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Headquartered in Upstate New York, with regional sites stationed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, Precision Valve & Automation (PVA) is a global supplier of conformal coating systems, innovative fluid dispensing solutions and precision valve technology. PVA is globally recognized as an industry leader in fluid dispensing and spray systems for adhesives, sealants and coatings. The company is a specialty manufacturer of automated and manual dispensing equipment, spray coating equipment, pumps and valves. Its selective conformal coating systems combine closed-loop process control, high levels of accuracy and repeatability for use in moderate to high-volume manufacturing environments. We recently met with Frank Hart, Managing Director of Sales/Marketing, to find out more about PVA, its notable achievements and future plans.

For readers who may be unfamiliar with PVA can you please tell us about the company? We understand that it was founded in 1992 and supplies conformal coating systems, dispensing solutions and valve technology.How has the company grown and evolved since it wasfounded three decades ago?

PVA remains a private, family-owned business that continues to develop innovative dispensing and coating solutions that help our customers remain competitive. Our product line has grown significantly over the years as applications become much more chemistryspecific. We currently have more than40 dispensing and spray valves in our product line. As we’ve grown, our global footprint has expanded significantly. We currently have application centers in China and in The Netherlands and over 40% of our products are exported annually.

How has PVA continued to stay successful anddifferentiate itself from competition, especially in the electronics and medical fields?

Flexibility has always been critical to PVA and differentiates us from many larger scale automation suppliers. Our solutions are never one size fits all. We listen to our customers and design solutions that best fit their production objectives.

Each market, project, and customer has different demands. It would not be unusual for an electronics manufacturing project to be designed around maximizing speed. That’s where our flexible platform sizes and gantry payload allow a myriad of options to scale the process by dispensing on multiple parts simultaneously. Conversely, you may find a medical application requiring a higher level of precision with a collection of process controls that actively monitor and report data on the application.

PVA has a reputation for valuing quality and customer service, which can be seen through the company’s attention to detail and dependability. How does this focus help PVA succeed?

Quality and exceptional customer service are the lifeblood of our success. We are in the business of trust. Our customers trust us with their most demanding applications. They trust us to deliver on time, every time, and to quickly respond to their needs so they can remain increasingly competitive. As a result, our customers consistently return to PVA to solve their dispensing and coating applications.

We understand that PVA has been growing and strengthening its presence in Mexico over the past few years with new hires. What does the company hope to accomplish in Mexico before the end of 2021?

Prior to the pandemic hitting in 2020, we significantly added to our application support staff in Mexico to meet increased demand in the region. Approximately 25% of our global automation installations are in Mexico alone so having the resources available to help our customers ensures that they are increasingly competitive by optimizing their process performance is paramount.

Mexico is a tremendously important region for PVA and we remain committed to expanding our operations in 2021 to include our fourth global application development center in Guadalajara.

In the medical and high-technology manufacturing industries especially, what main challenges do you face today that you did not 10 years ago?

There tends to be quite a bit more customization in these projects these days. Process flexibility remains one of our major competitive advantages, but we are seeing more applications designed around a single highvolume product that is optimized for that part. This is inclusive of the specific valve utilized, part handling, and process control.

On the flip side, what challenges do you foresee for these industries? Will PVA be ready to meet them?

I think we are going to continue seeing more of the same challenges that manufacturers in these industries have been seeking all along. Products are going to continue to get smaller. Cycle time requirements are going to be lower. These industries will push the limits of the robot’s capabilities. Solutions will remain increasingly custom to optimize production. Process control remains on the forefront and data acquisition for use in smart factories will be required. Yes, as the recognized technical leader in the dispensing and coating market, PVA is prepared to meet these demands.

How has COVID-19 affected PVA? We recall reading in the news that PVA was one of the first companies to step up to help with hand sanitizer, ventilators, test kits, 3D printed medical devices and more.

It’s been a whirlwind to say the least. COVID-19 has touched every part of our business. Being headquartered out of New York, it felt like we were pivoting plans on a daily basis for the longest time. The pandemic impacted our operations in China, The Netherlands, and eventually back home in the United States. To this day, we continue to work with a large portion of our staff remote to limit office density.

New York was hit hard early by the pandemic so we found ourselves in the middle of a number of initiatives to help throughout 2020. We started by supplying fluid delivery systems to distilleries that were converting their businesses to produce hand sanitizer. A ventilator shortage led us to design and manufacture the PreVENT Emergency Resuscitator, and PVA was the first worldwide manufacturer outside of the medical industry to receive FDA authorization. Our robotic dispensing systems were installed to help manufacture test kits and provide electronics protection for ventilators and air purifiers for first responders. Our team can be proud of the efforts we took in 2020 to help our community.

In your opinion, what are the most significant ways that the pandemic changed the way we do business today?

Coming from the sales side, it has had a tremendous impact on how we must approach our business. I’m personally closing in on one year without flying on an airplane. Virtually all of our sales activities have turned remote from Zoom meetings to videos. While we once had numerous visitors to PVA each week, our customers are not routinely traveling to New York. We have had to improve our online tools and now have a virtual equipment evaluation department. Visits to our customers’ sites have been limited and attendance at exhibitions are still on hold. Our marketing mix is now skewed heavily toward social media and digital content.

I believe many of these changes are going to be with us for quite awhile going forward. I expect our customers to appreciate the efficiency of virtual equipment buyoffs and continue to take advantage of that option. I expect similar in equipment evaluations. Remote access can bring attendees from multiple locations to one spot, understanding that often only one or two employees would be permitted to visit PVA. We are all going to have to adjust to a new norm.

What would you most like the industry to know about PVA?

Although known for our bestinclass selective conformal coating systems, PVA is routinely the supplier of choice for all underfill, gasketing, potting, thermal interface, two-component, and staking applications. As an original dispensing valve manufacturer, we have one of the most diverse lines of application heads in the world.