The new valves had to meet specific criteria. They had to eliminate leaks and maintain proper water flow. They also had to last seven to 10 years, and fit with a new water distribution system while still working with the current system.
With these guidelines, Specialty began custom development on a valve. The company tested the existing valves to verify issues and determine where improvements were needed. The new solution focused on precise threading, long-lasting internal springs, and a new toggle design.
The original threading was inconsistent, and Specialty calibrated its threads for proper tolerance and fit. The in-house engineering team also adjusted where the threads started on the valve to ensure the proper height between pipe and water pan.
Another major issue with the existing valve was an internal component – a rubber tube that served as a spring. When the toggle was pressed by a pig to release water, the tube would compress to allow water to flow through. However, rubber has a memory, and over time would remain compressed. This led to leaky valves, contributing to excess water use and difficulty for pigs to operate the valve.
Specialty replaced the rubber tubes with stainless steel springs to ensure reliable, long-lasting performance. The spring is centered on a brass pivot, which also makes it easier to push and activate. This is especially important because these valves are used throughout production facilities, and the smallest pigs can easily press the toggles to release water.
Similar optimizations were made to the toggles themselves. The existing valve design featured a slot on the toggle, which caused a spray when water released. The new valve uses a continuous slope instead of a slot. This allows the farm to use a lower water pressure while ensuring the water runs smoothly off the toggle and into the water pan.