If you run a factory, you likely have multiple strategies in place to boost your energy efficiency. Many factory managers just pay attention to the big systems such as lighting and HVAC. However, to truly create an efficient environment, you have to pay attention to the small things such as valve actuators as well.
Here's a look at some ways that you can make your valve actuators more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly.
1. Opt for Electric Actuators
The quest for energy efficiency starts when you are shopping for your machinery. If possible, look for equipment that is proven to be efficient. Talk with the manufacturer about the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and how that will affect the machine's energy consumption in the long run.
Then, hone in on the actuator. The two main options are pneumatic and electric. Pneumatic actuator valves use a puff of air to open and close. This process takes up more energy than it needs. In contrast, an electric actuator uses a small volt of current to function, and that ultimately uses less energy than the alternative.
2. Talk With the Manufacturer About the Watts
Once you've narrowed in an electric actuators, you need to consider how many watts the actuators use. In the past, most electric valve actuators used at least 1 watt of power. Now, however, manufacturers can create valves that perform the exact same function with less than a watt of energy.
Although the difference seems small, over days and weeks and years of use, it adds up, and these small differences can reduce the power needed to run your machinery.
3. Regulate the Compressed Air in Use
In some cases, even if you use an electric valve actuator, there will still be compressed air involved in the process. To save energy, audit the amount of air in use and make sure that you are not using more than you need. Then, adjust the pressure accordingly.
To explain, imagine you have a cylinder that extends and retracts. When it extends, it has to move a load, but when it retracts, it doesn't have to move anything but itself. In cases like this, the valve needs more power when it is extending. It doesn't need that much support when it is retracting. If you adjust the valve accordingly, you can reduce the amount of pressure released (and hence the amount of power used) during retraction and keep the pressure steady for extension.
4. Assess the Operational Effectiveness of Existing Valves
On a regular basis, you should audit how your actuator valves work, and you should assess whether or not you are using the most effective valves. If not, you should try alternatives that work differently until you find the option that works the best for your purposes.
To illustrate, imagine a dust cleaning machine in a factory. These machines collect dust in filters or bags, and to function correctly, they have to shake the dust out of the filter. To facilitate this process, most of these machines use actuator valves.
However, the type of valve can have a huge impact on how effective the process is. For example, if you use a valve that opens slowly, the air moves slowly into the machinery. In contrast, if you use an actuator valve that opens quickly, the air bursts into the machine. In this situation, the quick burst of air is more effective at shaking the dust loose from the filters than the slow burst of air.
To learn more about choosing the most efficient actuator valves or for help auditing the energy usage of your current valves, contact a manufacturer or valve salesperson directly. For more information, contact a company like ETI Systems.