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Sizing Actuators:
It’s All About Communication

Sizing Actuators: It’s All about Communication

he key to successful sizing or selec- required over the full cycle of valve
tion of the right valve actuator for operation. The torque/thrust require-
a job is communication. That communi- ments include the seating and unseating
cation occurs between the specifier of positions and the run torque required
the automated valve, the valve supplier during mid-travel, valve stem charac-
and the actuator supplier. The selection teristics including diameter, key dimen-
process itself is straightforward—actu- sions, and thread pitch and lead as
ator manufacturers publish selection or appropriate.
technical data charts. The task of the Other necessary information might
person who is sizing or selecting con- include required valve and actuator
sists of comparing the project’s valve mounting interface and dimensions,
actuation requirements against the space considerations, and gearboxes
actuator manufacturer’s published provided by the valve supplier that can
data. turn a part-turn requirement into a
multi-turn requirement. These criteria
THE DATA vary by valve type and vary from manu-
The information required to properly facturer to manufacturer. The valve
select an actuator comes in two parts. manufacturer is the best and most reli-
The first part consists of the application able source for that information.
requirements such as the ambient condi- When the actuator Sometimes the information given to
tions, enclosure requirements, operating the actuator supplier is not complete or
time or speed, and control interface.
supplier has all the the actuator supplier has additional
These criteria are defined in the actua- required information, questions. Unfortunately, many written
tor specification and related documents. the selection process specifications are not as clear as they
That specification describes the detailed is usually clear-cut. should be or have conflicting require-
features the designer requires of the ments. The actuator supplier is trained
The supplier to identify those discrepancies. That’s
Sometimes the specification includes combines the when additional two-way or three-way
critical actuator sizing requirements specification needs communication among the specifier,
such as a factor of safety to be applied with the valve valve supplier and actuator supplier is
to the unfactored valve operating necessary.
torque. Because this is a crucial part of
operating criteria and
communication, it’s critical that the determines the overall THE SELECTION
valve supplier pass along that actuator valve actuation When the actuator supplier has all the
specification to the actuator supplier. requirements. required information, the selection
The specification usually consists of process is usually clear-cut. The actua-
a written document with control tor supplier combines the specification
schematics, and in the case of electric electric actuator. needs with the valve operating criteria
actuators, a wiring diagram. Another The second part of the information and determines the overall valve actua-
critical piece of information is the actu- required consists of valve operating tion requirements. Those requirements
ator power medium—the available air requirements. Typically, valve operating are then compared with the appropriate
or hydraulic pressure for a fluid power criteria consist of: valve type and size, actuator manufacturer’s published tech-
actuator or electrical mains power type of actuation (multi turn, part turn nical data or selection charts.
(voltage, phase and frequency) for an or linear), and torque and thrust Actuator manufacturers have specif-

2 | Valve M A G A Z I N E © 2012 Valve Manufacturers Association. Reprinted with permission.

RICHARD OAKS is marketing manager for
ic products and resulting charts for Open communication of all specifica-
AUMA Actuators, Inc. (,
multi-turn, part-turn and linear actua- tion and valve operating data will result located in Canonsburg, PA. He is a member of the
tors. Those charts list specific actuator in proper actuator selection and VMA Market Trends Committee and serves on the
models and the performance criteria of achievement of the ultimate goal: a cor- Valve Magazine Editorial Review Board. Oaks is also
those models. Criteria include torque rectly applied automated valve. VM the recipient of VMA’s highest honor, Man of the
Year. Reach him at
rating, thrust rating as appropriate,
stem diameter acceptance, available
operating speed or closing time, mount-
ing flanges and weight. Any of those cri-
teria can be critical or determining fac- A Step Beyond
tors in selecting the particular model. (QMR\WRPRUURZ·V
For example, a specific actuator breathtaking technology
model may meet the valve operating today with AUMA
requirements for torque and thrust, but LQQRYDWLYHVROXWLRQV
the valve stem diameter is too large for for electric valve
that model. That causes the actuator DFWXDWRUVDQGFRQWUROV
selection to be increased to accommo- &XVWRPHUVZRUOGZLGH
date the stem diameter. In this case, the
the right combination
valve stem diameter is the critical factor IRURSWLPXPUHVXOWV
in selecting the actuator.
Again, communication comes into
play—dialog between the valve supplier
and actuator supplier on the subject of
stem diameter could lead to the valve
supplier decreasing the stem diameter,
allowing the smaller, more optimal
Valve Actuators with AC Valve Actuators with AM AUMA NORM Valve Actuators
actuator to be selected.
When an electric actuator is selected,
the stall torque of the selected actuator
should receive attention. Position limit
sensors, torque sensors and phase correc-
tion devices furnished in state-of-the-art
electric actuators protect the valve from
Actuators may be non-intrusive Actuators with AM controls are NORM actuators are furnished when
motor stall, provided the actuator was with position and torque sensed conventional units with integral motor controls are installed at a
properly commissioned on the valve. by encoders or conventional motor controls and interface remote location like a motor control
with limit and torque switches. to the DCS. AM controls are center.
There are isolated cases, however, where AC controls provide extensive adequate for a large percentage
control and reporting features of applications.
the valve may encounter the stall torque for interface with the Distributed
of the actuator, which is up to 50% above Control System (DCS).
the published torque rating, particularly
AUMA Actuators, Inc.
if the actuator motor controls are not 100 Southpointe Blvd.
provided by the actuator supplier. For Canonsburg, PA 15317 USA
Phone: (724) 743-AUMA (286(2862)
this reason, assuring the valve and valve Fax: (724) 743-4711
E-Mail: mailbox@auma-usa.c om
actuator mounting interface can with- Please visit us at our website:
stand that stall torque is critical.

© 2012 Valve Manufacturers Association. Reprinted with permission. Fall 2012 | 3

Electric Actuator Take-off Form AUMA Actuators, Inc.
a Type of Valve ________________ (butterfly, plug, ball, etc.)
b Torque Required to Operate ____________________________ (ft - lbs)
c Stem Diameter ______________(inches)
d Operating time from full open to full closed _________sec.
a Type of Valve / gate _________________________ (gate, globe, water gate, pinch, etc.)
b Torque required to operate ____________________________ (ft - lbs)
c Thrust required to operate ____________________________ (lbs.)
d Required operating speed ________________________ (i.e. inches per minute)
e No. of turns required for entire stroke (open or closed) of valve or gate ___________
f Stem Diameter ______________(inches)
g Stem Pitch ________ Stem Lead ________ (ie: 1/4 x 1/4, 1/4 x 1/2, etc.)
a Type of Valve _________________________ (gate, globe, pinch, etc.)
b Thrust Required to Operate ____________________________ (lbs.)
c Required operating speed ________________________ (i.e. in per minute)
4) Actuator type: Conventional _______ / Non-intrusive (requires MWG and AC controls)_______
5) Type of service: open / close _______ / modulating _______
6) Motor voltage: AC - voltage/phase/frequency ______v /____ ph / ______hz - or - DC ______VDC
7) Enclosures: NEMA 4 ____ NEMA 4X ____ NEMA 6 ____ (specify depth & duration) _____________
8) Hazardous location: FM - CL _____ Div _____ Groups _________ - or - other ________________
9) Ambient temperature: _______ to _______ (minimum to maximum)
10) Mechanical Options (MDPI, machined coupling/stem nut, declutch lever lock, etc):
11) Electrical Options (MWG, 4-20 mA position feedback transmitter, spare limit switch contacts, etc):
12) Actuator controls (reversing starters, control power supply, local controls and control system interface):
a Who is furnishing controls (usually supplied by AUMA, can be supplied by others):
_____ furnished by AUMA _____ furnished by others
b Location of actuator controls (usually integral to actuator, can be furnished for remote mounting):
_____ integral to actuator/ by AUMA _____ remote from actuator / by AUMA
c Type of control system interface:
_____ discrete inputs (24 VDC or 115 V) _____ analog signal (4 - 20 mA)
_____ fieldbus / 2-wire / digital communications (specifiy protocol) __________________________
If controls are to be supplied by AUMA, typical controls supplied are:
d AM controls with standard interface (discrete inputs) _______
Specify one: 24 VDC _____ 115 V _____
AM control interface options (in lieu of standard interface):
_____ 4 - 20 mA analog positioner _____Modbus RTU _____Profibus DP-V0
e AC controls with standard interface (discrete inputs) ______ (AC controls and MWG required for non-intrusive)
Specify one: 24 VDC _____ 115 V _____
AC control interface options (in lieu of standard interface):
_____ 4 - 20 mA analog positioner _____Modbus RTU _____Profibus DP-V0, V1 or V2
_____ DeviceNet _____Foundation Fieldbus
13) Other details:______________________________________________________________________________

AUMA Actuators, Inc

Ph: +1 724-743-2862