Traditionally, electric actuators used to automate ball valves, butterfly valves, gate valves and globe valves, have been based on a 1950’s American design and it was deemed necessary for their aluminium housings to be robust enabling them to withstand the rigours of a wide variety of site installations and environmental situations.

The resulting designs produced a heavy electric actuator that in most cases, when fitted to smaller sized valves, required specific and additional pipe supports to carry the weight of the actuator. This problem was even more pronounced when motorising plastic valves.

To compound the problem, to provide local control functionality to these robust aluminium electric actuators required an additional aluminium housing containing the external local control switches and buttons, and internal relays and switchgear.

Not all applications require a robust and heavy aluminium housed electric actuator as a huge percentage of electric valves, particularly electric ball valves, are for installations and applications where the valve actuators are never at risk of damage by being struck, stood on, or see extremes of weather conditions.

The housing therefore is an envelope that simply protects the electrical actuator’s motor, electric circuitry and mechanical gears from the ingress of dust and water, and as such neither needs to be manufactured in aluminium, or be heavy duty. The plastic housed electric actuator was subsequently developed and now constitutes a significant proportion of electric valve actuators sold in today’s markets.

Where equipment manufacturers wanted to use electric ball valves located in a control cabinet on their machine, the cabinets had to be large and heavy duty to cope with the weight of the heavy traditional aluminium housed valve actuators. Plastic housed electronic actuators are lighter in weight which helps.

However, most electric actuator manufacturers simply exchanged an aluminium housing for a plastic one, the overall size of the electric actuator remained similar to the original American 1950 design.

The ever-decreasing physical size and cost of electronic components continually opens new opportunities to re-design equipment and in recent years young, modern thinking R&D and design engineers have turned their attention to electric valve actuators.

Their efforts have been rewarded with the AVA electronic actuator an instantly recognisable, feature rich, lightweight, plastic housed electronic based compact electric actuator.

The AVA smart electric actuator comprises a combination of plastic and metal gears driven by a brushless motor that is completely electronically controlled. It produces high torque output from a very small package sized actuator.

Gone are the traditional cam operated microswitches used to stop the motor at the desired position, replaced with digital magnetic positioning technology which control the motor by software.

Now, a bright OLED screen advises users of the actuator’s status and the traditional extra housing needed for local controls has been replaced with three small external push buttons.

These buttons not only provide local controls, but when used in conjunction with the OLED screen, allow many user friendly software parameters to be modified allowing quick and easy adjustment and commissioning of the AVA actuator, some of which would have required the removal of the actuator’s cover in traditional actuators. Former mechanical adjustments are now made via software, in seconds, externally.

Economically competitive, the AVA is perfect for most types of rotary valves and its high torque output in a compact housing results in actuated valves that are small in footprint, light in weight and hugely user friendly. Add in the savings from eliminating the need for extra support too.

The multi-layer of advantages that the AVA actuator offers has presented opportunities to a wide range of different sectors, from valve manufacturers and distributors to original equipment manufacturers and machine builders, particularly those where space and weight are an important factor, and they are taking full advantage.

The compact AVA electronic actuator, unique in so many ways and can be purchased from trusted companies such as Actuated Valve Supplies.