Bray International: changing valve manufacturing’s mindset through digital transformation
“Our customers face the day-to-day prospect of operating in increasingly extreme conditions in a safe and environmentally responsible way. The product technologies and solutions that we offer must maintain pace with these demands,” states Brindesh Dhruva, Chief Technology Officer. Since joining Bray International in early 2013, he has been tasked with steering the company’s technology transformation, creating innovative solutions and products that its customers can rely on.
Holding a Doctorate from Yale in Engineering and having previously worked in the Upstream O&G Industry for over 13 years across a variety of roles such as Marketing & Technology Manager prior to joining Bray, Dhruva believes his early engineering experiences in developing products with a high demand on reliability and performance helps him in his current role as CTO of Bray. “Over the past several years we have been able to develop world-class solutions and products. In doing so, we have utilized, for example, additive manufacturing techniques for control valve applications and smart sensors to develop real-time monitoring.”
Just over 30 years ago, the Founders of the company – Craig Brown and Frank Raymond revolutionized the global rotary flow control market. Today, Bray provides global distribution and manufacturing with locally available service and expertise for a variety of flow control products. Bray’s products have extensive application in a wide range of critical services. These include butterfly valves in cryogenic conditions for an LNG application to Severe Service Ball Valves in very high temperature & corrosive conditions in a refinery application. Bray’s extensive product portfolio includes resilient seated and high-performance butterfly valves, critical service triple offset valves, floating and trunnion ball valves, metal seated ball valves, actuators, and control accessories to enable smart technology. The application of this portfolio is even more diverse and includes circulating water, flue gas desulfurization, demineralized water, fuel oil (fire safe), service water, steam, fuel gas, potable water, water/glycol, and various other compounds.
Such rapid progress has been the result of Bray’s commitment to its research & development (R&D) and operations in the US, India and China where its main Manufacturing, Engineering and R&D Labs are located. Expanding similar capabilities in Latin America, Europe and Australia has also been an integral part of Bray’s growth. It’s this visionary commitment, which Dhruva affirms, has been important in building the foundations for long-term success.
“Over the last several years we have reinforced the right technical teams by strengthening the link between manufacturing, engineering and sales. We have also reinforced the right product development process which starts with the voice of our customers and ends with their satisfaction. It’s about putting together a global team that has the right capabilities and infrastructure that allows us to develop, validate and produce products that exceed customer expectations in terms of reliability and performance,” says Dhruva. “That’s the way we operate! That’s what defines the products, technologies and services we aspire to continuously provide.”
Indeed, Bray continues to evolve and has transformed itself into a technology company that can deliver highly customized, highly engineered products and services for a wide range of severe applications. Dhruva points out that these types of transformations start at the top and percolate down. “Bray has a rich history, full of achievements, which we are all very proud of, but the Founders of the company continue to see an even brighter future in terms of growth and technology innovation.”
Introducing new products to market
Recent technical and commercial successes include Tri Lok – Triple Offset Butterfly Valve, Series 98 Scotch Yoke Pneumatic Actuator, M1 Severe Service Ball Valve, S19 Segmented Control Valve and numerous other valves, actuators and controls accessories. The product capabilities along with global Applications Engineers that understand the customer’s challenges enable Bray to provide not just good products, but good solutions for our customer’s needs.
The technical success of our products relies heavily on the design and validation steps within the Bray Product Development Process all of which conform to ISO 9001 standards. Bray’s Global Technology presence spans multiple R&D locations around the world including India, UK, Brazil and in Houston’s Bray Raymond Technology Center – proudly named after one of its founders, Frank Raymond. The design decisions at Bray are made in line with customer requirements and with product reliability, manufacturability and product cost in mind. “Our Engineers must understand the difference between investment casting and sand casting…and they must understand how tight tolerances and surface finish requirements impact manufacturability (costs) just as much as product performance” says Dhruva. The qualification of products program includes not only design validation but also validation of the manufacturing process to be able to produce product with consistent high quality.
Commercial success doesn’t come serendipitously, even for great products. It begins during the early phases of a product development process in identifying customer needs, getting their input & influence into the design process and ensuring good market introduction. “I'm a firm believer that good product introduction doesn't happen accidentally. It comes as a result of a very deliberate approach of bringing products to market,” explains Dhruva. “That means we engage our customers very early on during development to ensure we get the requirements right. It means we understand the voice of the customer, the customer's needs and then incorporate those findings into our product requirements and our service & sales organization.”
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With industry 4.0 driving the manufacturing industry forward, companies such as Bray rely on innovation and the ability to understand the latest trends to leverage & provide products & solutions. “It’s important we keep up with what our customers face today, but also respond to the technology trends in the industry that will take them to the next level tomorrow. There are two examples that I would highlight here. One is on additive manufacturing where we’ve worked through a super partnership to 3D-Print metal components in a control valve application to significantly improve flow performance by incorporating design features that aren’t possible with traditional casting and forging processes.” says Dhruva. “The second example involves developing predictive monitoring with near real-time measurements on valves that will provide performance diagnosis in a proactive and predictive way.”
With Bray several years into their technology transformation journey, Dhruva believes the company’s ability to quickly evolve to address the growing market needs and leverage technology trends is key to continued and sustainable growth.
“As long as we understand our customer’s needs and as long as we understand the moving technology pieces, we will continue to grow as the technology partner of choice. Bray has the people, processes and the technology infrastructure to meet our customer’s most difficult needs.”
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