The Increasingly Important Role of Industrial Valve Actuators

Industrial Valve Actuators

Valves are critical components of industries that provide the backbone of the modern world. Because valves are standard in engineering, mechanics, and science, each valve must perform to a specific standard. The valve actuator is as crucial to the valve as the valve is to the industry in which it operates.  

Actuators are powered devices that move valves between open and closed states; the actuators can be controlled manually or as part of an automated control loop. The actuator responds to a remote control signal. Valve types can be closed, fully open, or somewhere in between, depending on the valve and actuator combination. Current actuation technology enables remote indication of valve position as well as other diagnostic and operational data. Regardless of its power source, whether electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, or another, all actuators create either linear or rotating motion when controlled by a control source. 

Multiple valves in a process system are operated in a coordinated manner thanks to actuators; imagine if engineers in a vast industrial environment had to change every valve through a hand wheel or lever physically! While such a manual system may produce jobs, it is, unfortunately, logistically and economically impractical. Actuators make it possible to automate valve action. 

Pneumatic actuators use air pressure as a driving force to adjust the position of a valve. Hydraulic actuators are devices that rely on pressurized fluids. Electric actuators, whether motor-driven or solenoid-driven, use electricity to move the valve trim into position. Changes in valve position provide the needed response to maintain the desired process condition. Signals from controllers constantly monitor the process and evaluate inputs, subsequently adjusting the actuator's motion.

Manual valve operation and regulation are becoming less common as automation gains traction across many industries. Valve actuators serve as the link between control intelligence and physical valve movement. The timeliness and automation advantages of valve actuators also serve as enormous assistance in risk mitigation. Severe tragedies in either environmental conditions or a facility can be pre-empted and rapidly stopped as long as the system is functioning correctly. Manual actuators rely on the hand operation of levers, gears, or wheels in general. Still, valves that are frequently changed (or that exist in remote areas) benefit from an automatic actuator with an external power source for various practical reasons, most notably being located in an impractical area for manual operation or complicated by hazardous conditions. 

Actuators serve as industrial keystones to one of the essential control elements of industries worldwide due to their variety and tiered usage. Valves are vital building blocks of industrial processes, just as industries are the backbones of society, with actuators serving as an invaluable device assuring both safe and precise functioning.

Swanson Flo produces tested, certified, and exceptionally reliable actuated valves for fully automated essential valve systems with optimum fit, highest performance, and most extended life. Swanson Flo professionals combine decades of experience and knowledge with a wide range of readily available components that are carefully selected to provide customers with the highest quality and value possible.

Swanson Flo
https://swansonflo.com
800-288-7926

Benefits and Drawbacks of Electric Valve Actuators in Process Control

Electric Valve Actuators

Electric actuators use electricity to operate a valve. While most of the basic principles utilized in electric actuators have been present since the 1930s, decades of incremental progress have considerably enhanced their capability while lowering their cost. These advancements have reached a tipping point in recent years, making electric actuators the preferred choice for many applications. 

There are many advantages to electric valve actuation. Electricity is relatively cheap, simple to control, and usually available at most industrial sites. Electric actuators often have a lower capital cost per equivalent unit of torque/thrust production. They are also more environmentally friendly and safer to use. Electric actuators can provide higher positioning accuracy for control or modulating valve tasks and options for extensive process monitoring, data logging, and information feedback. Electric actuators include all necessary control functions, lowering capital expenditures. By enabling distributed control, the electric actuator's considerable cost in wiring is cut—through efficient and straightforward control logic through integrating control commands and feedback into customer SCADA or DCS systems. (Traditional electromechanical control systems require a distinct wire for each command and feedback signal, resulting in cable bundles with at least seven cores for each actuator.

On the other hand, a standard bus system can use one twisted pair wire in a daisy chain configuration to transport all required input and output signals.) Electric actuators weigh less and have smaller footprints than pneumatic actuators as torque and thrust requirements increase. Finally, electric actuators can generate exceptionally high output thrust and torque values in conjunction with external gears. 

There are also some disadvantages to electric valve actuation to note. Except for a few specific combinations, electric actuators cannot ensure a fail-safe stroke. Still, they will "fail in the last position"  - the ability of an actuator to move a valve to a specified safe position when power ceases is known as fail-safe stroke. Electric actuators contain more sophisticated and delicate components than other forms of actuators. Electronic technology likewise necessitates regular updating to stay up with component changes and advances. Compared to pneumatic and hydraulic actuators, electric actuators are less cost-effective and have operating speed restrictions beyond a specific size/torque range. Electric actuators require more rigorous certifications and construction features to be regarded safe for usage in hazardous regions with potential exposure to explosive process material. 

For more information about electric valve actuation, contact Swanson Flo. Call them at 800-288-7926 or visit their web site at https://swansonflo.com.

Is Your Ashcroft Pressure Gauge Off Zero? Here's Why and How to Fix It

New, open front stainless steel dry or liquid-filled pressure gauges straight out of the box can surprise you with a pointer that is off zero. This may lead you to think that the gauge is defective.

In fact it may just be that the pressure trapped inside the gauge case is higher or lower than the surrounding atmosphere.

Most Ashcroft open front gauges are equipped with a top vent plug. This permits you to open the gauge case allowing the inside and outside pressures to equalize.

Venting or burping gauges with ranges 200 psi and above should not be required.

Before installation, stand the gauge upright to eliminate gravitational effect on the bourdon tube and pointer. 

Make sure to prevent fluid leakage if the gauge is liquid filled.

Locate the pop-up plug on top and simply pull up the blue stopper.

To prevent inaccuracy due to zero offset in dry areas, the vent plug can be left open, however this practice should be limited to dry areas because it will lower the ingress rating to IP54 and risk water infiltrating the gauge.

Ashcroft pressure gauges come in various sizes, accuracies, and range from 0 – 10 in. H2O through 0-100,000 psi. Choices include differential pressure gauges, test gauges, sanitary gauges, high-purity gauges, subsea gauges, digital pressure gauges, OEM pressure gauges, and more. Ashcroft pressure gauges are known for high quality and reliability and are available to fit nearly any budget and application requirement.

For more information about Ashcroft products, contact Swanson Flo. Call 800-288-7926 or visit https://swansonflo.com.

O-Ring Style Stem Seal Sanitary Process Control Valves for Cosmetic, Dairy and Food and Beverage Industries

O-Ring Style Stem Seal Sanitary Process Control Valve

The Steriflow FBCV O-Ring Series meets the rigid specifications for sanitary process control valves for customers who prefer an O-ring style stem seal. This valve series is suitable for various cosmetic, dairy, and food and beverage industries. Conforming to 3A guidelines, the FBCV is ideal for a wide range of flowing media in sanitary systems' utility and process areas.

The FBCV-OR's high rangeability, characterized trim, high capacities, superior temperature and pressure ratings, and a selection of sealing methods make the sanitary control valve ideal for liquid, gas, and steam services. Whether the need is to control pressure, temperature, flow, pH, or another variable, the FBCV is the correct valve for your process.

For more information, contact Swansonflo. Call 800-288-7926 or visit https://swansonflo.com.

The RealStream™ Lift Station Solution

RealStream™ Lift Station Solution

The RealStream™ Lift Station solution is a fully configurable lift station controller and display that enables monitoring and control of lift stations leveraging the Schneider Electric SCADAPack™ E Smart RTU technology. The RealStream™ supports the control of up to four pumps. This easy-to-deploy solution allows standardization of collection network assets and can improve the equipment's visibility and life. The RealStream™ Solution includes a RealStream Lift Station Controller and a Graphic Display Terminal.

LEARN MORE AT SWANSONFLO.COM/REALSTREAM

Swanson Flo High Purity Valves, Instruments & Process Equipment

Swanson Flo maintains our position as an industry leader in high purity valves and instrumentation by partnering with the world's top manufacturers and satisfying customers with unmatched project success.

Swanson Flo
https://swansonflo.com
800-288-7926

Swanson Flo - An Industry Leader in Process Automation with a Long History of Unmatched Project Success

Swanson Flo

Founded in 1960, Swanson Flo has long maintained our position as an industry leader in process automation with unmatched project success leveraging industry preferred products and services.

Our team of skilled experts is uniquely equipped to rapidly apply resources and skills for the maximum benefit of our clients. We continue to adapt new technologies and solutions to build solid client partnerships.

Our mission is to provide innovative process control solutions for engineers, managers and maintenance professionals through quality equipment and experienced application engineering. These efforts combined with excellent aftermarket service yield reduced operating costs and improved production.

1960 Thomas B Swanson Co.
Tom B. Swanson saw a need for innovative technical products for industrial applications that was being underserved by the large PVF wholesale houses.  Tom started a rep company focusing on new specialty and engineered products.

1974 Swanson Flo-Systems Co.
Tom Swanson and his business partner, Dick Westphal, saw that industrial processes were changing from manual operation to automated systems and solutions to improve quality and gain efficiencies.  This forward thinking and vision inspired a new business model of actuation and fabrication to service their customers’ needs, providing automated solutions, while providing a high degree of technical support and customer focus.

1989 Evolution of Swanson Flo Systems
Expands our integration of products by adding control valves and specialty valves to their quality, technical product offering.

1991 Tom Howe acquired Thomas B Swanson equity.
Tom Howe and Dick Westphal continue to serve their customers with a vision to provide full control loop solutions and application engineering experience to the growing market by integrating our products to help customers develop more efficient, productive, and profitable process solutions.

1992 - Acquired Control Dynamics, Co.
The acquisition of Control Dynamics Co. added experienced personnel and additional instrumentation lines including Foxboro and Badger Meter Co. This addition allowed Swanson to provide experienced, technical personnel to assist in the evaluation, specification and application of valves and instrumentation for projects and customer needs.

2001 – Acquired Power Supply and Engineering Co.
Swanson Flo acquires PSE adding Ashcroft instrumentation and additional technical salespeople.

2001 – Acquired Limitorque Actuation Line
Swanson Flo continues their commitment to customers by adding an expanded automation offering with Limitorque.  This acquisition created a shift to incorporating services to our product portfolio.  Additional square footage was added to handle the services requirement.  Expanding in-house repair and field service, and remanufacture electric actuators across the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, and Western Wisconsin. 

2002 - Acquired Process Sales Inc., Wisconsin
Swanson Flo expands eastward into Wisconsin.  Adding Masoneilan Control Valves and Foxboro Instrumentation to the entire state.

2005 - Launched BioFuels Automation Co.
BioFuels Automation becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Swanson Flo launching the first exclusive renewable fuels focused automation company to serve this rapidly growing industry.  Providing a complete solution for automating newly constructed ethanol plants for the future.

2007 - Acquired Failsafe Company
Swanson Flo expands into more quality technical products and experienced people for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

2013 - Acquired Valves and Automation Inc.
Swanson Flo adds Limitorque Electric Actuation across Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, with an expansive shop to repair, assemble and remanufacture electric actuators. 

2014 - Acquired Process Sales Inc.
Swanson Flo expands with Masoneilan Control Valves and Foxboro Instrumentation across Upper Illinois and Indiana with full control valve service, repair, and assembly facility.

2016 - Acquired Tech Sales and Marketing - Indiana
Swanson Flo grows in Indiana with additional lines and technical salespeople focused on quality products and customer service.

2021 – Swanson Flo is acquired by MCE to continue to service our customers with an extended offering of highly-engineered, technical solutions by providing leading process control products and services.

For Immediate Release: Motion & Control Enterprises acquires Swanson Flo

Motion & Control Enterprises acquires Swanson Flo

Acquisition Extends Offering of Highly-Engineered, Technical Solutions Offering by Providing Leading Flow Control Products and Services

With its second acquisition in the last month, Motion & Control Enterprises (“MCE”) announced on Feb. 4th that it has acquired Swanson Flo, Co. (“Swanson Flo”), a regional distributor of process instrumentation, flow control valves, actuators, and related equipment. Swanson Flo also provides critical value-added services including actuated valve assemblies, field services and shop repairs.

Based in Plymouth, MN, Swanson Flo employs 92 associates, servicing industrial and municipal markets in 13 states in the upper Midwest and beyond. That company has 4 warehouse locations in Plymouth, MN; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL and Indianapolis, IN. As a division of MCE, Swanson Flo will continue to operate under the Swanson Flo name with the same leadership team, employees, and suppliers.

“The addition of Swanson Flo extends our offering of highly-engineered, technical solutions offering by providing leading flow control products and services”, said Charles Hale, Chairman & CEO of MCE. “Swanson Flo brings longstanding customer relationships and supplier partnerships, plus a highly regarded team of flow control experts. We welcome the Swanson Flo team to MCE and are looking forward to accelerated growth and continuing to bring innovative solutions to our customers.”

“The Swanson Flo team is excited to join with MCE”, said Tom Howe, CEO, and majority owner of Swanson Flo. “Our teams share a similar philosophy of providing the customer with a wide range of technical products, services and solutions. Together, we will be even better positioned to meet the ever-increasing needs of our customers and principals. With Swanson Flo’s leadership, locations and team members remaining intact, we look forward to a seamless transition.”

About Motion & Control Enterprises

Founded in 1951, MCE is a leading supplier of technical fluid power and lubrication solutions that solve customer problems across fluid connector, hydraulic, pneumatic, filtration, compressed air and lubrication technologies. The company services more than 15,000 MRO and OEM customers from 9 distribution centers and 16 retail locations across PA, MI, IN, IL, OH and WI. For more information, please visit www.mceautomation.com.

MCE is majority owned by Frontenac, a Chicago-based private equity firm that invests in middle market buyout transactions in the consumer, industrial and services markets. For more information, please visit www.frontenac.com.

About Swanson Flo

Founded in 1960, Swanson Flo provides innovative process and flow control solutions through quality equipment, experienced application expertise and a full suite of lifecycle services. For more information, please visit www.swansonflo.com.

The SCG Indu-Tech Level Transmitter Isolation Valve

Universal Mounting

The isolation valve has independent bolting patterns to mount the valve to the tank and the level transmitter. Separate mounting plates ensure a safe working environment when removing a level transmitter from the tank during routine operations.

Thin Cross Section

The isolation valve features a thin cross-section, ensuring the level transmitter is as close as possible to the process tank for better measurement accuracy.

Lever Handle with Simple Lock Out

The isolation valve includes a 90-degree ¼ turn on/off lever handle. With no exposed apparatus on the handle, operators can open or close on demand, even in situations of long term inactivity.

Light Weight and Compact

The Indu-Tech isolation valve weighs under 20lbs (9kg) and is straight forward to install, even in confined spaces that are difficult for larger valve designs. Installation does not require mechanized lifting gear.

Bubble Tight Seal

The isolation valve features a close-captured seated ball design, ensuring that the process medium does not build up internally as commonly experienced with open cavity ball valves. Every valve passes strict quality standards for a bubble-tight design before shipment.

Swanson Flo
800-288-7926
https://swansonflo.com