For process operators, changes in the use of their plant always entails greater failure and error risks. The GEA VARIVENT® valve portfolio ensures stable plant operation with robust technology, efficient automation and well-positioned service, supporting such important production sectors as the food, dairy and beverage industries. Nearly inexhaustible options for adaption and expansion offer all users the appropriate scope for action whenever necessary. This enables companies to counteract restrictions, bottlenecks and market fluctuations even in the current pandemic situation and keep their processes competitive.
Robust design and sealing concept
Hygienic valves control liquid processes at all process stages and are utilized, for example, by the dozens in valve blocks for filling, emptying and cleaning tank farms. With this in mind, the developers at GEA have given their premium valve family a design that has been optimized over decades with a view to durability and functional reliability. Whether housing walls, pipe connections, moving parts or associated control technology: GEA VARIVENT® valve design is well-known in the markets for its ability to withstand loads beyond the stresses of everyday use.
An equally robust, FEM-optimized sealing concept ensures the hygienic safety of the valve technology, even under heavy-duty use, and the processed food and beverage products. The special shape of the groove in the valve disk gives the seals a precise hold during switching operations, also in case of high-pressure differences. The metallic stop ensures a defined deformation, which means that the seal remains reliable over exceptionally long service periods.
The added robustness pays off when established operating procedures are restricted or skilled workers are not available to the usual extent, as may be the case during the pandemic. “The care we invested in the technology concept right from the outset is now bringing stability where it is needed most,” explains Annika Burmeister, Product Manager for hygienic valves at the responsible GEA Competence Center in Buechen. “In dairies and other important supply operations, our customers have to deliver the highest performance every day. They are now expressing great relief with regard to the reliable performance of our valves and the safety they provide.”
Easy adaptation of processes and capacities
While recipe changes are often the order of the day in liquid processes, batch cycles are also currently adjusted with some frequency, owing to crisis-related supply or delivery bottlenecks. Thanks to the standard automatic control of all GEA VARIVENT® valves such changes in the process program are simple and safe. The valves are connected via their standardized digital control top to the central process control system, which coordinates all opening and closing operations etc. according to the selected program. Fail-safe monitoring is ensured by the state-of-the-art feedback technology built into GEA’s current control top models. If a control top has to be reconfigured for this purpose, factory personnel can do this without special training – with the latest models from GEA, a push of a button is all that is needed.
“Users that harness the possibilities offered by valve automation are better prepared to cope with changes as well as for tomorrow,” sums up Bernd Porath, Product Manager for valve automation technology at GEA: “The digital, network-enhanced future of processing plants has already begun. Our technology provides users with the security and efficiency that is now – think of ‘Industry 4.0’ – becoming increasingly essential.”
Precise retrofitting and expansion
If the plant is to be converted or expanded so that it can continue to serve its purpose or meet changed objectives, operators hold all the trumps with the GEA VARIVENT® modular system: over a million configuration options ensure exactly the right equipment or upgrade options that are ideally suited and will therefore optimally support stable operation. Existing valve units and entire valve blocks can be retrofitted with precision to meet future process tasks by replacing individual components.
If, for example, a company aims for a stronger position in terms of sustainability, the LEFF® technology (“Low Emission Flip Flop”) in the latest GEA valve control tops can save up to 90 percent of clean-in-place media. Other components in the GEA portfolio support substantial water and energy savings – such as the GEA VARICOVER® system based on the valve concept, which recovers valuable product residues from piping and minimizes the amount of rinsing water for pipe cleaning.
Relieving installation and maintenance options
In the event of larger investments in new valve technology, current restrictions can make the installation on site difficult. In this case, extended pre-assembly of valve installations at the GEA plant has proven valuable to relieve the burden on GEA customers: “We are seeing stronger demand than previously for this in the highly stressed food and beverage industries,” observes product manager Annika Burmeister. “We can work well in advance and deliver the installations worldwide and with pinpoint precision to the individual specifications. Experienced consultants are available to support our customers despite the currently limited contact options.”
For maximum support in valve maintenance, GEA is pulling out all stops to prepare suitable virtual service offers. The modular concept of the GEA VARIVENT® portfolio simplifies maintenance in any case: All valve units –single-seat or mixproof valves as well as variants with special functions – draw on the same types of components. As a result, operators only need to keep a small number of different spare parts on hand, and parts can be supplied at short notice worldwide via local service hubs – an important support factor and a boost for plant maintenance efficiency.
Manufacturing quality and ongoing progress
GEA VARIVENT® users gain security for their operations not least thanks to the exceptional manufacturing quality of each valve. All valves in the GEA’s premium family are manufactured exclusively at the GEA plant in Buechen near Hamburg, where the mixproof double-seat valve was invented more than 50 years ago. It still represents the foundation for mixproof process valve technology today. In addition, the GEA VARIVENT® family has decisively driven progress with the introduction of the first mix-proof valves in PMO-certified design for the US market.
Photo 1, caption: The GEA VARIVENT® valve portfolio ensures stable plant operation with exceptionally robust technology, efficient automation and well-positioned service, supporting such important production sectors as the food, dairy and beverage industries. (Photo: GEA)
Photo 2, caption: GEA VARIVENT® valve design is well-known in the markets for its ability to withstand loads beyond the stresses of everyday use. (Photo: GEA)
GEA is one of the largest suppliers for the food processing industry and of related industries that generated consolidated revenues of over EUR 4.9 billion in 2019. The international technology group specializes in machinery, and plants as well as process technology and components. GEA provides sustainable energy solutions for sophisticated production processes in various end-user markets and offers a comprehensive service portfolio. The group generates around 70 percent of its revenue in the food and beverages sector that enjoys long-term sustainable growth. As of December 31, 2019, the company employed about 18,500 people worldwide. The company is listed on the German MDAX (G1A, WKN 660 200), the STOXX® Europe 600 Index as well as the DAX 50 ESG Index and selected MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes. Further information is available on the Internet at gea.com.