Monday, August 31, 2015

Valve Actuator IQ Suffering? This Information Library Can Help.

IQ Series Electric Valve Actuator
Courtesy Rotork
For any component of your industrial process, there is a manufacturer that knows all about how to properly and safely apply, service, maintain, and repair it. The devices we employ to measure and control industrial processes and machines grow increasingly numerous and complex. While this provides operators with greater amounts of useful information, leading to safer and more efficient process operation, the burden on engineers and technicians tasked with coaxing maximum uptime and efficiency from the process grows. Never before has continuing education, even relearning of basic knowledge, been so important. One manufacturer has invested in helping customers and other industrial process control stakeholders keep their operation and maintenance knowledge current.

Rotork, a global manufacturer of industrial valve actuators, maintains extensive online information sources that are accessible to registered users. The instructional and educational assets include online course applications, videos, and other materials to familiarize the user with various aspects of Rotork actuators, their proper application, operation, and maintenance. The large library of "How to" videos provides clear instruction on the safe operation and application of the Rotork actuators, along with step-by-step instruction on how to perform the range of operations involved with obtaining the greatest benefit of ownership. Process engineers, operators, and technicians will all benefit from the assets, enabling them to interface with the products with the confidence that comes from knowledge.

Contact your Rotork distributor for instructions and assistance in gaining free access to the educational tools.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Innovative Magnetic Level Gauge Provides Accurate Indication Under Adverse Conditions

Jerguson Magnetic Level Gauge
Magnetic Level Gauge on Tank
Courtesy Jerguson
We, as engineers, industrial process operators and stakeholders, recognize the necessity and value of a continuous stream of accurate and timely information about our processes. Our experience has also taught us that the environment and activities surrounding our installations can have a significant impact upon our ability to continually gather accurate process measurements. Some of our concerns include:

  • Weather - An element whose impact cannot be understated....or easily predicted.
  • Physical Contact - Equipment and measurement devices must be protected from damaging impact.
  • Security - Vandalism, cyber invasion, and other external threats are possible

Our responsibility, as operators of machines and handlers of materials that can produce hazardous or life threatening conditions in the case of failure or error, is to foresee every reasonably probable event that could adversely impact the safe and proper operation of our industrial processes.

One manufacturer has developed an innovative solution to a potential problem in the application of magnetic level controls.

The short video below outlines the source of the potential failure and the way in which the product design change successfully overcomes a potentially adverse impact on process measurement. Invest less than three minutes of your time to watch the video and build your application knowledge by learning from the experience of others. Do not hesitate to contact a product application specialist for more detail, or to discuss your process measurement needs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rotork Skilmatic Valve Actuators Enhance Performance and Safety


Valve Actuator
Electro-Hydraulic Valve Actuator
Courtesy Rotork
Incorporating levels of performance and safety into industrial fluid handling systems presents ever increasing challenges to those designing, owning, and operating those systems. Rotork Fluid Systems developed the Skilmatic line of valve actuators to provide the positioning performance, operational safety, and data connectivity needed for best-in-class implementation of industrial process control valves.

The Skilmatic range of self-contained electro-hydraulic actuators combine the precision of hydraulic control, the simplicity of electrical operation, and the reliability of mechanical fail-safe action into a single integrated product. In addition to general purpose, flameproof, and modulating versions of the actuators, Rotork offers intelligent versions of the product that deliver improved control and monitoring functions:

  • Datalogger recording of events, trends, alarms.
  • Bluetooth connectivity for data download and upload between actuator and Rotork’s InSight2 software.
  • Semi-automatic position limit calibration.
  • Partial stroke operation.
  • Improved position control for modulating operations.
  • Valve flow characterization for modulating control with various valve attributes, such as equal %, linear, and more.
  • Manual override detection.
  • Alarm output relays with selectable function.
  • Internal temperature sensor.

The actuators are available in a myriad of configurations to suit every application. A wide range of standard arrangements are offered, along with custom versions configurable to provide a specific solution demanded for a special application. A deeper profile and description of the product line, principals of operation, and operational benefits is available from a product specialist, who can also assist with selecting and configuring the right unit for your project or application.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Electric Boilers - When Are They the Best Choice as a Steam Source

Industrial electric boiler
Electric Boiler
Courtesy Williams & Davis Boilers
Commercial and industrial boiler applications are diverse, with more to be considered than fuel costs alone. There can be instances where other operational or procurement criteria can override fuel costs as a determining factor in boiler selection. Sometimes, an electric boiler may be the best overall choice for a project or application.

Electric boilers are comparatively simple devices. They will resemble their combustion heated cousins in practically all aspects related to the the handling of water and steam. Where they differ is the means of heating.

Electric boilers have bundles of electric heaters immersed in the water to be converted to steam. Electrical switching gear and controls that regulate the operation of the heaters in response to steam demand will likely be mounted integrally to the unit. What will be missing is all the hardware needed for fuel storage, delivery, regulation, and ignition, along with a host of other items needed for the presence and handling of a combustible fuel supply and removal of the products of fuel combustion.

Let's look at some points that may prove advantageous for an electric boiler installation.

Electric boiler cutaway view
Cutaway View of Electric Boiler
Courtesy Williams & Davis Boilers 
  • Small steam requirements: Installations with highly localized or small scale requirements for steam may benefit from the lower complexity of an electric boiler installation.
  • Intermittent operation: Electric boilers are very easy to start and stop.
  • Shortened project timeline: The installation of an electric boiler generally does not have as many infrastructure requirements as those utilizing combustible fuels, allowing for reduced time between project inception and completion. 
  • Reduced installation costs: No need for the provision or storage of combustible fuel and the associated operational and safety infrastructure. In some jurisdictions, it is permissible to locate an electric boiler in proximity to the steam consuming device, reducing costs for piping. 
  • Reduced maintenance requirements: Electric boilers have almost no moving parts, no flue, no burners, no fuel system, and none of the hardware, maintenance, or regular inspections associated with combustion safety.
  • Operation of electric boilers is comparatively quiet.
If your application can benefit from some of these potential advantages of electric boiler installation, an analysis of the longer term costs may be in order. The generally reduced energy cost of combustion based systems may, at some point, make them a better choice. With your steam production and demand requirements in hand, contact a boiler specialist that can provide both electric and combustion heated systems and chart out the tangible and intangible benefits of several options. The right choice will be revealed with a careful analysis.

Friday, August 7, 2015

When a Ball Valve is the Right Choice

Industrial Ball Valve Cutaway View
Cutaway View of Industrial Ball Valve
Courtesy of Flowserve Atomac
Industrial fluid handling and process control rely on valves to regulate the pressure and control the flow rate and direction of a wide variety of liquids and gases. There can be highly sensitive or specialized performance requirements, along with additional needs for corrosion resistance and an ability to withstand extreme fluid or environmental temperatures. Selecting the proper valve can be a challenging and time consuming operation for a new or updated process. Taking an initial step of narrowing the field of potential candidates to those with basic operational and construction characteristics that will be advantageous to your process requirements will move you quickly toward an effective selection.

Industrial valves for flow control are often grouped and referred to by their closure mechanisms. Common types include ball, plug, butterfly, globe, and gate. Each type has attributes making it more suitable to certain applications. Start your selection process by choosing a valve type that will provide the type of service needed. Let’s look at ball valves.

Ball valves are named for the generally spherical shaped element encased in the valve body and placed directly in the fluid flow path. The ball has a hole, or port, through it’s center that allows fluid to pass when the port is aligned with the direction of flow. The stem, attached to the ball and extending to the exterior of the valve body, that can be rotated through a 90 degree arc manually, or utilizing a powered actuator. At one extreme of the arc, the port is perpendicular to the flow path and fluid flow is completely obstructed and shut off. Rotating the stem ninety degrees from the closed position will align the port with the flow direction in the fully open position.

What are some potential advantages of ball valves?

Ball Valve - Mogas Industries
Interior of Ball Valve
Courtesy of  Mogas Industries
  • Well suited for applications requiring either full flow or no flow.
  • Quarter turn operation provides a rapid transition from open to closed position.
  • Leak-proof service.
  • Force required to drive the valve stem is comparatively moderate.
  • No lubrication required and maintenance is minimal.
  • Comparatively light weight and compact, reduced installation space and support requirements.
  • When fully open, the port provides little resistance to flow with a straight through path.

What are some potentially concerning attributes?

  • Residual amounts of the process fluid may be trapped in the port when the valve is closed, then released to the fluid stream when the valve is opened. Potential contamination impact should be considered.
  • Ball valves are not well suited for throttling of the flow. Partially open ball valves expose seals and sealing surfaces to effects of the fluid velocity and potentially corrosive nature of the fluid. Additionally, the basic construction and operation of the ball and port generally do not provide variable flow control as well as some other valve types.
  • Valve seals, most often elastomertic materials, may not be compatible with fluid characteristics. Consider temperature, corrosiveness, and other fluid characteristics for compatibility with the seal material.

These general points are intended to get you thinking about your valve application in a productive and efficient manner. There may be particular ball valve variants that overcome potential shortcomings listed in this article. Talk to a valve specialist about your application. Their recommendation, based upon high level product knowledge and experience with numerous applications, will be a valuable addition to your decision making.