SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland — In industrial systems, the monitoring, control, and maintenance of valves is a demanding task as the operating data is not available directly at the actuator or valve and is usually quite difficult to obtain. With its newly developed valve actuator "Smart Actuator," GF Piping Systems consistently applies the possibilities offered by digitalization. The actuator makes it easy to identify valve positions, control the maintenance status, find operating instructions online, and much more.

Often it is difficult to find the operating instructions for system components such as valves in large systems. The identification of existing equipment or the assignment of newly delivered products to the correct location within the installation is time-consuming and error-prone. It often seems impossible to keep an overview of current settings and the current maintenance status and to carry out maintenance activities during ongoing operations. The limited available information that is difficult to access makes working difficult, especially in case of frequent workforce changes.

"The new valve actuator ‘Smart Actuator’ from GF Piping Systems can be fully monitored and, if required also controlled, via an app on the smartphone or tablet PC," said Sandra Schiller, head of product management industry at GF Piping Systems. “Already while still in a de-energized state, the actuator can communicate via NFC with the app on the tablet or smartphone. After the initial startup, the app displays existing valves with their previously assigned names. Operating instructions are not required due to the intuitive user guidance. The wireless connection enables the unit to read data, such as cycles and the current profile. Malfunctions also appear directly in the app. Later settings or short-term overriding of the control signal can take place conveniently without direct interference with the process control system (PCS). Already during installation, the app can facilitate the later commissioning and the early integration into the piping and instrument flow diagram (P& ID) that is already part of the planning. Thanks to standardized mechanical interfaces, the actuator can be installed on any standard valve.

The valve actuator "Smart Actuator" offers various advantages:

•           Flexible upgrade thanks to an ISO-5211 interface. In line with the ISO standard 5211, the Smart Actuator can be used for all standard valves. This way, the optimization of the system does not require the replacement of valves.

•           Better visual control thanks to 360° LED display. An all-round 360-degree LED display shows already from a distance and from any viewing angle, in which end position the actuator is located.          

•           Wireless control. The app allows direct access – all key data is immediately available, while control and system diagnosis can also be carried out via a smartphone. You can decide whether and for how long the main control is overwritten.        

•           Flexible planning, convenient pre-configuration, and quick commissioning. Thanks to the wireless access the actuator can be installed even in places that are difficult to access. Initial configurations are already possible in a de-energized state. A name in the P&ID can be assigned to any actuator via NFC. Signal tests and optical feedback make commissioning much easier.

•           Convenient data handling, more control. Finally, you can know at all times what is happening inside the actuator – all settings can be adjusted, stored, and exported intuitively in the app. Data transparency is improved, while maintenance can be better planned.

"The Smart Actuator is a first step toward a new digital generation of devices that make the planning, installation, control and monitoring of systems much easier and clearer," said Adrian Schwyzer, global market segment manager water treatment at GF Piping Systems. “The product is gradually being rolled out starting in 2019.”

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