Company Profile and History

For over 35 years, Vortex has supplied dry material handling valves to a global network of Original Equipment Manufacturers, Fortune 500 companies, and process engineering firms. Throughout the world, over 10,000 factories have utilized Vortex’s innovative slide gates, diverters, iris valves, and custom engineered products to improve process efficiency.

Vortex maintains technical service offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Vortex’s success comes from a philosophy, which includes focus on quality, timely customer service and, dedication to adding value to our clients’ processes.

1977 to 1989: Innovations in Process Efficiency

In 1977, Neil Peterson and Lee Young founded Vortex in Salina, Kansas – USA, based on a revolutionary idea. Neil, a mechanical and process engineer, knew that traditional butterfly valves and knife gates were originally designed for handling gas and liquid, however they had major deficiencies in handling dry solids.

Key Problems with Traditional Butterfly and Knife Gates when Handling Dry Solids
  • The disc of a butterfly valve creates an obstruction in material flow, causing dry material to bridge and/or degrade.

  • The soft seals utilized in butterfly valves and knife gates are highly susceptible to blast abrasion, causing material leakage when the valve is in the closed position.

  • Both butterfly valves and knife gates tended to pack dry material against the seals, preventing the valve from actuating to a fully closed position.

  • Replacement of the seals and wear parts created expensive downtime issues for processors, as the valves had to be removed from process line for maintenance.

Neil-PTo address all of these key issues, Neil designed the Orifice Gate Valve. The pneumatically actuated gate utilized a sliding stainless steel plate sandwiched between two hard polymer, wear-compensating seal plates. The sliding plate had a hole machined in it, matching the diameter of the conveying line, allowing dry material clear passage through the valve. The design also incorporated a shimming system, allowing factory maintenance personnel to perform simple adjustments to sealing tolerances while the valve remained in-line. Vortex also incorporated a variable position control package that allowed the valve to act as a metering device for material dosing or weighing applications.

In 1980, the company was awarded a patent on the Orifice Gate. This new valve design surpassed the industry’s expectations for handling dry materials. Chemical Processing Magazine awarded the Orifice Gate its “Vaaler Award”–judging it a major contributor toward more efficient and effective operation of plants in the chemical processing industry. This achievement changed the way process engineers selected valves for handling dry solids. Following the Orifice Gate, the unique Wye Line Diverter was conceived. The diverter applied the same design concepts of the Orifice Gate, dramatically improved process efficiencies when compared to traditional flapper or tunnel style diverters.

Benefits of the Wye Line Diverter versus traditional flapper, plug, or tunnel diverters:
  • Ordinary flapper-style diverter valves rely on elastic seals, which are exposed to blast abrasion causing them to erode and tear away in service. The Wye Line Diverter is designed so the seal plates are shielded from blast abrasion providing long, reliable service.
  • Rotating tunnel or plug-style diverter valves typically have seals which are exposed to excessive wear upon actuation and are prone to seizing and binding due to material buildup between the plug and the housing. The Wye Line Diverter is self-cleaning on each actuation and is designed for high cycle service.
  • Traditional cast iron diverter valves are heavy and bulky, increasing their installation costs. The compact design and low weight of the Wye Line Diverter is advantageous when installation is required in crowded or overhead equipment areas.
  • The Wye Line Diverter offers positive sealing in both vacuum and pressure conveying systems. The scissor material shearing action allows the valve to be reliably diverted on a stream of material.

The Roller Gate and Clear Action Gate were also conceived during this decade. Each new product added to the material handling capabilities of the Vortex line of gates and diverters. In 1989, Lee Young became CEO of the company in preparation for Neil’s retirement.

1990 to 1999: Becoming the Industry Standard

Under Lee’s direction Vortex continued to increase its market presence and expand its manufacturing facilities. Vortex introduced several new products throughout the 1990s:

  1. The Flex Tube Diverter was designed to improve safety and environmental concerns associated with typical tube diverters.
  2. The Gravity Vee Diverter offered a new dimension in gravity diverting, allowing the operator complete control of material flow.
  3. The Vortex Multi-Port Wye Line Diverter eliminated the need for hazardous and inefficient hose manifold stations.
  4. The Quick Clean Orifice Gate’s clean-in-place design allowed dairy, pharmaceutical, and pigment processors to utilize Vortex technology, without contamination concerns.

By focusing on customer needs, service, and on-time delivery, the company experienced aggressive growth throughout this decade. In 1999, Lee earned Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

2000 to Present: Expanding Capabilities and New Markets

Since 2000, Vortex has continued to increase its market share and develop innovative, patented products. Additional Industry recognition followed throughout the world:

  • In 2001, Vortex received another Vaaler Award for the Seal Tite Gravity Diverter. The Seal Tite Diverter was a significant design improvement over typical gravity flapper diverter, especially in the areas on service life and ability to seal the finest powders. The Seal Tite Diverter also received Processing Magazine’s Breakthrough Product of the Year and the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Best in Show Award for the 2001 International Powder Show.
  • By working closely with ready-mix cement companies, Vortex created the Aggregate Diverter to improve the service life of traditional bucket diverters. The original prototype has been in service for over three years without maintenance, a considerable improvement over its predecessor that only lasted six months.
  • Vortex’s Iris Valve product line received nine new patents for major design enhancements over traditional models.
  • In 2005, Vortex expanded its scope in handling tough applications with the patented HDP Slide Gate. The HDP’s distinctive “rising blade” allows the valve to seal demanding conveying pressures, as well as, handle sticky or abrasive dry solids. The design won Processing Magazine’s 2006 Breakthrough Product of the Year.

In 2006, Vortex built a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and office complex that spans over a 61,000 square meter campus. This new facility has allowed Vortex to introduce its new patented Quantum Series Valve designs, supported by leading-edge fabrication equipment and laser cutting technology. The introduction of the patented Quantum Series design is just another example of Vortex’s mission to provide its customers with the highest level of quality and efficiency in the dry solids industry.

In order to service the growing demand of its products in Europe and Asia, Vortex established technical offices in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and China, while contracting authorized agents in over 34 countries. In 2008 Vortex received the Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award, the highest business accolade in the state of Kansas, USA. Today, Vortex continues to successfully expand it global operations, by offering valve solutions for dry material production processes.

Vortex maintains ISO 9001:2008 Certified Quality Management Systems