Actuators and locations

When you want to automate a valve, you need to keep a variety of things in mind. Even those of us that do it all the time could miss something or assume someone else already took the location into account when specifying an actuator. So here is a checklist I recommend you keep in mind when having an actuator on a valve in an unusual location.

Renovations on plans can look clean, but the reality can be much different.

  1. Manual, Electric, or Pneumatic? If you rarely use the valve, a manual actuator is the default suggestion, unless it is a very difficult location to reach or is large and would take a long time to operate. If you do want to go with electric or pneumatic actuation, make sure you know the voltage, phase, and amperage required for electric, and the air pressure and SCFM available for pneumatic. Then also investigate if air or electric service is right for the location.
  2. Orientation? There are recommended orientations for valves in a pipeline, and limits to how the actuator can be placed to operate the valve. Go through this process ahead of time, especially in confined spaces or limited clearance locations. Trying to fix it later is a lot more expensive and time consuming.
  3. Environment? More than just if the area needs to be explosion proof or not. Will it ever flood in the location? If it does, what would you need to do to get everything going again?
  4. Owner use of the valve? Just because it is possible to operate a valve in a certain location or orientation, doesn’t mean it is what will make the owner happy. Best to approach this as soon as possible if there are options for the location and you think the owner may have a preference. Just because the handwheel may clear the floor by a few inches, doesn’t mean they want to operate it like that when they would much rather have it be at waist level.

Always be sure to go over your actuation plans with an actuator professional, and cover all the bases. You will be glad you did and everyone can then save time and money!

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