Smart Pneumatic Valves for Digital Transformation

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Pneumatic valve systems designed for digital transformation now incorporate features and technology that provide a new level of precision control for pneumatic-driven actuators and applications.

Contributed by Ryan Lee
Photo: Ryan Lee, Business Development Manager, Digital Transformation, for Fluid Controls and Pneumatics solutions at Emerson Asia Pacific. Photo credit: Emerson.

The digital transformation of the automation industry is well under way. Today’s smarter, connected production systems and components now leverage vital data and the latest communications technology. While these intelligent systems continue to evolve, proven manufacturing technologies such as pneumatics are evolving alongside them.

Pneumatic technologies have long been depended upon across many industries and applications. As new designs have emerged, that hasn’t changed. Modern control valves and other pneumatic components are integral to smart pneumatic systems. Leading-edge pneumatic valves incorporate sensors, industrial network interfaces, wireless technology and sophisticated digital control features that bring greater versatility, better control and proven performance to a wide range of automation and manufacturing applications.

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Evolution Of Valve Control Technology

Control of pneumatic valves and monitoring of cylinder position sensors was originally achieved through discrete wiring: Each programmable logic controller (PLC) output was individually wired to a solenoid valve coil and triggered separately, and position sensors on cylinders were wired back to the PLC’s input card — which is expensive and time-consuming to install.

This evolved into a more practical solution; with the creation of plug-in valves and manifolds, all the solenoid valve connections to the PLC input/output (I/O) cards could be achieved with a single cable, terminated by a multi-pin connector. Now, with one cable run, dozens of individual wires can easily be replaced; this began the process of reducing wiring costs for pneumatic valve control purposes.

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