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Rapid and reliable actuation of gate valves is now more critical to liquid and gas handling applications.

The food industry faces twin demands of production automation and the pressure to produce without production interruptions for maintenance.

Gate valves, also known as sluice valves, typically operate either fully open or fully closed. They are used in pipelines as isolating valves rather than control or regulating valves.

Their compact simplicity, low pressure loss, bidirectional versatility and ability to handle full flows where particles cannot cluster has led to widespread use in process engineering applications.

Typically gate valves are manually or, occasionally, hydraulically actuated, but where faster or remote actuation is required they usually rely on conventional pneumatic actuation using a cylinder with rods and seals.

However, an alternative means of actuation is available to process engineers charged with designing pipeline and reticulation systems that respond to the needs of automation and uninterrupted production demands.

These flexible-wall, bellows-type Airstroke actuators – manufactured by Firestone and distributed in Australia by Air Springs Supply – are essentially tough, fabric reinforced rubber balloons of different shapes engineered to perform different tasks.

The simple single, double and triple-convoluted airbags operate without seals, shafts or internal moving parts to provide ultra-reliable actuation alternatives for materials handling technology exposed to grime, debris and waste, which can disrupt the seals and shafts of convention pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders.

The Airstroke range includes single, double and triple convoluted models with strokes up to 300mm. They suit applications requiring clean actuators that don’t need lubrication, but which can also cope effortlessly with dirt and grime.