When I walked out into our Service Center last week, I was surprised to see 5 extremely large gate valves sitting on the floor. According to our valve technician, he was going to be adding actuators to control the isolation valves. Though opening and closing the valves could be achieved by using the hand wheels that came with the valve, it would be extremely time consuming, and exhausting. I was told the hand wheel would need to make 3 complete revolutions to move 1”. On a 30” valve, that’s 90 turns, and I saw the hand wheel. It was massive, and heavy. The valve actuators we were adding would close the valve in 8 minutes, at the push of a button.
As the need for more streamlined and efficient processes become more prevalent, engineers and plant managers must look for ways to leverage technology available. Valve automation is one way to do so. There are a number of benefits for employing valve actuators, time is just one of them. Here are the 5 most popular reasons we hear.
Being able to remotely control a valve allows operators to stay safe. They’ll keep their hands from extreme hot or cold temperatures, and be able to stay out of bad environments, such as those with noxious gases.
In emergency situations, valve actuators go to fail safe positions, whether that’s fail open or fail close. Pneumatic actuators will use a spring return, while an electric actuator has a backup battery to allow for fail safe positioning. Either way, a valve actuator takes one thing off your mind when emergencies occur.
Valve actuators allow for greater control and visibility of the system. If you’re using a PLC or DCS type system, it’s easy to communicate with the valves, and get a feedback signal from the valve to confirm it is in the position you need it to be. When valves are manual, the door to operator error is left open.
INACCESSIBLE OR REMOTE VALVE LOCATION
Valve actuators are great for those valves you just can’t get to. Whether the valve is located high above you, down in a pit, underground, or even 5 miles off-site, if it’s actuated, you can control it.
There’s a great deal of cost savings to be had when a valve actuator is involved. A valve actuator is always in contact with its operator, ensuring the valve is open to just the right percentage. When manually adjusted, you run the risk of wasting materials, or ruined product due to operator error.
EXCESSIVE VALVE TORQUE
As you can imagine, large valves can be tough to close with a manual hand wheel. Fluid viscosity and velocity can have an impact on how much torque is needed to close the valve. Could every one of your operators close a 36” butterfly valve against rushing river water?
Setting your valve up with the appropriate valve actuators can make sure you have the right amount of force to turn or lift the valve every time.
If you’re looking to gain more control over your process, or are simply looking for ways to make it more efficient, you may want to take a closer look at valve actuators. With the right equipment in place, you can make what could be a time consuming, back-breaking, unpredictable chore, into a precise, reliable procedure.
Have a question about valve automation? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance on valve automation to businesses and municipalities in the United States.