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#TBT | On Thanksgiving Day, a Pressure Seal delivery made all the difference for South Mississippi Electric Power

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In an effort to help South Mississippi Electric Power over a holiday weekend, Industrial Valve and EGC Enterprises pulled-out-all-the-stops to provide a 3-inch, 1500 lb. globe valve at a time when it was badly needed. 

Based out of Mobile, Alabama, Industrial Valve Sales and Service performs valve repairs for several power generation, refining, and pulp and paper plant facilities in the area. During the week of Thanksgiving, they were supporting a plant outage at one of the South Mississippi Electric Power plants in Moeselle, performing routine maintenance.

One task was to change out a pressure seal on a 3”, 1500 lb. class globe valve in a steam service application. In this application, the valve was located upstream and had been allowing fresh water to move into the boiler.  A replacement metal seal from the original equipment manufacturer would have taken a minimum of two weeks. If the plant paid a fee to expedite the valve, the new valve could have been received in a little over a week.

Facing a time limitation, Industrial Valve decided to call EGC Enterprises in Cleveland, Ohio, knowing they could get a graphite pressure seal the next day.

Though the order had been placed with EGC on Wednesday, November 23rd, and scheduled for delivery the following Monday, the plant decided to bring the boiler up ahead of schedule. It was communicated to EGC that the pressure seal would be needed sooner, as it would have to be installed shortly after 6:00 AM on Saturday. So EGC and Industrial Valve switched gears fast.

Mitch Sahadi, EGC’s Manufacturing/Inventory Manager, received the call Friday morning. “We had to engineer the seal, manufacture it and have it arrive in Moeselle in less than 24 hours – and that included the 12-hour drive to get it there,” said Sahadi.  When the engineering was complete, it called for a conventional pressure seal with top and bottom stainless steel caps.  “We had no time to call our metal cap supplier, but fortunately we had the capability to make the caps on our CNC equipment in-house.”  A “hot-shot”, or expedited driver, arrived at EGC and left with the pressure seal at about 3:00 PM.  He arrived safely in Moeselle by 6AM the next morning.

Industrial Valve was able to complete the installation on-time for South Mississippi Electric Power to bring their unit back on-line.

There are three different styles of graphite pressure seals made by EGC.  The first is a conventional or die molded pressure seal specified by our engineers for this particular valve.  It’s made of high-density flexible graphite with stainless steel caps on the top and bottom.  It’s the same style seal qualified and used by the US Navy in nuclear propulsion vessels.

The VSG Graphite Pressure Seal is the second.  It has been created specifically for outages at power plants and developed  to enhance the production process by eliminating tooling and shortening the weeks long wait to a matter of days.  It delivers the same performance as the conventional seal.

The third, the VSG Pro, uses metal corners to contain the graphite.  The VSG Pro can be completed the same day as the order arrives and can be shipped immediately.  Best of all, the price point is decidedly lower so the VSG Pro is cost-competitive with its metal counterpart.

All pressure seals, conventional, VSG and VSG Pro, are available through the FastTrac program which allows EGC to engineer, manufacture and ship pressure seals in 48 hours or less.  For this level of service, FastTrac does include an expedited cost.

Stu Padgett, Purchasing Manager for Industrial Valve, says “we use a great deal of graphite in all that we do. Graphite seals most cavity imperfections so we seldom need to re-machine the valve surface and that’s a tremendous savings.  Metal pressure seals, on the other hand, require a perfect mating surface for the metal ring to hold in a steam service application.”

“EGC does a great job,” says Padgett. “Our expectations were met, the customer service was fabulous and the hot-shot driver got here right on-the-dot at 6AM.  Even the cost of the seal is fine.”

“In terms of the cost, opening a manufacturing plant to make a pressure seal on the Friday after Thanksgiving is enough to give anyone heartburn,” says Jeff Bernthisel, Vice President of EGC.  “But we have to do it to keep our customers satisfied.  Imagine if we couldn’t make it and the OEM needed two weeks to satisfy the customer?  You’re talking about a unit at an electric plant being down for another week.  Fortunately, we could get Industrial Valve the seal and they were able to install it for South Mississippi Electric as required, saving the high cost of a weeks-worth of down time.”

Corporate Profile

EGC is a recognized world leader in the engineering and manufacturing of graphite composites for high-temperature applications in sealing or thermal systems management. The EGC website can be accessed at https://egcgraphite.com/.

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