In terms of valve automation an actuator is a mechanical device used to open and close valves, they are used across all industrial sectors that need any form of piped media control. Typical examples of these flow lines can come as large cross continent oil and gas pipelines where remote emergency control is critical or down to much smaller food and manufacturing process plants where frequent sequential control is needed.
Actuators for valve automation are generally powered by electric or a means of fluid power (ie, pneumatic or hydraulic) and often feature a method moving to a nominated condition should there be a loss of power (ie, power fail close, or power fail open). The choose of operating medium is often dictated by what is available on site, predominantly the most popular choose of actuator is pneumatic as the operating media (compressed air) is widely available on most sites and the actuator is relatively ‘cheap’ in comparison to other types.
The most common types of actuators are rotary (¼ turn & multi-turn) and linear (straight push-pull). The ¼ turn actuator is used on the likes of ball, butterfly and plug valves. Multi-turn and linear actuators will operate gate and globe valves. There are other forms of specialised actuator to suit such things as multi-axis and hygienic valves, but these are certainly less common.
What Is Valve Automation?
Valve automation is the process of integrating automated systems with valves to control their operation remotely. It involves using actuators, controllers, and sensors to regulate valve positions and fluid or gas flow. By automating valve operations, it improves efficiency, accuracy, and safety in industrial processes. Actuators, such as pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric types, convert energy into mechanical motion to control the valve’s position. Controllers receive input signals and send commands to the actuators, while sensors provide feedback on valve parameters. Valve automation offers benefits like enhanced process efficiency, precise control, reduced human error, and integration into larger automated systems. It finds applications in various industries, including oil and gas, chemical processing, and power generation.