Much of the world’s industry is controlled by small hidden devices that few of us ever think about. However, these little engineering gems make much of modern life possible.
These components (called control valves) control the operation of equipment by supplying the correct amount of power in the form of pressure within pneumatic systems (air or gas) or hydraulic systems (oil, water or liquid). Aircraft, bulldozers, trains, production lines, and robots have much of their power distributed to the action points by pneumatics or hydraulics.
Control valves frequently operate in especially sensitive applications, such as commercial aircraft flight systems. They must often operate flawlessly under extreme conditions of hot or cold, dirt, caustic chemicals, vibration, shock, and remote locations. As a result the technology is very exacting in order to achieve the required performance and especially the 100% reliability.
Control valve products include:
- Shuttle Valves, which switch fluids from one source to a second source
- Pressure Switches, which measure pressure and often act when the pressure reaches a certain value
- Transducers measure and record a variety of properties, such as pressure, temperature, salinity, etc.
- Relief valves (sometimes called “safety valves”) allow the pressure to be relieved when there is some malfunction in the system
- Flow Meters measure the movement of fluids. Accurate fluid movement measurement is a difficult task, and Flow Meters utilize precision techniques
- Regulators often take the signals from Transducers and Flow Meters, and then act to adjust the operation of the system. Often, the term “regulator” is used to mean “pressure regulator”.
The global control valves market is estimated to be close to USD 6.34 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach a level of USD 10 billion by 2018, at an annual growth rate of 6 %. There is an increasing demand for control valves used in the petroleum, petrochemicals, and chemicals industries.