Control valves have a variety of purposes and are critical building blocks of industrial control systems. Generally, they control the pace of fluids, like chemicals, gas, or steam. This is done by changing the size of the flow passage based on signals from a controller. Doing this enables control of process quantities such as temperature and pressure.
Any manufacturing plant will consist of hundreds of different control loops to produce their products. They all interact with each other based on information obtained from sensors, and this information is processed by a controller. With so many things going on at once, load disturbances will inevitably occur. Once the controller has processed all necessary information, it will create a strategy to return variables back to the desired point before the disturbance. This strategy is carried out by control valves. They are a crucial part of product quality control, equipment maintenance, and safety.
In manufacturing, a “quality product” basically means a product that matches the plan. To make a high-quality product, there must be a high-quality process. This means there need to be as few variables in the manufacturing process as possible. While there are different elements to quality management, the control valve is part of the system focused on fulfilling quality requirements in the first place rather than checking them later.
Manufacturing plants produce everything from raw materials to completed products, and anything deemed lacking will be recycled or discarded. Control valves are where manufacturers should focus most of their resources to ensure this doesn’t happen. Fisher control valves are the leading product on the market and, while there are many different kinds of control valves, using the wrong one or the wrong size can have dire consequences for the operation. Small changes in valve positions will have a big effect on flow, and this is compounded when the wrong valve is used or a valve goes dead. This will result in product inconsistency, which simply can’t be allowed.
Control valves are among the most important aspects of processing, yet they are sometimes neglected. This is a crucial mistake, because it can easily harm on a plant’s bottom line. Control valves should be thoroughly inspected during maintenance checks, and it’s helpful to have control valve software to detect problems before they happen and assist in selecting the correct valve for a job. This is because there is actually an array of information you’ll need to choose the correct valve such as temperature of fluid, noise level, and valve body construction, just to name a few items. A plant with optimized control valves will have a much easier time operating at peak efficiency.
Control valves, of course, play a major role in manufacturing safety as well. Pressure flow being too high can have all sorts of adverse effects from the loosening of screws all the way to explosions. Too-high temperatures are also unsafe, and either of these being too low will result in defective product. Valves are also a main offender for fugitive emissions, which damage the environment. In some circumstances, control valves may be used to initiate a safety shutdown. Systematically closing off separate valves at the right time can bring production to a halt in case of an emergency. Of course, this should only be done if absolutely necessary, because ceased production is lost revenue that can take weeks or months to recover from.
With so many uses and effects on production, control valves should be treated with the utmost respect. This means adopting preventative maintenance practices, careful scheduled inspection, and committing to safety culture in the workplace.