Pneumatic actuators are the workhorse of many industrial manufacturers and process plants. A pneumatic actuator failure can cause major problems, leading to production downtime, costly repairs, and lost production. We've looked at some of the causes of pneumatic actuator failure, the signs to look out for, and what you can do to ensure your business has fail-safe actuators.
What Are the Known Causes of Pneumatic Actuator Failure?
Pneumatic actuators can exhibit a range of symptoms when something goes wrong, but there are some common problems that can cause a pneumatic actuator to fail. These are some core areas where problems can arise, but can be identified by understanding key components and their operation:
Actuator Ports Clogged with Contaminants – Accumulated moisture and/or particles in the system may coalesce in the area surrounding the actuator ports, severely impacting flow.
Excessive Condensation in the System - Corrosion from moisture buildup can collect in ports and cylinders. Over time, this can lead to loss of actuator pressure and even damage to the stem and seals.
Problematic Seals – Over time, seals can wear or become damaged from contamination within the system. Extrusion can also be a problem if the actuator is not to the specifications required for the job, or if the seals are not maintained.
Undersizing – Actuators with overloaded actuators will damage seals more quickly due to overpressure, may have alignment issues, and may fail completely if physical damage occurs.
What Are the Signs That Your Pneumatic Actuator Is Failing?
An actuator can show many signs that there is a problem in a particular area, so it is important to monitor your pneumatic actuator, maintain it properly, and be aware of symptoms that may indicate that something needs repair or some care and attention. Some signs that could lead to a pneumatic actuator failure include:
- Rod or cylinder scored
- Unstable load movement
- Cylinder drift
- Actuator stuck in fully open or closed position
- Seal extrusion
- Moisture buildup around accessories
How to Prevent the Pneumatic Actuator from Malfunctioning?
The ultimate solution for any processing plant is to have a fail-safe actuator that is guaranteed to work under all conditions regardless of usage levels, maintenance schedules, and operating environment. However, pneumatic actuator failures are rarely due to poor manufacturing, and the path to fail-safe actuators depends on how you handle and maintain the equipment. Some of our tips for avoiding pneumatic actuator failures are:
- Use and maintain filters appropriate for your operating environment.
- Check all piping regularly and replace any faulty parts as soon as possible.
- Ensure that the actuators and ancillary equipment you purchase meet the specifications for the intended task.
- Regular maintenance and care of your pneumatic actuator.
Pneumatic actuator failures can be avoided when you consider the process by which you purchase equipment and consider its operating environment, operational expectations, and likely loads and usage. Once used, most likely through regular servicing, replacement of filters and any damaged seals, and knowledge of fail-safe actuators
It is up to your operators to be aware of the various signs that may indicate a problem.
If you want to buy pneumatic actuators or want to know more about actuators, please contact us. UG Controls is a professional custom valve actuator manufacturer. We use our engineering expertise and industry experience to continuously improve our products, striving to provide efficient solutions and competitive prices. UG is also a global supplier of engineered actuators and accessories to the oil and gas, mining, chemical, pharmaceutical, water and power, food and beverage, and general industrial markets.