These approvals are especially important for drinking water applications, where it is crucial that the components do not pose a risk of contamination and do not affect taste and smell. Some of these approvals specifically deal with the materials such as rubber, epoxy coating, plastics and brass used in valves, and some with the complete valve and function. Surprisingly, there are very few pan-European standards. Instead, standards are determined at national level and even in some cases by the local water works in the respective countries.
In the driver’s seat concerning rubber
Taking rubber as an example, Germany has its own set of standards for rubber compounds used in drinking water applications, and the same is valid for other European countries as well as for US, China and Australia, among others. Altogether there are at least 20 different sets of standards for rubber compounds worldwide.
Today, AVK is the only valve manufacturer with its own rubber compound manufacturing site. We have developed a family of rubber compounds for drinking water that we consider universal, as it complies with the broadest possible range of approval requirements. However, some countries like Japan and South Korea have specific requirements where special compounds are required.
Anders G. Christensen, Sales and R&D Director at AVK GUMMI A/S says: "The end users of AVK valves count on us to help them navigate this welter of standards, even though this is not an easy task. Regulatory requirements themselves can be a moving target, and the number of required approvals is increasing year after year, while many of the existing approvals are undergoing constant revisions".
AVK plays an active part, not only in meeting regulatory requirements, but also in helping to establish them. “At present, we are working with the German authorities to help define and secure a transition to a new approval system that is even better than the previous one”, says Anders G. Christensen.
Attention on brass and epoxy
It is evident that materials like brass and epoxy coating also are of high importance, as these, if not chosen or applied correctly, may also contaminate drinking water. For instance, new EU standards for brass have resulted in a positive list of approved brass materials aiming to set limits for cadmium and lead emission that might migrate into the drinking water. Consequently, AVK has implemented a new brass material for all components, which are in contact with drinking water. Furthermore, only epoxy manufacturers with the main drinking water approvals are selected for AVK valves, and the coating process in our factories strictly follow the application recommendations set by the epoxy manufacturers. In addition, our coating process is GSK approved.
Proof of quality and safety
Niels Jørgen Hedegaard, Head of Quality at AVK International A/S in Denmark adds: "Authorities such as the German DVGW, the British WRAS, the French NF and the Dutch KIWA offer standards and approvals for finished valves, and these are also recognized and accepted by other countries that presently don’t have their own approval regulations. By obtaining and maintaining the most widely accepted water approvals worldwide, we assure our customers that AVK valves always meet the highest quality and safety standards".
A major investment
All of this adds up to a major investment of time and money for AVK in order to obtain new and maintain existing approvals. "Each approval requires a massive amount of documentation and paperwork, and it can often take weeks or even months to work through the entire approval process" says Niels Jørgen Hedegaard. Re-certification is required every three to five years, and the entire process involves factory audits, product tests and documentation reviews.
The costs are therefore significant. "It’s an expense, no doubt," says Niels Jørgen Hedegaard, "but we regard it as a long-term investment. By testing the quality and safety of our valves against the requirements, we ensure that customers always can rely on AVK valves, as opposed to other valves available in the market that do not meet the strict regulatory standards."
Protection of our drinking water
Drinking water is becoming a scarce resource. Therefore, it is of vital importance that we all do our best not to contaminate it, while distributing it to the users. AVK as a global player within valves is certainly committed to keeping drinking water safe by making the best valves in the water business.
Therefore, investing in AVK valves is a commitment to safe drinking water.