Multi-Purpose Systems

How Valve Solutions Lower Production Costs in Multi-Purpose Systems

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Automation Using Pneumatic Quarter Turn Actuators

While in the past these were usually operated manually by plant personnel, in today’s plants they are mostly automated using pneumatic quarter turn actuators. In high-performance multi-purpose systems, once the appropriate recipe has been selected in the production control system, the individual ingredients are selected, metered and fed to the mixer fully automatically. The control of the mixer with regard to process parameters such as temperature, pressure and pH value is also completely automated.

The plant engineers at a manufacturer of body care products have been considering for some time now how they could minimise the cleaning losses of perfumes, which in some cases can be quite expensive. This section of the plant was equipped with stainless steel ball valves, which were as usual connected to pipes and fittings to form a highly complex network.


It was deemed preferable to keep using ball valves because of their robustness and low purchase and operating cost. As a first step, the manufacturer’s engineers developed a compact valve node, each with 6–8 ball valves per manifold. This reduced cleaning losses to some extent, but the result was not yet satisfactory. The dead volumes within the solution were still too large.

System Upgrade Paid for Itself in Only Eleven Months

At this point the process automation specialists from Festo came into the picture. They went through the specification of the plant in detail with the customer and then created a complex ball valve distributor manifold for more than 20 perfume storage tanks. With the help of an initial 3D CAD model, this suggestion was discussed with the customer and further optimised.

The distributor was based on stainless steel ball valves VAPB with pneumatic quarter-turn actuators DFPB. Position feedback was via an open position indicator solution using proximity sensors in accordance with the customer’s specifications.

Once the mechanical design work for the highly complex distributor had been completed, a rapid prototyping model on a scale of 1:5 was produced in the Festo Fast Factory. This resolved any lingering doubts about the feasibility of the new solution, and the customer then ordered the first pre-assembled unit.