Meet Alecia Robinson

Posted by Katie Reid on Thu, Dec 07, 2017 @ 10:12 AM

She makes sure our customers can easily find us in a variety of places


Mustard seed 2017.jpg

Robinson, pictured fourth from the left above, described the Mustard Seed event as one of the highlights of this year.


Usually you'll see Alecia Robinson's name in the byline on these posts, but today we're turning the tables to put her in the spotlight.

She's our Marketing and Communications Specialist, the person who manages our presence online and our internal communication with associates in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Drayton Valley. When you attend one of our events or visit our booth at a trade show, you see even more that Robinson helped create.

There's a lot to the job. Many people will see this post on our blog, for instance, but others will read it on LinkedIn or Facebook. We try to be wherever our customers and prospective customers feel the most comfortable meeting us. If you follow us on Twitter, you can connect with us there too.

And don't forget our brick-and-mortar office. We like it when people stop by in person.

Quick start

Robinson was working as a project manager for an industrial supply company in Edmonton last year when she heard that Edmonton Valve needed to fill a position. She went through a lengthy interview process, as all applicants do, because we want people who fit in well and will stick around.

"One of the questions I asked during an interview was what the turnover rate with the company was. And the average length of service at Edmonton Valve was around 20 years," Robinson says. "That was a pretty attractive answer to hear.”

We also like to take our time bringing people on board, often having new arrivals pick parts in the warehouse for a while so that they can get familiar with our inventory. But this time we had a deadline to deal with that was beyond our control: Robinson was going to take over the job from Katie Reid, who was about to go on maternity leave.

"When I got in, Katie only had a week left," Robinson says. Fortunately, it was nearly Christmas and business had slowed down enough that she could shadow a few people and get familiar with our operation.

She fit in quickly, getting involved with our Community Involvement group and participating in events such as our recent volunteer shift at the Mustard Seed in Edmonton, cooking, serving meals for 247 people and cleaning up.

"It was a rewarding experience," Robinson says. "It's nice that we are able to give back."

Always learning

As she nears the one year mark with Edmonton Valve & Fitting, Robinson has learned a lot along the way, including a new role.

After relocating to Fort McMurray branch in July she has added the role of customer service representative to her title. "Between the two roles I am learning something new every day." Robinson says.


Additional resources


In a hurry or have a question? Please click here to get in touch - we respond fast! Or call 780.437.0640.


 

Topics: People

Emerging Associates Stretch Beyond The Basic Job

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 @ 15:11 PM

Program offers a chance for newer and younger associates to explore and grow


Emerging associate summit.jpg

During this emerging associate meeting our group of associates participated in a few team building exercises, including the one above where we had to work as a team to untangle this cluster of hands.


While there can be a lot of satisfaction in a job well done, many people delight in a chance to stretch a little and acquire fresh skills in new areas. Our company president, Keith Johns, saw such a program in action a few years ago while visiting Swagelok headquarters. He wanted to give the associates at Edmonton Valve & Fitting a chance to participate in something similar. And so we started our Emerging Associates program with about a dozen people.

The Emerging Associates program has two main components. One subgroup focuses on the social side of our business, finding ways for our associates to start conversations with others at Edmonton Valve outside their normal day-to-day contacts. For instance, the group gathered on a Saturday earlier this year for some team building exercises. It was a fun way to improve our performance as a group and to help associates improve themselves as individuals.

The other subgroup focuses on community engagement by taking on some charity projects. So, for instance, we got involved in a blood drive as part of the annual Edmonton Corporate Challenge. We had an evening of slow pitch with a barbecue afterward. And we've participated in some obstacle course races.

There can be some crossover as well. The charity projects draw participation from associates throughout the company, including those in the social subgroup.

A free hand

The details of the subgroups' operation are up to the associates. They come up with an annual plan for the group. Human Resources manager Ben Grant and a couple of other managers help them get the necessary internal approvals and figure out where funds will come from.

While we try to keep things casual. Primarily an associate has to be interested in improving some aspect of our business. We typically ask for at least a one-year commitment from each associate in the group. We want to foster the chemistry and bonding that comes from tackling a project with the same people over time.

Now we're getting ready to refresh the program by having some associates "graduate" and bringing some others aboard. Since we have only about 65 associates at Edmonton Valve, we prefer to keep the Emerging Associates group at its current size, while maintaining a good cross-section of disciplines.

A strong, cohesive group of associates helps us do our jobs better, which means giving better service to our customers.


Additional resources


In a hurry or have a question? Please click here to get in touch - we respond fast! Or call 780.437.0640.


 

Topics: People

Small Bore Tubing Has Big Advantages Over Piping

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Wed, Nov 22, 2017 @ 08:11 AM

It's light, it bends, it creates a smooth flow path, and the installed cost is lower


tubing vs pipe.png

Threaded connection points are the most vulnerable areas to leakage in a fluid distribution system so why not reduce the number of threaded connections and switch your pipe system to tube.

Tubing Data PDF


Let's bust a myth about small-bore tubing. Too many people still think it's more expensive than pipe. That might be true if all you did was buy the tubing and leave it in a pile on the floor. But whether you buy pipe or tubing, you still have to install it. That's where tubing makes up the cost difference, and then some.

If you are welding pipe, you'll need a hot-work permit, plus a welding expert who will cost you about $100 to $150 per hour. A regular tube fitter can assemble small-bore tubing with only a half-day of training. And we offer the training as well as the tubing.

If you are installing pipe with threaded fittings, someone still needs to cut all the threads. With tubing, assembly is quick and easy. By the way, the reason pipe walls are so thick is not to hold more pressure, but so that material can be cut away to make the threads. The fact is, tubing has a much higher ratio of strength to weight than pipe does.

Extra advantages

Your piping design options will be restricted by the limitations of pipe. Pipe has to make a straight run from one connection to the next, whereas tubing can be bent. The bending means you can change direction without having to add a series of fittings. That means fewer potential leak points, and a smoother flow path than you would get with the sharp angles of piping.

Aesthetically, tubing looks a lot nicer too.

When it comes to weight, tubing is the obvious choice over pipe. That's important not only for the weight of the fluid system in place, but also for shipping. If you are an OEM and building an assembly, more weight means higher shipping costs.

Tools and training

Despite the name, small bore tubing is small only in comparison to the pipe it replaces. It's actually larger than most tubing, and includes anything from 3/4 inch on up. That means it requires special tools and training. But don't worry: Edmonton Valve & Fitting provides both. You don't even have to buy the tools, because we rent them.

Over the years, we've seen demand increase for our hydraulic swaging units and tube benders, which tells us that more companies are realizing to the advantages of tubing

Will small-bore tubing really save money compared to piping? We have a cost calculator that can show you. Call us at 780-437-0640 or contact us through our website, and then tell us the lengths of pipe you need, how many fittings, and other details of your project. We we can come up with an estimated cost comparison if you use small bore tubing instead.  


Additional resources


 

Topics: Cost Savings, Tubing

Calipers, Combs, And Guides Help Make Sense of Threads

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Thu, Nov 09, 2017 @ 12:11 PM

Scratching your head about threads? We have three tools that solve the mystery

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  The Pipe and Tube Sizes board (pictured above) is at our back counter. Bring in your fittings and we can help determine the sizing.
  thread_tool.png
  The thread pitch gauge is another tool we use to help with thread size - it's even available for purchase! To get more info on sizing, download the Thread and End Connection ID Guide PDF.

Can you tell the thread size and thread pitch on a component just by looking at it? Neither can we. That's why we have tools that eliminate the guesswork.

When you look at a thread, you'll see peaks (called crests) and valleys (called roots). The part in between the crest and the root is called the flank. The first thing you want to find out is whether the crests are all the same diameter. That would mean you have straight threads. So we get out our calipers and measure the first, fourth and last crests. If the measurements are the same, you have straight threads. If you get three different measurements, you have tapered threads.

There's another way to tell, provided that you are working with Swagelok parts. Other than standard NPT, Swagelok fittings are uniquely marked to indicate ISO tapered or ISO parallel threads.

Some people are surprised to learn that straight threads are not designed to seal on their own. They require a gasket, O-ring or some kind of metal-to-metal contact to finish the job.

Tapered threads are designed to seal as the mating threads are drawn together. In addition, some kind of sealant is necessary to prevent leaks. That's usually PTFE tape or a product such as SWAK.

Here comes the "pitch"

Next you need to know how close together the crests are. That's the pitch, usually expressed as the number of threads per inch.

Straight threads come in three standard kinds of measurements. The most common are SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), ISO 228/1 (also known as British Standard Pipe Parallel), and metric. Tapered threads also have several standard forms of measurement: NPT (National Pipe Thread), ISO 7/1 (also known as British Standard Pipe), and metric.

The flanks can come in different angles, known as Whitworth, unified, or metric.

To discover the pitch, we use a thread comb, also known as a pitch gauge. It looks a bit like a pocketknife, but the blades have saw-tooth edges that fit into the thread roots. We simply try different blades until we find an exact match. Some fractional and metric thread forms are very similar, so we take the time to make sure it's a true fit.

You also can turn to the Swagelok Thread and End Connection Identification Guide, which you can download for free. It has all the terminology, thread ID reference tables, and step-by-step instructions for identifying threads.

Lastly, Edmonton Valve & Fitting has a board with various sizes of threads. If you come in with a part, we can see which sample it fits.

Obviously, the threads on two parts have to have the same size and type of threads if you want to connect them. But you don't have to guess. Check in with Edmonton Valve & Fitting and we'll work with you to get the right answer. Give us a call at 780.437.0640 or get in touch below.

GET IN TOUCH

 

Topics: Valves, Fittings, Measurement Devices

Small Hole Creates A Big Advantage For Flush Systems

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 13:11 PM

Special Swagelok flange adapter with pre-drilled orifice simplifies design


Flange.Adapters.jpg

Threaded connections can be problematic when dealing with rotating equipment. Swagelok offers orifice flanges to reduce the number of threaded connections within your flush systems. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

GET IN TOUCH


Sometimes a small modification can make a big difference in a fluid system component. Take, for instance, Swagelok's flange adapters. We've written about them before, explaining how they provide a threadless, weldless transition from flanged pipe to tubing.

We have a special flange adapter made with flush systems in mind. For our customers with rotating equipment, we offer the Swagelok orifice union and orifice flange adapters. Because the orifice is pre-drilled into the flange, between the tube fitting and the flange itself, you get a unique solution that helps reduce the number of threaded connections in your flush systems. You no longer need to worry about threaded adapters leaking due to vibration or freeze-thaw cycles. You'll also save money by not having to weld the flange.

As with all our flange adapters, they reduce both the number of connections and the overall weight.

Typically the orifice is drilled out to 1/8 inch, but we can supply custom sizes too.

If you are already using flanges to simplify your system design, reduce weight and end up with fewer leak points, you already understand the value of these flange adapters for flush systems in rotary equipment. If you haven't yet made the switch to flange adapters, we can help you get started. All it takes is a call to 780-437-0640, or you can contact us through our website.


Additional resources


 

Topics: Tubing, Fittings

What Are Swagelok's PFA Fittings All About?

Posted by Adam Telenko on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 @ 09:10 AM


PFA 1.jpgpfa 2.jpg

We have a full line of PFA fittings, valves, and tubing, to get your copy of these catalogues download them below.

PFA Catalogues


Swagelok carries a variety of materials for our fittings and tubing so selecting the correct one for the job can be daunting. We discussed some of the options in our blog on special alloys earlier this year but today we will further explore our PFA line of tubing and fittings.

PFA, or Perfluoroalkoxy, is a type of fluoropolymer. It has very similar properties as the more common polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) – also called Teflon.

PFA is generally used for plastic lab equipment because of its optical transparency, overall flexibility, and extreme resistance to chemical attack. PFA is also often used as tubing for handling critical or highly corrosive processes.

What to consider

You can use Teflon or metal fittings with Swagelok PFA tubing. Just remember using PFA fittings with PFA tubing you need to use a Swagelok groove cutting tool to 'groove' the tubing and achieve higher working pressures.

Some other important things to consider when selecting PFA tubing and fittings are the following:
  • An audible ‘click’ sound ensures tubing is properly inserted
  • 316 SS fittings can be used with PFA tubing
  • PFA Plug and Needle valves are available 

How to order

PFA part numbers are slightly different than Swagelok’s common tube fittings, for example:

  • PFA-420-1-4 for a 1/4" male connector
  • PFA-820-6 for a 1/2” tube union

But don't worry about memorizing part numbers, give your local Swagelok experts a call and we will be glad to help out.


Additional resources


In a hurry or have a question? Please click here to get in touch - we respond fast! Or call 780.437.0640.


 

Topics: Tubing, Valves, Hoses, Fittings

How Swagelok Is Helping Advances In High-Speed Rail

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 09:10 AM

University students in Munich rely on Swagelok in worldwide competition.


WARR Hyperloop.jpg

Swagelok fittings were a key component for the braking system on the WARR Hyperloop pod during the Hypeloop Pod Competition put on by SpaceX. Watch this short video to learn more.


Elon Musk is famous for two very different kinds of transportation: the Tesla electric car and the reusable rockets of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX. Now Musk is hoping to develop yet another transportation idea. This time it's a high-speed train that could cover more than 300 miles in less than 30 minutes. It's called the Hyperloop.

Unlike traditional rail transportation, the Hyperloop runs inside a tube with very low air pressure. The system is designed to move "pods" of people and cargo at close to the speed of sound while using very little energy.

The concept is still in the experimental stage, but already Swagelok parts are playing a role.

Competition

To give his idea a jump-start, Musk set up a competition involving teams of university students. Swagelok has sponsored a team of 30 students from the Technical University of Munich that has advanced to the finals. The team is part of a larger organization called the Scientific Workgroup for Rocketry and Spaceflight, whose German initials are WARR. Their design includes a compressor to suck the air from in front of the pod and stream it out the back, reducing the air resistance to zero.

You can watch the team at work in a five-minute video from Swagelok.

The Hyperloop competition gives students a chance to learn in a way that a regular academic course never could. Designing and assembling the pod takes them beyond classroom theory by getting their hands on the components. They have to take care of real-world details such as leaving enough room for each component, and other aspects of a project that aren't likely to come up until you actually start building it. The work also brings together computer science, mechanical engineering and civil engineering students from several countries. The students say they like Swagelok not only for the quality and reliability of the parts, but for the availability of technical help.

Safe and reliable

The students are using Swagelok parts in the braking system. At such high traveling speeds, there can't be any question about whether the brakes will activate safely when needed.

If the Munich team wins the competition, their work could end up having an affect on the transportation that people take every day. Maybe your next project won't change the world, but that doesn't make it any less important to you. Rely on the same high quality and expertise that the Munich students are using to move their project forward. Call us at 780-437-0640 or contact us through our website.


Additional resources

Topics: Value Added Services, local expert

Forget Trial And Error; Take Our Tube Bending Course

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 @ 15:10 PM

Acquire the skills that will save time, save money and increase system efficiency


TubeBending.jpg

Edmonton Valve has been offering a variety of courses over the years, from teaching about fitting installation to improving sampling system performance, we've got you covered. Download our free training catalogue today and find a training class to suit your teams development.

Training & Education


What do valves, fittings, gauges and most other Swagelok components have in common? They need tubing in order to be of any use in a fluid system. Without tubing, all you'd have is a pile of parts.

It's vital, then, to understand how to handle tubing, plan a route for it, cut the correct length of tubing and bend it accurately.

There's not need to learn by trial and error. There's no need to wonder if your co-workers are passing along any bad habits if you rely on them to show you want to do. Rely instead on Edmonton Valve & Fitting. Our four-hour Tube Bending Essentials class on tube bending will show you what you need to know. With guidance from a certified expert, you'll learn how to consistently make optimal tube bends, and do the work efficiently.

What we cover

We start at the beginning: How to handle tubing without damaging it. We'll show you how to properly cut and debur the tubing as well as how to bend it. You'll learn how to calculate the length of tubing you need to get from Point A to Point B. That's especially important when you are using expansion loops and offsets, which we'll also cover.

Good craftsmanship not only saves money by reducing the amount of expensive scrap, it also improves fluid system performance.

The course has hand-on exercises as well as classroom instruction, so you'll be able to practice what you just learned. 

Who should attend

Anyone who has to install tubing can benefit from this course: fabricators, contractors and technicians. But it's also valuable knowledge for people who design fluid systems: engineers and draftsmen. Anyone responsible for inspecting or maintaining a fluid system also needs to know if the job was done right: quality control personnel and safety engineers.

Tube Bending Essentials is only one of many classes that we offer. You can contact us through the linked page to sign up for the next class in our new training center, or we can bring the class to your location. If you prefer to talk with a live person, we're at 780-437-0640.


Additional resources

Topics: Training, Value Added Services, local expert, Tubing

Meet Mike Taylor

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Wed, Oct 04, 2017 @ 10:10 AM

His earlier career with a puck helped break the ice with our customers


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You've probably seen Mike Taylor's name on the blog before and now you get to find out about the man himself.


Job titles don't always give a complete picture of what a person does. Take Mike Taylor, who is officially one of our account managers in sales and service. Most of the time he manages accounts for valves and fittings, but he also wears a few other hats.

For instance, we've flown him all over North America to conduct energy audits for clients. He's been trained on hose advisory services, too. In fact he's done a variety of jobs in his 16 years with Edmonton Valve.

Like most of our staff, Taylor started in the warehouse picking parts for orders and getting familiar with our inventory. Then he helped us start our mobile inventory management service. Taylor was in charge of building the routes and schedules. After managing mobile inventory for a while, he moved over to customer service for a few years.

A sales territory opened up when longtime associate Jim Begg moved over to the training side of the business, and Taylor move into Begg's old job.

"I don't call him Jim; I always call him Mr. Begg," Taylor says. "He did such a terrific job of managing that territory that I got really lucky taking over."

Second career

Even though Taylor joined us fresh out of college at age 22, this is his second career. The first was as a midget hockey player. He started out playing for his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers, and finished up his playing career with Bonnyville.

How does a person move from hockey to valves and fittings? Well, his father owned a steel company in Medicine Hat, so Taylor grew up with some knowledge of how industrial companies work. His brother started an engineering company. When Taylor was ready to pick up his college diploma and start a sales career, he asked his brother to name the best companies to approach. The list was short: only four names, and at the top of the list was Edmonton Valve.

"I pulled in to Edmonton Valve to drop off my resume at the front door," Taylor recalls. "They don't normally take an interview from somebody who drops off a resume, but somebody had canceled that day." He ended up talking with company president Keith Johns, and soon was on board.

Transferable skills

Playing hockey gave Taylor an unusual advantage when came to work for us. When he started our mobile inventory fleet, he took care of the western side of Alberta.

"I had played in a lot of those towns, and a lot of the Junior Hockey teams are supported by corporate donations. A lot of the donors are oil and gas companies," Taylor says. " When I started with the mobile truck, I ran into a lot of people who supported teams I played for or against."

It was a great way to break the ice, so to speak.

We've received some dividends from hockey too. For the past 12 years Edmonton Valve has been part of a yearly industrial hockey tournament. Taylor has helped run things both at the team and tournament levels. It's a great chance for him to work with some of our customers in a relaxed setting where they can get to know one another better.

Not surprisingly, Taylor is also one of the top scorers in Edmonton Valve's lunchtime hockey games. But having already proved his talents in midget hockey, Taylor sees it more as an opportunity to have fun.

Taylor lives south of Edmonton in the compact community of Beaumont. His neighbors include a couple of other Edmonton Valve associates, and their children have grown up as friends.

"They have been raised by the culture of Edmonton Valve, which is a highly respectful company that takes care of their employees and their families," Taylor says. "My family has always been floored and amazed by the understanding and generosity that Keith Johns has always had toward family."


Additional resources


In a hurry or have a question? Please click here to get in touch - we respond fast! Or call 780.437.0640.


 

Topics: People

STEM Learning Gets Supersonic Boost From Swagelok

Posted by Alecia Robinson on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 @ 14:09 PM

An attempt to set a new land speed record inspires students in the classroom


 bloodhound.jpgSwagelok is partnering with a Northeast Ohio school district to bring access to BLOODHOUND-themed STEM education programs, watch the video here.


Teachers in Hudson, Ohio, have a great tool for pepping up math and science lessons for fourth-graders: a supersonic car called the Bloodhound.

The Bloodhound is a British-built attempt to set a new land speed record. Swagelok parts are crucial in the car's hydraulics, and especially the brakes. (Good brakes are important in any car, but especially one designed to reach speeds of up to 1,600 km/h.)

So two years ago, Swagelok approached Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman to see if the district would be interested in exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content available through Swagelok's work on the Bloodhound. Through a series of meetings and brainstorming session, the school decided that fourth graders would make an ideal audience.

High-powered learning

“We examined the Bloodhound STEM content through the lens of project-based learning and then reflected on what essential questions could be posed to incorporate the content,” says Christina Wooley, PK-12 curriculum coordinator, Hudson City School District.

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, two teams of fourth-grade teachers have integrated Bloodhound lessons across a wide range of subjects: earth, physical and life sciences; physics; chemistry; language arts; social studies; and English. The program ends with the students designing, building and racing Bloodhound model rocket cars.

Take a look

You can see the excitement in the kids' faces in this five-minute video from Swagelok

"The education side of the project is paramount. If we build the car and just went racing but didn't inspire anybody, I don't think the project would have the value that it has now," says Tony Parraman, sponsor liaison with Bloodhound SSC.

The Bloodhound gives the students' imaginations a big boost. As curriculum coordinator Christina Wooley put it, a typical science lab would give the students a series of steps to follow, and that's that. With the Bloodhound as a focus, students can explore in many different directions.

They also get to see how problems are tackled in the real world.

"I liked the design and building part, how you can design something on paper, and then if it doesn't work you can start over," says one student in the video. In other words, making mistakes is a normal part of learning, and it's not a reason to give up when tackling a problem.

Inspired learning at East Woods School 

“We are so grateful to Swagelok for bringing Hudson students this inspirational learning opportunity,” says Phil Herman, superintendent of the Hudson City School District. “I’ve seen first-hand how our students light up with enthusiasm when they’re solving a STEM challenge tied to Bloodhound.”

Swagelok's role on the car

The gigantic Bloodhound is more than 13 meters long and weighs 7.7 metric tons. It has three engines generating a combined 135,000 horsepower: a jet engine, a rocket engine, and a V8 just to run the fuel pump.

Swagelok components will be relied on to open air brake doors after the rocket car reaches its top speed, and for final breaking below 600 km/h. The company’s products will also play a vital role in the safety of the fueling system and re-fueling rig. Swagelok products on the car include 60 series ball valves and RL series relief valves, QC and QF quick connects, tubing, gauges, hoses, and tube fittings.

You may not be working on a supersonic car, but Edmonton Valve & Fitting can still help get your next fluid system project up to speed. Set up an appointment through our website or call us at 780.437.0640.


Additional resources

Topics: Training, Value Added Services