facility to prove out critical operating
characteristics, under actual passive
heat-removal system service conditions,” using one of Emerson’s large
control valves designed specifically for
the new plant.
OFF TO THE LABS
After a morning of speeches, attendees
were organized into seven groups for a
walking tour around the center, where
staff demonstrated the type of testing
taking place there. It’s one thing to
hear about the massive capabilities of
the center; it was quite another to see
those capabilities in action. While I
thought the massive flow lab, which
takes up a large portion of the facility,
was quite impressive, I was particularly intrigued by the integration test lab.
Lorin Miller, senior marketing manager for FIELDVUE & Positioning
Instruments, explained that the lab
was created to make sure the company’s integration software works well
with everyone’s controls. The walls
were lined with dozens of control
valves from the earliest models to the
latest. In the lab, the staff can simulate a control system so they can test
The flow capabilities of the new flow lab will allow very large valves to be tested in real
and see what the customer would see in
the field, Miller explained.
I appreciated the fact the company
had models from other companies.
After all, an end-user wanting to add
diagnostic software to its control
valves isn’t necessarily going to have
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE INNOVATION CENTER
; The flow lab can fill an Olympic-sized pool in just over eight minutes or a
Goodyear blimp in about 12 seconds.
; Control valves can be tested at pressures up to 3,500 psi—equal to providing
enough force to support a sport utility vehicle on a postage stamp.
; A 26,000-square-foot sound chamber allows engineers to develop and verify
noise levels of new devices before a customer’s plant is ever built.
; To build the center required nearly 2 million pounds of process piping, more
than 1,600 feet of 30-inch and 36-inch pipe, seven underground air storage
tanks each more than 150 feet long, and more than 4,500 cubic yards of
Fisher valves installed. One of the most
frustrating technology tasks many of
us experience today is getting new
software to work with older equipment, so kudos to Emerson for taking
this approach and providing a way to
smooth out compatibility problems
before its software is ever installed.
Getting to Marshalltown is no easy
matter—there are no direct connections to Des Moines from most major
cities; and then you face a 60-mile
drive through countryside. With a very
busy travel and work schedule facing
me, I briefly considered cancelling my
plans to attend the opening. After having visited, however, and seeing what
can be done in the new Innovation Center, I’m really glad I didn’t. VM
JUDY TIBBS is associate publisher/editor-in-chief of Valve Magazine. Reach her at