As a concept, right-sizing is inherently linked to smart machine design, which brings about rewards such as optimised space, considerable savings on components and installation, inherent safety by design and, oh yes, that all-important future-proofing against ever-changing requirements.
Of course, the design engineers need a sound understanding of standard machine components, as well as knowledge of current machinery safety standards and a firm grasp of the desired outcome in terms of machine function. Meeting all of these requirements when selecting products is a process known as right-sizing. In pneumatic applications, right-sizing can impart considerable benefits, especially with regard to valve manifolds.
Valves are generally sized by cylinder bore, actuation speed, and required pressure. In the past, the entire valve manifold would be sized based on the largest force/speed requirements to ensure enough flow was present in the pneumatic system, or by splitting between two manifolds (low and high pressure/flow). However, this methodology results in waste, both in terms of compressed air and the expense and size of the manifold, not to mention the labour needed to install two manifolds.
Today, right-sizing is achieved by selecting the correct valve for each actuator on one manifold based on speed and bore size for a given flow requirement. In addition, we are pleased to report that some ISO valve manifolds, such as Parker’s H Series, offer a broad range of flows (0.55 Cv up to 3.0 Cv) on one manifold for ease of right-sizing.
Here’s a practical application to consider. Assume a machine that needs the following: four actuators requiring <0.5 Cv; four actuators requiring 1 Cv; and two actuators requiring 2 Cv. This application can be sized several different ways based on the highest flow requirements (solution 1), by splitting the application into two different manifolds for varying flow (solution 2), and by right-sizing each valve to the corresponding actuator (solution 3).
In this example, a cost estimation was produced for a collective hard-wired system and a networked (Ethernet) system in all three solutions. Right-sizing each valve to the corresponding actuator (solution 3), proved to be the most cost effective for both. Beginning with hard wiring, right-sizing saved $92 against solution 2 and $656.60 against solution 1. Similarly, for the networked system, right-sizing produced savings of $552 compared with solution 2 and $656.60 when pitched against solution 1. In addition, labour is not included in these estimations, which would be a particular cost for solution 2, where two manifolds have to be installed.
We can say with certainty that right-sizing works for a number of reasons. Aside from certain valve manifolds offering a broad range of flows, buying just one manifold means purchasing fewer overall components. In addition, the cost of smaller valves is less, installation costs are reduced and less space is consumed within the machine.
Think smarter, lighter and faster.
If you would like to find out more about Parker’s H Series valve manifolds, and the benefits they can bring to machine-building projects, read the white paper "Why Right-Sizing Matters".
Article contributed by Linda Caron, product manager for Factory Automation, Pneumatic Division