Industry relies on engineers to bring production to life. Whether it’s a power plant, oil and gas refinery, or a metal smelter, large industrial facilities depend on their specialist knowledge and experience to deliver some of society’s most valuable resources. This applies as much to design as it does to ongoing performance, making those in charge of maintenance and troubleshooting especially important.
It’s also the reason why IMI Critical Engineering employs a large team of Valve Doctors. They are the business’s top technical experts who solve complex engineering challenges, help customers optimise their processes, and protect some of the largest investments found in the industrial sector.
The Valve Doctor development programme has now been running for over 20 years, making it a good time to revisit the role and understand why it’s such a pivotal part of IMI’s vision to deliver breakthrough engineering for a better world. We recently talked to some of our current Valve Doctors and asked them to share their experiences.
Why are Valve Doctors so important?
They are the ‘go-to’ for diagnosing customers’ process flow problems, with the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver breakthrough engineering solutions. Working across power, nuclear, oil and gas, and petrochemical facilities across the world, they are the essence of what we do as a business.
Can you give a stand-out example of work done by a Valve Doctor?
One of the characteristics I’ve always admired in Valve Doctors is their ability and willingness to utilise their broad knowledge and experience to support the organisation through actions that extend well outside their defined roles.
It’s the Valve Doctor in Advanced Engineering Services (AES) who conceives of and ultimately develops a new product to solve a prevalent issue in the marketplace.
It’s the Valve Doctor in project engineering who leads research and testing into noise prediction that helps IMI develop engineering solutions that meet or exceed customers lower noise requirements.
It’s the Valve Doctor who patents new technology that can offer a unique differentiator for IMI products.
It’s the Valve Doctor and application engineer who develops new solutions that don’t just solve one customer’s problem, but the problems felt throughout the industry.
It’s the Valve Doctor and design engineer who helps lead a technology transfer process to ensure that manufacturing standards and quality are maintained.
This is the type of “stand-out” work that comes to mind when I think of Valve Doctors.
How difficult is it to become a Valve Doctor?
Deep knowledge of products is a must, then developing process knowledge. But you also need a strong work ethic and the ability to work independently. To earn the Valve Doctor accreditation, IMI’s engineers must complete a comprehensive programme lasting seven years, covering valve design, plant operation, system layout and control system integration. It can be tricky balancing a core role alongside this work, especially as those who pass are then expected to nurture the next generation of talent, but that’s precisely why Valve Doctors™ are so highly regarded by colleagues and customers.
What do aspiring Valve Doctors need to know?
Be prepared to study your craft and tackle problems outside your specialism. It’s no one’s primary line of work, though some roles within IMI Critical Engineering share many similarities with what’s typically asked of a Valve Doctor™. It’s also a long-term process, lasting several years, so commitment and motivation are key.
What’s the best thing about being a Valve Doctor?
The opportunities we get because of the knowledge gained, and there is real job satisfaction. You’ll help get customers out of a difficult spot and provide them with the ‘breakthrough’ solution needed to complete projects on time and within budget. The career development potential is significant, and you’ll make important connections with influential professionals in your chosen field.