While hoses are often overlooked, they remain a fundamental asset for many applications in several industries. Selecting the correct hose for any specific application is likewise integral to the safe and efficient distribution of media from one location to another. To ensure that the correct hose is chosen, there are a number of factors that one must consider.
Hose + Coupling World had the pleasure of speaking with the President and CEO of Fenix Flex, Dale Dunlap, about the importance of implementing hose selection strategies, the primary strategies used, and how best to optimize those strategies.
By KCI Editorial
Q: What is the general hose selection process?
A: The most well-recognized and widely adopted approach to selecting a hose is the use of the acronym S.T.A.M.P.E.D.. Each letter acts as a parameter to use when replacing or determining the specifications for a hose being entered into service. The acronym stands for:
Each aspect of S.T.A.M.P.E.D. highlights a vital factor that must be considered when placing a hose order, as it defines almost every facet of the hose itself. It simultaneously allows suppliers to recommend a hose, as they can determine the appropriate specification based on the S.T.A.M.P.E.D. information they receive from the operator.
Beginning with size, the user considers the required length and diameter of the hose, as well as the size of the fittings and couplings. Moving onto temperature, both the internal and external aspects of the hose are considered. Much of the time, there are different rubber compounds utilized for the interior and the exterior of the hose. If it is hot outside, and there is a cool material moving through the hose, or vice versa, a different rubber compound may be more suitable than another.
Another factor to consider is what the hose is being exposed to. For example, sunlight or ozone can deteriorate a hose and must factor into the decision. The next aspect to consider is the application: where is the hose being used? What is it being used for? If a variety of products are being conveyed through the hose, the compatibility of the various materials/media must be considered. For example, it is common for additives to be used in the media that is conveyed through a hose. If the additives can react negatively with the hose’s material of construction, then the hose will fail; in a cooling hose, there are often anti-corrosive additives that go into the water, which even in small quantities can deteriorate the tubing of the hose.
Pressure ratings are a very important component in the construction of the hose. If a hose is used in an application that surpasses its pressure rating, it can have highly adverse effects. Should the hose burst it could lead to personnel injury and to the exposure of hazardous materials. The next factor to consider is the ends of the hose: what type of fitting is required? Each hose end subsequently could have a different drilling pattern suitable for the application at hand. The final consideration is the delivery of the hose: when is the hose needed and can it be supplied within the timeframe? Each aspect of S.T.A.M.P.E.D. is of equal importance when attempting to make a smart and lasting purchase order.
Q: Why is hose selection important?
A: Individuals outside of the hose industry do not often attribute significant importance to hoses, but the right hose can make all the difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Using a selection strategy to properly assess a hose’s fitness for service is essential to mitigating the risk of failure and ensuring that operators can interact with the asset in a safe, low-risk environment. If a hose fails during use, there is significant potential for bodily and environmental harm. Exposure to hazardous materials and injury from high uncontrolled highly pressurized hoses, as well as operational delays, are just some examples of the adverse effects of improper selection.
Q: How can operators and suppliers optimize this strategy?
A: One additional step that could optimize the effectiveness of S.T.A.M.P.E.D. would be to conduct a thorough analysis of how the previous hose functioned and determine its strengths and weaknesses. In other words, operators should perform a ‘postmortem’ before placing a repeat order.
A term borrowed from project management, a ‘post-mortem’ is a form of evaluation conducted at the end of a completed project. Rather than assume that the previous asset was the most suitable hose for the application, it is beneficial to review how well it functioned and assess for improvement opportunities. A starting place for this process may be to look at any problems that arose with the hose during the initial use: did it live up to expectations? Are there other hoses available now that may be better suited to the project? Was the previous hose delivered on time? Were there any communicative errors? Has there been a price increase? Is the hose, or materials, going to be phased out? All of these factors should be considered prior to ordering a new hose. The same step can be applied to the process of selecting a hose for a new project. In this scenario it is beneficial to review other projects that may have had similar specifications.
While using S.T.A.M.P.E.D. is a good way of thinking, adding in the consideration of a past purchase may do a world of good when moving forward with the hose order.
Another strategy occasionally used for hose selection is known as ‘buy one, try one.’ This method is not as popular or widely used as it can be quite costly and therefore not beneficial to suppliers. The concept is to buy a hose that appears to be the best fit, and if it does not meet the necessary requirement, select another. As the cost of hoses has been steadily increasing, this is not considered the best hose selection strategy.
Q: Do you have any advice on how to best optimize hose selection?
A: When selecting a hose, it is best to look for value. Good value is best thought of as a good product at a reasonable price that will solve an end user or distributor’s problem. While it is of course beneficial to continue using a trusted supplier, to optimize hose selection, considering all potential options may be best.
The ultimate goal is to have a hose that will meet the necessary requirements and enhance efficiency. I also strongly recommend that hose operators and suppliers begin to seriously consider implementing the ‘post-mortem’ strategy. While a repeat order may still be the best option, it is important to consider all factors and opportunities. This will effectively elevate the S.T.A.M.P.E.D. process to a new advantageous level.
Q: What is causing price increases and how does cost affect the selection strategy?
A: A price change in industrial and hydraulic hoses can be the result of several factors, however, it is often related to disruptions in the supply chain. This can be looked at from two perspectives. As rubber is typically made from petroleum compounds, and many of the necessary components of a petroleum compound are produced overseas, it has become increasingly difficult to source the materials of construction.
This in turn has led to significant price increases for the raw material, which drives the cost of the hose itself up. The second factor to consider is the cost of the delays themselves. This has a direct impact on a supplier’s ability to maintain inventory and therefore can result in costly delays in production. As a distributor, it is often a good idea to consider maintaining relationships with multiple sources. For example, distributors may consider shipping from Europe, as opposed to elsewhere, as they typically have not had the same difficulties as other regions of the globe. However, Europe has been subjected to some of the same price increases. This means the best course of action is to consider all options and explore them equally to come up with the best cost saving and effective solution.
When sourcing a second supplier, it is a good idea to source from a different area of the world, for example, if a source is in Asia, a backup in Europe could be useful in the unlikely event there is a repeat of the COVID-19 lockdowns and shipping problems of recent years.