Quality By Design
Graver’s customers demand a high level of quality in their critical applications whether it is condensate polishing, primary loop treatment or other specialty septa and ion exchange applications. Septa and connecting hardware must be 100 percent reliable. Ion exchange resins must perform at the very highest level. On–time delivery is crucial to avoid disruptions in a customer’s schedule and operations.
That’s why we at Graver ask ourselves every day if we are meeting those criteria as we accept nothing short of always supplying the world’s best products and services. “We know Graver’s technology is better than the competition,” explains John McPeak, vice president and general manager of this Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway Company. “But we don’t rely just on this comparison to measure quality. We want every product and service to be the absolute best possible to meet our customer’s critical needs. At Graver, we never stop asking how we can improve.
Gravers’ ion exchange and power generation septa/filter technology maintain high quality through strong programs that govern virtually every activity of the process. These programs are far too numerous to list here; nonetheless, it’s important for customers to understand the extent of our focus on quality assurance. Below, we discuss a few of our guiding QA principles and present examples that demonstrate those principles in practice.
Principle: We adhere exactly to regulations
Example: When manufacturing ion exchange resins for nuclear power plants at our New Jersey facility we know this means meeting the same federal guidelines – such as 10 CFR 50, appendix B - that govern our nuclear power customers. “QA programs for our ion exchange division are tailored to ensure products and procedures precisely meet these federal standards,” assures Al Tavares, technical/product manager for ion exchange.
One resource that aids this process is the Nuclear Utilities Procurement Issues Committee (NUPIC), an industry organization that sets supplier guidelines and sends auditors to assess compliance. “We’ve found NUPIC guidelines are more stringent than ISO for this purpose,” says Kurt Bozenmayer, quality control supervisor. “The NUPIC auditors evaluate an exhaustive list as part of their regular audits – purchasing, pricing, supply chain, manufacturing, record-keeping, delivery.”
Principle: We maintain independent quality certifications.
Example: In our filter and septa manufacturing, we recently upgraded our ISO certification from ISO 9001:2000 to ISO 9001:2008. “We’re very proud that the recent recertification process at our Delaware facility went flawlessly with zero areas of non-conformance,” notes Robin Callaghan, director of operations at the Delaware facility. This reflects the day to day adherence that Graver maintains to the standards.
This division also follows an overarching QA philosophy called the Lean Manufacturing Journey, a process management concept that began at Toyota. “This program emphasizes continuous improvement as a journey that never ends,” remarks Callaghan. “For instance, it helps us systematically identify areas for increasing efficiency in order to shorten lead times, or institute error-proofing, which ensures that the correct way is the only possible way to do something.”
Principle: Graver continually improves our products through design improvements, significant investments and quality enhancements
Example: “Through manufacturing process improvements, we supply a much purer resin today than we did even 5 to 10 years ago,” says Tavares. “One percent residual chloride ions had been a fairly typical specification years ago, but we dropped that to 0.5 % for standard anion resins. Our nuclear grade resins are 0.1% chloride or less and premium Ultra-low chloride IX resins are significantly lower than that.” We've reduced sulfate content of cation resins as well, another step that safeguards customer equipment. Graver is the only supplier able to consistently achieve this level of purity, which provides tangible cost savings for nuclear power customers.
In the septa and filter division, we recently upgraded manufacturing equipment at significant capital expense to improve two product lines. We now produce our Aegis® TurboGuard® high flow filters with a programmable logic controlled (PLC), fully thermally bonded manufacturing process that replaces an adhesive-bonded process – this automated machinery tightly controls the new process and eliminates variability. We also have invested in PLC, semi-automated bonding technology in our Aegis® AFA® and Aegis® DualGuard® lines to ensure reliable end cap bonding and absolutely consistent products. Continual design improvements also resulted in strengthened end caps for these septa products by instituting a monolithic one-piece design that replaces a two-piece construction that had the potential for weakness or failure. At Graver, design and process improvements go hand-in hand and are managed by an integrated team effort.
Principle: We ask our customers how we are doing
Example: Graver recently reviewed and upgraded our ordering and fulfillment process, evaluating every aspect including order entry, order acknowledgement, pricing and more. To aid in getting every order right every time, we modified our order processing software to ensure error-proof operation. We also annually undertake customer surveys and act on feedback from these surveys.
“Graver’s commitment to continuous improvement and technology development has been the key aspect of our quality programs,” says Bill Cummings, VP and General Manager of the liquid filter division. “It separates us from our competitors because our relentless efforts help increase our customers’ success, improve their efficiency, manage their costs, and keep them at the forefront of technology.”
Principle: We retain an extremely experienced workforce
Example: We continually train and upgrade our workforce to ensure adherence to all quality principles and procedures. However, our workforce also collectively boasts hundreds of years of experience in this industry. Many of our staff members – from our corporate offices to the laboratory to the manufacturing floor – have been with us for decades. “When you spend that much time, you come to know the products, the processes, the procedures and the requirements inside and out,” says Bozenmayer. “That intensive knowledge improves quality.”
Please contact us with any questions about our quality assurance process. Your Graver representative is always ready to discuss our exceptional QA in greater detail.
Do You Have Resin Leakage?
The Location: Filter Demineralizers (FD) in the RWCU system.
The Process: During precoat material application to the septa.
The Problem: Resin leakage, or bypass. Resin bypass can occur in two areas. First, bypass may occur at the metal-to-metal juncture where the precoat septa tube bundle attaches to the vessel. Second, bypass can occur at the vent filter that some customers have incorporated into their tube bundles used in Reactor Water Cleanup (RWCU) systems.
The Discussion: Resin bypass can cause significant problems as resin cannot be allowed to access the reactor. Resin traps remove most of the resin that bypasses the precoat vessel but the traps may become plugged with resin. To clean the resin traps, the vessel must be removed from service. This cleaning process not only increases workload for RWCU personnel, it reduces the reactor water processing by 50 percent, allowing particulate and ionic radioactive impurities to accumulate faster in the reactor system piping and components. Vents in the septa can present an additional bypass risk; this can be addressed by the use of an Ecodex® type product. However, that can result in a pre-coat with a lower ion exchange capacity than a pure resin precoat mix. That may be acceptable to some operations while not to others.
The Methodology: Graver recently introduced a modified version of its Aegis® PowerGuard® precoat septa tube bundle assembly featuring an innovative tube bundle sealing mechanism. Instead of a metal-to metal connection at the tube bundle juncture, Graver customizes a sealing design that fits securely on the flange face, virtually eliminating resin bypass through this connection point.
Some users are also in the process of eliminating traditional vent filters from their systems as well. This step eliminates the bypass risk vent filters pose.
The Conclusions: New and improved PowerGuard stainless steel precoat septa and bundle assemblies can prevent resin bypass. Eliminating traditional vent filters removes the secondary risk of bypass. Executing both actions virtually eliminates resin bypass during precoat material application to the septa.
Further Research: Your Graver representative can give you more information about this new PowerGuard assembly feature. Along with improved septa, Graver has also developed a new line of ion exchange products to address cobalt and other radionuclides in this application.
Graver Focuses on Colloidal Cobalt Reduction
Graver continues to pioneer products that assist in removing colloidal cobalt. “We’re developing a new Gravex® product that should be commercialized soon and it looks very promising,” says Al Tavares, Graver’s IX technical/product manager. “Customers report excellent results in pilot testing. We believe Graver is already a leading expert in this area, but we’re aiming to be the industry’s best source for exacting colloidal cobalt solutions.”
Graver continues to invest significantly in researching and developing innovative media for removing cobalt – one of the radioactive species that nuclear power plants are deeply engaged in reducing/removing. As discussed at length in previous Powerline issues, radioactive colloidal cobalt is found in both pressurized water reaction (PWR) and boiling water reactor (BWR) plants. Specialized media are used in condensate polishers, reactors water cleanup (RWCU), fuel pool, blow down demineralizer, chemical volume control systems, and Radwaste apps to reduce/eliminate colloidal cobalt.
Graver’s Gravex family of products removes not only isotopes of cobalt, but isotopes of nickel, iron and silver as well. Gravex anion, cation and mixed bed Macroporous Nuclear Grade Resins have been regenerated and processed to provide the highest possible performance. Products include:
• GR-1-5 NG (OH) - Nuclear Grade anion
macroporous exchange resin
• GR-2-17 NG (H); GR-7-17 NG (7Li) – Nuclear Grade hydrogen or lithium 7 form cation
• GR-3-17 NG (H/OH) - Nuclear Grade 2:1 C:A volume ratio mixed bed
• GR-4-17 NG (7Li/OH) - Nuclear Grade chemically equivalent mixed bed with lithium 7 form cation
To achieve the most effective performance, a five to ten cubic foot layer of GR-1-5 NG is applied over a 20 to 25 cubic feet of either of the mixed beds. The GR-2-17 NG may also be applied as a layer when circumstances dictate.
Please contact your Graver representative for more information about these innovative products.
North American Sales Manager
Regional Manager NW/Canada
Dr. Maurice Rens
Director of European Sales
Stuttgart Office: (49) 711 3154 7160
cell: (32) 49 521 2746
fax: (49) 711 3154 7170
Country Manager - China
cell: (86) 137 0188 2885
Regional Manager Southeast
Regional Manager - China
cell: (86) 139 1058 0025
Regional Manager West
Regional Sales Manager - China
phone: (86) 21 5238 6576
cell: (86) 138 1783 3997
IX Technical/Product Manager
Global Customer Service/Inside Sales
Utility Filter Product Manager
Dr. Peter Yarnell
Ion Exchange Development Group Leader