Asset management in the water industry - the valve actuator`s perspective


Courtesy of Rotork plc

Sector: Water & Effluent Treatment
Category: Electric Actuators, Control Networks, Services
Products: IQ3 Standard, IQ Insight 2, Pakscan, Retrofit

The water and effluent treatment industries have not been slow to recognise the benefits of effective asset management resulting from the gathering and analysis of accurate and relevant data from out in the plant. The data identifies the condition of the equipment and gives the operator a real-time view of the plant. Monitoring the data over time enables the operator to avoid unplanned interruptions and plan efficient maintenance programmes in advance. Efficient plant operation is important from not only the fiscal aspect; it also plays a significant environmental role by preventing potential problems including accidents and spillages.

In water and effluent treatment environments, large numbers of valves and their critical function of controlling the flow of media through the plant process have made them a focus of attention for the gathering of this information. The condition of the valves is a fair reflection on the condition of the overall plant, so a great deal of benefit can be gained if the valve actuator can keep the operator informed and updated about the state of the valve that it is operating. This explains that whilst the well-proven mechanical designs of actuators have changed only marginally over the last decades, their functional capabilities have rapidly advanced, embracing innovations and features enabled by electronics and digital communication technologies.

As well as operating the valve, Rotork's latest IQ actuators are now also able to look after it by collecting and storing information about its performance and condition and displaying this data locally or communicating it to the control centre where it can be analysed and diagnosed. Rotork has been a pioneer in the evolution of this technology. Providing further improvements to 'a view of the plant' has therefore been at the top of the list of functional priorities for the company's recently launched third generation IQ intelligent electric actuator range.

In the early years of actuator development, much of Rotork's attention concentrated on environmental sealing, leading to the introduction of O-rings to keep moisture and dirt away from electrical equipment inside the actuator. Beginning with reversing contactor starters and relays, this enabled an increasing number of electrical components to be housed in the actuator enclosure in the pre-electronic, pre-digital eras. The success of this philosophy also assisted the development of the first intelligent electronic valve actuator in 1992. The first IQ was a breakthrough product, introducing electronic torque and limit sensing, non-intrusive setting technologies and the first generation of data logging and diagnostic capabilities.

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