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fail-safe pneumatic actuators

Pneumatic actuators are the workhorses in many industrial manufacturers and processing plants. A pneumatic actuator failure can create a major issue causing downtime of production, costly repairs and loss of output. We take a look at some of the causes of pneumatic actuator failure, what signs to look out for and what you can do to ensure that you have fail-safe actuators working in your business.

What are known factors in causing pneumatic actuator failures?

Pneumatic actuators can show a range of symptoms when something is wrong, but there are some common problems that cause pneumatic actuator failure. These are some of the core areas where problems might arise, but which can be identified with an understanding of the key components and their operation:

  • The actuator ports are plugged with contaminants – A build-up of moisture and/or particulates in the system can coalesce in areas around the actuators ports seriously impacting flow.
  • There is too much condensation in the system – Corrosion caused by moisture build-up can collect in the ports and cylinder. This can result in reduced actuator pressure and even rod and seal damage over time.
  • There are problems with the seals – Seals can become worn over time or damaged by contamination within the system. If the actuator does not meet the required specification for the job, or the seals are not maintained, then extrusion can also be an issue.
  • Underspecification – actuators Overloaded actuators will damage seals quicker through overpressure, may have alignment issues and, if physical damage occurs, may seize up altogether.

What are the signs that your pneumatic actuator is fa


Actuators can show a number of signs that there is a problem in a particular area, and it is important to monitor your pneumatic actuator, maintain it properly and understand the symptoms that may suggest that something needs repairing or that it needs some care and attention. Some of the signs that you might be headed for pneumatic actuator failure are:

  • Scored rod or cylinder
  • Erratic load movement
  • Cylinder drift
  • The actuator sticking in either a fully open or closed position
  • Leaks
  • Seal extrusion
  • Pooling of moisture around fittings

How can you prevent pneumatic actuator failure?

The ultimate solution for any processing plant would be to have a fail-safe actuator which is guaranteed to work under all conditions regardless of level of usage, maintenance schedule and operating environment. However, pneumatic actuator failure is rarely the result of poor manufacture, and the road to a fail-safe actuator lies in the way that you treat and maintain your equipment. Some of our tips for avoiding pneumatic actuator failure, are:

  • Use and maintain filters which are suitable for your operating environment.
  • Inspect any piping regularly and replace any failed parts as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure you purchase the actuator and ancillary equipment within specification for its intended task.
  • Maintain and service your pneumatic actuator regularly.

Pneumatic actuator failure can be avoided when the process you use to purchase the equipment is considered and takes into account its working environment, operational expectations and likely loads and usage. Once in use, a fail-safe actuator is most likely to be achieved through regular servicing, changing of filters and any damaged seals, and an understanding

 by your operators about the kinds of signs that may suggest something is wrong.

If you are looking to purchase a fail-safe actuator and would like some guidance in which is the right pneumatic actuator to suit your requirements, why not speak to one of our experts on 01254 395000. 

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