Advanced Actuation & Automation Processes in Gas Lines

Precision and safety are critical in the oil and gas industry. Automation using flow control valve actuators optimizes efficiency, modulates the flow of gas or liquid, increases safety for operators and decreases maintenance and operating costs over time. The automation industry has recognized that the function of actuators has moved beyond just opening and closing valves to providing key diagnostic and operational data via Bluetooth interfaces from sensors that measure pressure, torque and vibration. The types of actuators needed are dependent on a variety of factors.

Types of Valves

The types of valves controlled by the actuators determine the actuator used. The actuator must be matched to the following characteristics of the valves:

  • Function
  • Movement
  • Position

The frequency that the valves are used varies with the function of the valves. Those that open up or close off the flow completely for maintenance or safety reasons are used less frequently than those that continually modulate the flow of gas or liquid. Similarly, the movement of the valves varies with the type of valve, requiring actuation. Controls for ball valves require a swivel movement provided by a quarter-turn actuator, while a multi-turn actuator would enable the many turns required to open or close a valve.

Precision is key in oil and gas transmission and electric actuators can provide superior positioning accuracy. Position accuracy is important for control valves that modulate the flow during the various stages. From the initial flow of crude oil and natural gas to storage and transportation, then finally to the refining and distribution process, the valves modulate not only the flow rate and pressure through the various pipe diameters but the rate that the oil or gas is fed into the various processes along the way.


The more processes involved, the more actuators are needed to manage the complexity of the system. We recommend you work closely with your electric actuator manufacturer to help configure a solution that is right for your needs. Sensor technology has expanded the use of flow control valve actuators to allow for monitoring in real-time and integration into IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). Much like the smart electronics being used in factories and homes, the controls for ball valves have embraced smart technology to deliver improved flow control. Integration with supervisory control systems enables next-generation processes such as asset management on a plant-wide scale and optimized maintenance control and scheduling. Integrated operations combined with wireless communication provide operational information at a faster rate, allowing more processes to be managed with fewer resources but with increased accuracy, efficiency and response time.

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