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Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

Improving Valve Sealing Performance and Reliability

From time to time, we are re-posting wel...

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

A Primer on Fugitive Emissions

Fourscore and seven years ago, no one ha...

The State of Industrial Distribution in 2017

The State of Industrial Distribution in 2017

Key trends for the industrial distributi...

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Industry Headlines

ITT Reports 2016 Fourth-Quarter, Full-Year Results

Thursday, 16 February 2017  |  Chris Guy

On a GAAP basis, ITT Corporation delivered revenue of $588 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, reflecting a 12% decline that included a 2% negative...

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Industry Headlines

ITT Reports 2016 Fourth-Quarter, Full-Year Results

3 DAYS AGO

On a GAAP basis, ITT Corporation delivered revenue of $588 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, reflecting a 12% decline that included a 2% negative impact from foreign exchange. GAAP segment operating income decreased 12% .

In the Industrial Process segment, total revenue decreased 29% to $212 milli...

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Delta Centrifugal Rejoins VMA

4 DAYS AGO

This week VMA welcomed back associate member Delta Centrifugal Corporation of Temple, TX after a one year absence from the association.

Delta produces custom-made castings. Delta’s operations include Texas Stainless, Inc. Texas Stainless is a metals distributor and sells castings produced by Delt...

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How New U.S. Policies Will Affect the Chemical Industry

5 DAYS AGO

“In 2017, barring a recession in the U.S. and Europe or a slowdown in China, Moody’s Investor Service expects EBITDA in the chemicals industry to slip by 1 or 2% year-over-year.”

A new report from PwC predicts that the Trump administration “is likely to embrace policies that are...

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$2.2 Billion Investment Approved for Mad Dog Phase 2 Project

6 DAYS AGO

BHP Billiton has approved expenditure of $2.2 billion for its share of the development of the Mad Dog Phase 2 project in the Gulf of Mexico. During the fourth quarter of 2016, BP, which holds a 60.5% participating interest, sanctioned the Mad Dog Phase 2 project.

Mad Dog Phase 2, located in the Green...

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Philly Fed Manufacturing Conditions Continued to Improve in February

4 DAYS AGO

The index for current manufacturing activity in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware increased from a reading of 23.6 in January to 43.3 this month and has remained positive for seven consecutive months. The share of firms reporting growth continues to increase: More than 48% of the ...

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Industrial Production Down 0.3% in January

5 DAYS AGO

Industrial production decreased 0.3% in January following a 0.6% increase in December. In January, manufacturing output moved up 0.2%, and mining output jumped 2.8%. The index for utilities fell 5.7%, largely because unseasonably warm weather reduced the demand for heating. At 104.6% of its 2012 avera...

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A Primer On Worm Gear Operators

vmsum12_worm_gears_1A remote gas pipeline installation in Pinedale, WyomingManual gear operators continue to provide a viable, age-old solution with a few 21st century twists. Understanding how these products work, as well as the tradeoffs and costs associated with manual operators, can help end users select the right technology for the application.

Over the past 30 years, valve automation has dominated the flow control industry. But even though power actuation captivates the attention, imagination and the lion’s share of growth in the market, manual valve actuation also continues to expand, receiving its own innovations. In this article, we provide an introduction to the basic principles behind these workhorse operators and discuss current trends in the market. We also consider the benefits and associated costs that come with manual worm gear designs. Please note that for ease of reference, a glossary of terms has been added; the definitions provided are industry specific and only intended to cover the depth and scope of this article (click here).


THE RANGE

Manual worm gear operators can be found in nearly every valve application throughout the world. Manual operators have no power requirements, no hydraulic or pneumatic pressure unit to maintain and can be used in the most remote locations. From submarine duty to mining, water works to oil and gas pipelines, if torque is required, manual worm gear operators are there.

To begin, it may help to view the world through the eyes of the application engineer. We push up our stylish horn rim glasses, open our 20-tab spreadsheet product selector and ask: “Torque or thrust?” The first consideration in selecting an actuator is the type of force required. Torque, that rotational or twisting force necessary to position ball valves, plug valves, butterfly valves, etc., will be the focus of this article.

Let’s look at the fundamental challenge our application engineer faces, which is: “How do we provide a means to safely and effectively position the valve?”

vmsum12_worm_gears_2Figure 1. A simple lever can work when just a small amount of torque is needed.If the valve torque is small enough, a wrench or lever of adequate length or a handwheel of the appropriate diameter provide simple solutions to our dilemma (Figure 1). Both the handwheel and the lever increase mechanical advantage by applying principles explained by Archimedes more than 2,000 years ago. Levers, while efficient and cost-effective, remain impractical or undesirable for many applications, however. At some point, the force required to position the valve exceeds the feasibility of a simple lever; this is where worm gear operators enter the picture.

We have used gears for thousands of years to harness energy from wind, water and beasts. Think of gear mechanisms as a series of interacting levers and screws. In our application, gears are used to amplify torque. In short, we use gears to convert force to work.


THE MECHANISM

vmsum12_worm_gears_3Figure 2. A simple cylindrical single-start worm and worm gear set.Worm gear operators are used for actuation because they offer high torque multiplication and load-carrying capability in a small, low-cost package. Figure 2 presents an example of a typical worm gear set found in a manual worm gear operator.

Following conventional American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) (www.agma.org) gear design standards, if a single-start worm is the drive and an 80-tooth worm gear is the driven, the ratio would be expressed as 1:80 (the formula is available in the glossary). That’s a lot of ratio in a small package. But these numbers only tell us that it takes 80 worm revolutions (drive) to complete one revolution of the worm gear (driven). The ratio tells us about the mechanism’s effect on speed but little about torque. To understand the effect on torque, we need to know the mechanical advantage (MA). In a perfect machine, a 1:80 ratio would net an MA of 1:80 (expressed as 80), meaning that for 1 unit of force applied, 80 units of force are generated.

Does this mean free torque? Unfortunately, no. The energy of the universe is constant and as with everything, there is an associated cost.


THE COSTS

What are the costs associated with amplifying force through our manual actuator? The first cost is hard cash—the worm gear actuator will cost more than a lever or handwheel.

Second, machines are not perfect, which is demonstrated in efficiency losses through heat and wear. As it turns out, standard single-start metal worm gear sets are less than 35% efficient by design. Also, worm gear sets with a worm thread angle and design, which net an efficiency of approximately 35% and greater, are not typically self-locking, and without self-locking characteristics are not suitable for a number of applications. Based on a website sample of the top manufacturers, 32% is the approximate average efficiency for manual worm gear operators. This simple formula explains what happens to mechanical advantage in a 32% efficient gear train:

80 x .32 = 25.6 MA

The MA would be approximately 25, not 80. That is nearly 55 points of mechanical advantage lost to ­inefficiency.

Third, and not captured in manufacturer’s data sheets, is the cost in the exchange of force for distance. We increase force by simply making more trips, or more specifically, more turns on the handwheel to cycle the valve.

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