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An Electric Actuator Whose Best Features Lie Just Below The Surface

Actuators play an essential role in the control and management of Australia’s vast water utilities network.

Responsible for controlling valves and gates in a hydro facility, an actuator requires a control signal and source of energy, to be able to stop unnecessary leakage and control the flow of water running through water valves.

At present hydraulic actuators help control some 80 per cent of Sydney’s potable water supply by the use of hydraulic technology as a power source. This has led to some uncertainty in positioning accuracy and repeatability as well as the ever-present risk of hydraulic oil leakage.

For an actuator to be totally effective, it may need to be fully underwater – a procedure that also requires proactive maintenance to prevent the leakage of oils and other fluids into the potable water supply, while the risk of the actuator becoming water logged and in turn, shorting out and/or breaking down is a constant concern.

In short, ingress of water will destroy the actuator itself while also endangering the safe operation and even the integrity of infrastructure.

One recent example of how this risk was overcome and eventually negated can be found at a water distribution structure near Regents Park in Sydney.

This water distribution structure was originally constructed with hydraulically operated penstocks, which in turn control three pipelines that allow water to flow into the districts storage reservoirs.

The structures old hydraulic actuators run on oil and any leakage of this oil could potentially contaminate domestic drinking water supply.

To combat these issues, the Outlet was refitted with AUMA submersible electrical actuators. The only actuators presently available in the Australian market with an ingress protection standard that is beyond the highest industry levels of IP68 and IP69. In other words, they are completely watertight and can operate underwater without any risk of being damaged.

The fully submersible electrical actuators from AUMA are also designed to not have any risk of oil leakage as they are run on electricity and cannot be contaminated. As an additional safety feature, they are supplied with ‘food grade’ lubricants and special paintwork compatible with drinking water.

Plus, as they are electric actuators, they can be run from a centralised control system that is separate from the actuator.

Since the control systems are situated out of the water themselves, if any problems do arise, the technician has easy and quick access to the separate control panel while also negating the need for a physical and also potentially hazardous check in the penstocks themselves.

AUMA submersible actuators are also flexible and can be preloaded with codes for security and can also be tailored to collect data such as telemetry and power fluctuations.

In fact, they can provide many years of service records so users can easily be aware of any recurring maintenance issues.

The submersible actuators from AUMA also have a three tier warning system for easy detection of problems.

This three-step hierarchy includes cautions, warnings and alarms. So as a problem becomes progressively worse, the user may implement predictive maintenance regimes.

AUMA’s actuators can be used in a number of industries including hydropower and water treatment, water management, power stations, cement plants, civil engineering and mining.

For example, in modern installations, AUMA’s submersible electric actuators are being used to exploit the enormous volumes of unused watercourses with low gradient levels.

These variable speed electrical actuators are engineered to control flow during start-up, synchronisation and cutout of the plant and, as mentioned, may be situated completely underwater.

For the water management industry, the AUMA electrical submersible actuators can operate even when the water body in which they are present has been flooded.

In civil engineering applications, AUMA’s submersible electric actuators can help with flood control in disaster prone areas. AUMA submersible actuators can work in these environments for up to 10 years without the need for removal from the water source. This saves the client a decade of maintenance costs and inconvenience.

To find out more about AUMA’s submersible electric actuators for underwater use and how they can improve your business or government waterworks operations, click here.

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