dairy market. A very high-profile example of this would be the first 24/7 PMO Valve, introduced by GEA Tuchenhagen in 2007, which allows dairy plants to be operated in a fully automated and flexible manner, thereby increasing greatly plant productivity compared to more traditional manual plants, without compromising product safety.

Momchilovich: End users pumping dairy products such as low-viscosity cheeses, sour creams or yogurts need to ensure they are in compliance with 3-A standards. To address this need, Graco has developed a line of quick knock-down 3-A certified diaphragm pumps to efficiently move these materials. 

Beard: Our design philosophy, which we call Higenix, is a commitment to continually developing pumps that exceed industry standards like those from 3-A and EHEDG. Our centrifugal pumps are made of cold-rolled or forged stainless steel and electropolished to create a homogeneous and pore-free surface down to the molecular level. In addition, our unique construction includes dead-end free pump casings which maximize cleaning solution circulation and eliminates gaps that can trap bacteria in the seal area or around the casing. 

Rice: Our new products are more CIP-able; not only for benefits associated with food safety, but to help reduce the time and effort associated with CIP operations.

Sibley: There is certainly more engagement with regulatory agencies in the product development process. Our continuous process PMO valve had to satisfy cleaning requirements documented by the FDA’s pasteurized milk ordinance, for example.

Jordan: Valve technology is a key factor in ensuring product safety, and must be looked at as an integrated system.

DFR: What are your customers’ special needs for pumps and valves, and how are you addressing them?

Hawkins: Our diverse pump portfolio of centrifugal, positive displacement and liquid ring pumps are designed in a variety of configurations and materials to meet our customers’ special needs. With our vast distribution and manufacturing network, we’re able to modify our products to meet any customer’s special needs.  

Garner: Ampco has worked diligently to offer customers a cost advantage along with high-quality pumps and parts.

LeClair: The change in the regulations on double-seat valve usage has driven development to allow customers to use the double-seat valves in areas that have not been possible. Other special needs are driven by the incorporation of more ESL and UHT processing systems. We have driven our product developers due to our strong presence in this form of processing dairy products. Much of the time, we are already developing products to meet the special needs before it hits the market place due to our research and development in aseptic systems.

Denoth: Each individual customer has specific challenges and specific needs for their process and they need to know what we can do to help solve them. The key is developing and implementing the perfect tailored solution for a specific process.

Raimond: Reduce maintenance costs and downtime for repairs. Based on our customers’ needs and suggestions, we continually evaluate and update our product lines.

Medlar: Customers’ needs are for long and reliable service life, low and simple maintenance, available at a competitive cost. Our valve range is entirely modular allowing interchangeability of most parts between valve types; this holds great benefits for the end-user in terms of a reduction of his spare parts requirements and cost. Secondly, due to the high-tolerance sealing design aspect of our valves, incorporating a metal-to-metal sealing philosophy, gasket life is also greatly increased.

Momchilovich: Natural fillings and variegates are becoming more popular in ice cream and yogurt products. These natural fillings are difficult to pump without degrading the material. Graco’s line of high-sanitation pumps is addressing this market need.

Beard: The most common special requests we receive include high-pressure/low-flow applications, the need for extra-smooth surface finishes and cleaner sanitary pumps for viscous fluids. We produce single- and multi-stage sanitary centrifugal pumps well suited for a wide range of hydraulic conditions. All these pumps are offered with multiple electropolished surface finishes to meet even the most demanding specification.  For metering and viscous fluid applications, our new rotary lobe positive displacement pump, the NL, offers exceptional hygienic characteristics and several lobe options.

Van Note:  Our products are designed and targeted to hygienic certifications, such as the EHEDG certification for the new range of centrifugal pumps and the mix-proof valves.

Rice: Customers are requesting process components use less floor space, reduce maintenance costs and have operational safety features. One of our developments includes the Tru-Fit pump base for our Universal Series PD Pumps. This reduces floor space by up to 25% and eliminates the possibility of shaft misalignment. Horizontal base surfaces are also reduced, helping minimize areas for potential bacteria growth.

Sibley: Product dependability and extended service life have always ranked high on customer needs for process equipment. Our Waukesha Cherry-Burrell brand valves possess machined from solid bar valve bodies and modular design features that help contribute to lower MRO spending.

Jordan: Customers are requiring their valve supplier to bring them solutions for increasing plant flexibility, increasing maintenance intervals, reducing losses to the atmosphere, protecting products from cross contamination and making the process safe for employees. Norit Südmo’s aseptic and mix-proof technologies combined with our application know-how meet all of these requirements.

DFR: What product innovations has your company developed?

Larsen: We have introduced a complete portfolio of PMO compliant valves, called the Unique PMO Plus series, that enables processors to effectively clean (via CIP) and process at the same time through a single valve. This range of valves is designed to assure complete cleaning of all product contact surfaces without ever having to take the valve out of process. Additionally, the valves in this range require less cleaning fluid than any other valve on the market. The features provided by the Unique PMO Plus are completely retrofittable to existing installations of Unique PMO valves.

Garner: Ampco has designed the first significant improvement to the cost effective sanitary C Series centrifugal pumps. Our C+ pumps offer an improved shaft design comparable to more expensive sanitary pumps. Ampco now offers a high-quality front-loading seal design in our LF Series. We’ve also recently introduced our ZL positive displacement pumps and shear blenders.

LeClair: We have been able to use our W+ Centrifugal Pump and provide the market with a vast array of pump options that range from a standard centrifugal pump to a self-priming pump that uses standard seals and out performs traditional liquid ring pumps. We have 3-A-approved aseptic valves that use an innovative support system that allows the use of elastomeric diaphragms without the hassle of a metal bellows.

Denoth: We offer many specialized valve designs to allow automation of aseptic product production. The modular concept of our valves allows for integration into myriad applications. 

Our FS mix-proof valve has several innovations including easy seat seal replacements.  One of the best features is our method of valve position sensing. We have our Aseptop enclosed feedback unit, which features all valve position detection units within the control top. This feature removes the need for, and hassle of, external position sensors that can be damaged by external impacts or simply being moved out of their correct positions.

Raimond: We have developed a line of shear products and have CIP-able PD pumps, which are rated for up to 500 psi.

Medlar: GEA Tuchenhagen will shortly release the first 24/7 PMO tank valve, which will greatly reduce the complexity of piping design around vessels. This new valve is also completely drainable when mounted in the horizontal direction, allowing plant designers increased flexibility in piping design. In addition, the new Stericom LongLife range of aseptic bellow valves, with shutoff and modulating function, have a unique bellow design. Longer service life and reliability have been proven to be superior compared to diaphragm-type valve designs.

Momchilovich: Graco has a line of 3-A certified diaphragm pumps with leak detection and over-molded diaphragms for easy cleaning (great for pumping low-viscosity cheese, sour creams and yogurts). This is in addition to a high-sanitation diaphragm pump line (for fillings and variegates). Graco also has a complete 55-gallon drum and 300-gallon bin unloader line. These unloaders house either piston or diaphragm pumps used to move materials from low to high viscosity. The unloaders have an inflatable wiper for tight seals to prevent airborne particles from entering into the process.

Beard: Our standard-duty model FB sanitary centrifugal pump brings a new level of hygiene to the U.S. market. To help our customers reduce energy consumption and save money, we have also recently introduced the Grundfos CUE, a wall- or panel-mounted variable-frequency controller that takes the headaches out of applying variable speed drives and gives you full control of your pump at all times. Also, new this year is our NL sanitary rotary lobe positive displacement pump. This versatile and unique design promises to set a new standard for rotary lobe pump hygiene while simplifying maintenance.

Van Note: The HLR hygienic lobe rotor pump, EHEDG 3-A certified diaphragm valve range and in-line product recovery systems.

Rice: In addition to the Tru-Fit base and increased sizes capable of handling higher pressures, we have modified our centrifugal pump line to include stainless-steel adaptors as a standard offering to prevent corrosion.

Sibley: The Continuous Process PMO valve allows dairies to significantly reduce downtime associated with process line cleaning between runs. We have also developed valves to accommodate higher-particulate products.

Jordan: Norit Südmo leads the field in developing mix-proof technology for the dairy industry and brings the highest efficiency to our customers. We have also been very innovative in developing more reliable elastomers and other key components to ensure longer maintenance intervals.

DFR: What’s the “next big thing” in pumps and valves?

LeClair: The drive to longer shelf-life products and maximizing the availability plus flexibility of process equipment. We could start seeing pumps that do not have traditional seals, can be used for multiple products within the same process line and have the ability to provide feedback to the central control system on service life. Plus, we’ll see an expansion of the feedback to the central control systems.

Denoth: The wider deployment of aseptic technology in the North American market. In this new era of environmental awareness and the growing focus on sustainability, we believe that ESL and aseptic processes will be seen as the way to move forward.

Medlar: Valves that have increased self-diagnostic features available for the end-user, thereby ensuring more efficient, productive and lower-cost maintenance requirements. In addition, valves designed with features that can minimize the use of water and cleaning chemicals, while still being fully cleanable.

Beard: It will probably include continued improvements around energy efficiency, reliability and hygiene. Advanced products will come, but the challenge will be to get them adopted by world standards organizations like 3-A and EHEDG. It will be critical for these organizations to modify their specifications to allow for new designs that can prove themselves to be hygienically safe.

Van Note: A new range of hygienic products, EHEDG 3-A HCP centrifugal pumps, single- and double-seat valves, more compact valve control units.

Jordan: Norit Südmo is launching the first true aseptic mix-proof valve system that gives aseptic processors the flexibility already enjoyed by the rest of the dairy industry. System maintenance intervals are increased four to five times with this design when compared to traditional aseptic designs.


Alfa Laval Inc.    www.alfalaval.us
Ampco Pumps Co.    www.ampcopumps.com
APV, an SPX Brand    www.apv.com
Aseptomag NA    www.aseptomag.us
Fristam Pumps USA    www.fristam.de
GEA Tuchenhagen North America    www.tuchenhagen.us
Graco Inc.    www.graco.com
Grundfos Pump Corp. USA    www.grundfos.com
INOXPA USA Inc.    www.inoxpa.com
SPX Process Equipment    www.spx.com
Südmo North America Inc.    www.sudmona.com