ERL/Law Valve of Texas hosted its annual open house October 24 at the company’s headquarters in Channelview, Texas. The popular event each year welcomes customers, vendors and industry representatives to Law Valve of Texas’ facility, where they tour valve and pump rebuild stations and get to know Law Valve’s team members.
The 2019 event featured ample barbecue and boiled seafood fare, a wide range of Law Valve swag, door prizes and guided tours and demonstrations.
Pump Test Area
The highlight of this year’s open house, though, was ERL/Law Valve of Texas’ newly-opened pump test area. The pump test area—a first of its kind for the inland market—is set apart from the company’s other warehouse and office space. Rebuilt pumps are installed within a closed system of pipes and tanks, with sensors throughout monitoring fluid flow rates, pressure, temperature and pump vibration. Company officials perform pump tests either remotely or within an enclosed, climate-controlled operations center on site. The test area allows Law Valve of Texas and customers to identify precise flow rates and efficiency specifications and develop operation profiles for individual pumps.
“It’s the only one in the industry,” said Craig Theiler, general manager of Law Valve of Texas. “We can confirm the flow rate and efficiency and tell you how much horsepower you need. We can also perform root cause failure analysis of pumps by monitoring, in real time, mechanical seal leakage, vibration frequency, pressures and flow rates at every point on a pump curve. In addition, we can train tankermen on how to best operate each pump at BEP, ‘best efficiency point.’”
Theiler explained that, in the past, Law Valve has used formulas for estimating flow rates for rebuilt pumps based on a similar pump design.
“But it’s a calculation based on similar pumps rather than an actual test of an individual pump,” he said. “It’s not specific.”
That’s where the pump test system comes into play.
“These pumps get rebuilt, and they last,” Theiler continued. “It’s a tried and true design, so the pump will last 20-plus years as it’s rebuilt. As you rebuild it over the years, the efficiency drops, so this pump test area gives you very specific data for that particular pump.”
Standing in the operations center for the pump test area, Theiler pointed to monitors displaying flow rates and efficiency specs. The pump demonstrated at the open house was running at 74 percent efficiency and using 319 hp. With that data, customers will know how to best operate pumps for peak fuel and flow efficiency.
“It’s a good added value to our customers,” Theiler said.
“The benefit of the ERL Pump Test Area is the ability to further improve our industry-leading, vertical turbine pump design by performing research and development on prototype pump designs and verify operating performance. We can also qualify performance of our customers’ pumps,” Theiler added. “This is the only pump test stand of its kind in the industry which provides ERL, Law Valve of Texas and our customers the ability to document all pump operating conditions.”
Randy Jones with Kirby Inland Marine said seeing the pump test system in operation was remarkable.
“The tour of the pump test area was amazing,” Jones said. “It showed all the load rates, head pressure. Everybody’s impressed with that.”
Elsewhere, open house attendees had the chance to see Law Valve team members offering demonstrations at each rebuild station, from actuators and ball valves to the safety valve test area and the sight glass rebuild area. In addition, rebuilt and repainted pumps were on display alongside pumps fresh off the barge.
“Our customers face unique challenges each day,” Theiler said. “Law Valve and ERL are strategically positioned to help our customers solve these problems. Our open house provides the platform to demonstrate to our customers the resources they have available to them through ERL and Law Valve.”
Throughout the event, attendees enjoyed not only a behind-the-scenes looks at Law Valve of Texas’ operation but also the chance to catch up with old friends and make new contacts. It’s an annual chance to socialize and network that all involved look forward to.
“This event has been going on for years, and each year it gets bigger and better,” said Jeremiah Hart with Savage Inland Marine. “Our industry is competitive, but when we come together at an event like this, we’re all friends.”
Belinda Gibson, office manager for Law Valve of Texas and the lead planner for the open house, said the event goes back to 2008. Each year it gets bigger, with around 500 estimated to have attended this year.
“It’s a great event that we look forward to every year,” Gibson said. “It’s a great opportunity to build new relationships, nurture existing ones and show off our new pump test area.”
Dr. Larry Wilkins founded ERL Inc.—or Electromechanical Research Laboratories—in 1970. The New Albany, Ind.-based company is a leading marine equipment manufacturer that specializes in pumps, winches, valves, overfill protection products—a full line of tank barge products. In 2005, ERL acquired Law Valve of Texas, which has grown to become a marine industry leader in valve and pump repairs, along with ERL products.
Caption for top photo: ERL/Law Valve of Texas’ new pump test system. (Photo by Frank McCormack)
For more photos from the ERL/Law Valve of Texas Open House, see the slideshow below.