AUMA electric actuators are proving their durability under extreme operating conditions at facilities processing frac sand in Tomah, Wisconsin, USA.
The AUMA units withstand high levels of vibration and periodic flooding that have defeated other actuators in a matter of days.
AUMA supplied 17 SQR 07.2 actuators with AC 01.2 controls at the end of May 2018. They are installed at four facilities operated by Hi-Crush Operating LLC, which produces frac sand for the US oil and gas market. The actuators control water flows around hydrosizers, which use water to separate the frac sand into sharply defined size fractions.
According to Matt Kaczmarek of Dorner Co., a vendor of valves and actuators, Hi-Crush was having to replace the previous actuators on a weekly basis because extreme vibration was damaging them, especially their electronic components: “The commodity actuators were vibrating apart, and the control boards and potentiometers were failing left and right.”
In addition, sudden deluges of water from an overflowing tank above made it hard to install replacements. “Hi-Crush wrecked numerous actuators during setup,” Matt Kaczmarek says. “They would have an actuator opened up for calibration and water would come down from above, frying the actuator.”
The new AUMA actuators allow the AC 01.2 controls to be mounted remotely from the actuator bodies, to which they are linked by 35-ft (10-meter) cables. This simplifies installation and aids operators in checking the status of the actuators. Most importantly, it improves reliability by removing the electronics from the areas of high vibration.
Compared to the previous commodity actuators, the AUMA units are also easier to calibrate and maintain. Setup can be done non-intrusively, without opening the actuator housing, so flooding at the Hi-Crush plants is not a problem. If issues do arise, AUMA’s powerful diagnostics show maintenance staff exactly where to look.
“AUMA was more expensive initially,” says Matt Kaczmarek, “but the new actuators have been paying themselves off for the last few months as they have been operating with no major issues.”
“Previously, the customer would spend hours diagnosing actuator failures. Then they would still have to replace the part that failed, recalibrate and test, which equated to hours and hours of downtime. Oftentimes, even after replacing parts they would find something else was wrong and have to replace the whole actuator.”
Actuators offer high load capacity and synchronization feature
The innovative Thomson Electrak HD range of linear actuators from INMOCO has been extended with higher power capacities, opening up new possibilities in hydraulic-to-electric conversion across a broad spread of applications. These smart electromechanical actuators also incorporate onboard electronics that can eliminate the need for standalone controls, with a synchronisation option that enables the integration of two or more actuators.
With load capacity increased by 50% in the newly extended range, the Electrak HD actuators can now handle loads up to 16kN. The actuators with the highest load rating in the range, the 16kN units, are available with stroke lengths up to 500mm; longer stroke lengths, up to the 1m maximum, can be supplied with up to 10kN load ratings. This enables the actuators to be used in some of the most demanding applications that could previously only have been handled by hydraulic actuators.
In addition, protection to IP69K means the actuators can be used in the most environmentally demanding applications. They are built to withstand dirt, water, fertilisers, acids and oils, and can be used across a broad range of temperatures extending from -40degC to +85degC.
Another new feature is the synchronisation option, with enables machine designers to handle not only heavier loads but also uneven loads. For example, a load that is much heavier at one end than the other could damage a machine and its components if not handled properly, but the synchronisation feature allows two or more Electrak HD units to share and evenly distribute load.
Synchronisation enables designers to advantage of a more stable and potentially quicker lift, without the requirement for additional guides or mechanical linkages. This also means simpler installation, which extends to the wiring of the system as well, since the integrated controls for synchronisation eliminate the need for external sync control.
Electrak HD actuators are built around a high-quality ball screw, the efficiency of which reduces power consumption by up to 20%. This is protected by a hard-anodised aluminium cover tube and a stainless steel extension tube. The modular design of the HD allows all control and feedback options to be built into a single compact housing, which improves controllability, saves space and reduces installation time and total cost. A CAN J1939 bus option can eliminate individual controls and simplifies OEM machine design.
The wide range of optional control features can, in many cases, eliminate the need for external controls. This saves design and installation time, as well as space and cost. It also allows the HD to be customised to the specific needs of demanding heavy-duty applications.
Gerard Bush of INMOCO comments: “Electrak HD actuators can deliver huge benefits over pneumatic and hydraulic mechanisms, including reduced design, installation and operation costs, while improving controllability, safety and productivity. With the increased load capacity and the synchronisation option, the actuators can now handle an even broader range of applications, accelerating the trend towards electric conversion of actuation in the most demanding machinery tasks and mobile on- and off-highway equipment. Replacing hydraulic and pneumatic systems, the Electrak HD actuators are smaller, cleaner and easier to integrate with modern computer-based control systems.”
Flood-Proof submersible actuator helps wastewater treatment
Emerson today launched its EIM™ Aquanaught, a waterproof submersible electric actuator, designed to meet critical isolation demands on wastewater treatment plants during high water conditions. The actuator can be submerged and still operate under 150 feet of dirty water for seven days, which is three times deeper and 40 percent longer than competing submersible technologies.
The Aquanaught features a robust mechanical design with a waterproof enclosure and hermetically sealed connections that ensure uninterrupted plant operation during flooding conditions. Ideal for gate or valve isolation applications found in wastewater, water, collection systems, hydropower, flood control and desalination plants, the design allows these facilities to remain in control of their isolation needs from a safe remote location even if the actuator becomes submerged for extended periods of time. Waterproof sensors provide an additional level of protection by enabling early diagnostic and preventive maintenance during the flooding event.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US processes approximately 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. During events like Hurricanes Sandy, Irma and Harvey, billions of gallons of untreated sewer overflowed into impacted communities, posing significant health and environmental risks to the affected areas. With experts predicting that flooding is expected to worsen as climate change progresses, the need for more reliable actuation technologies becomes critical for these facilities.
“When flood waters begin to overwhelm wastewater treatment facilities, it becomes critical for these plants to keep pace with the changing conditions and continue to operate for the sake of their communities,” said Shimona Verma, senior product marketing manager for actuation technologies at Emerson Automation Solutions. “More facilities are looking to upgrade their infrastructure to ensure they aren’t outmatched by future flood waters, and the EIM Aquanaught is a reliable component that will help their operations stay afloat.”
SIL-capable actuators protect BASF plant
SIL-capable AUMA actuators meet the highest safety requirements as part of a safety system for flue gas scrubbers on a BASF incineration plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The actuators operate flue gas dampers that protect the GRP scrubbers against excessive temperatures in case of emergency.
To prevent damage to the scrubbing system BASF implemented a protection scheme that, as an overall system, meets the stringent SIL 3 requirements according to IEC 61508. The system includes three flue gas dampers fitted with AUMA electric actuators that are TÜV-certified for use in safety-related systems up to SIL 2/SIL 3 (SIL 3 for redundant system architecture).
The first flue gas damper is installed upstream of the flue gas scrubber. If inadmissibly high temperatures are detected, the actuator closes the damper to stop flue gas entering the scrubber. The other two actuators open dampers that divert the flue gas to an emergency stack. For maximum safety, these dampers are arranged in series in a 2oo2 (two out of two) configuration.
The actuators are controlled by a safety PLC that issues a signal to the ESD (emergency shutdown) input of each actuator whenever there is demand for a safety operation. To ensure maximum system availability an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides emergency power for the electric actuators. Each actuator automatically performs a partial valve stroke test (PVST) once a month to ensure that actuators and dampers are working correctly.
For several years now, functional safety and SIL have been a priority for AUMA as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electric actuators. The company offers an extensive product portfolio covering safety requirements up to SIL 3.
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