Valves are mechanical devices that help regulate and control flow inside a system. Valves are used in almost every industry to control the flow of wastewater, abrasives, slurries, corrosive chemicals, or other fluids. These are designed to partially or fully open or close the flow of liquids or gas passing through the pipe system. The major valves that allow them to control the flow of fluids are the valve handles that are moved either anticlockwise or up/ down to control the liquid flow. Valve handles are also referred to as actuators. These are used to control a valve from outside the valve body manually. Though it is an era of automation and most valves operate automatically, they still come with an actuator or handle to override the automatic control manually.
Different actuators are available these days, which differ based on their functionality and type of operation in various industries. The actuator or handle consists of a box with an output and input mechanism that manages the valve’s opening and closing. The valve’s handle plays a significant role in determining the valve’s overall performance. To help you further understand the importance of an actuator, here are the common functions of an actuator:
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Different functions of an actuator
Different actuators perform a few essential functions, and they are as follows:
Helps maintain the closure element’s position: This is an actuator’s primary function. The valve handle or actuator ensures that the closure element stays in place.
Operates the closure element: The actuator is a device that provides the necessary force to move and position the closure element.
Provides adequate rotational capabilities: Valve handles provide proper rotation capabilities, generally 90 degrees or 180 degrees depending on its rotation type.
Seating the valve with sufficient torque: In some applications, actuators require unique components to sustain enough torque and maintain closed positions.
Having a failure mode: The failure mode of a handle comes into play when the system fails or power failure to ensure that the system does not experience excessive damage.
Now, as you know the different functions of a valve handle, you need to choose one with diligent research and consideration. So before you plunge deep into it, read on and familiarise yourself with the different types of valve handles.
Different types of valve handles or actuators
Before you choose a valve actuator for your pipe system, you first need to learn the types of actuators available to you. So here are the different types of valve actuators:
Rotary valve actuator: As the name suggests, these are used in systems requiring a quarter-turn operation. The ball valves, butterfly valves, and plug valves fall into this category of valves. These handles produce a rotational motion and make a quarter-turn to open or close the valve
Linear valve actuator: These actuators produce a linear motion to control the valve. These are entirely different from rotary valve actuators and are generally used in pinch valves, gate valves, globe valves, and diaphragm valves. You can think of them as a sliding stem design in which you push the closure element to open and close the valve.
Pneumatic valve actuator: The pneumatic valve handles are the most popular as they are versatile. These cylindrically shaped machinery provide a quarter-turn operation to the valves by providing a few inch pounds of torque and millions of inch pounds to small valves. These electrical actuators come with an extra spring to shut down in sudden power cuts.
Your right choice of valve actuator for your industrial purposes will depend on valve operation, and the type of power applied. Hence to gain more productivity and efficiency in the process industry, assess your valve operation and choose the right handle.