Intelligent Positioner and Control Valves

In industrial processes, control valves serve as crucial endpoints within control systems. Their proper operation is paramount for ensuring device safety and optimizing production efficiency. Intelligent valve positioners play a pivotal role in enhancing the flow characteristics and overall performance of these control valves. They achieve this through digital communication with Distributed Control Systems (DCS) or BUS equipment, thereby bolstering the enterprise's production control capabilities and ensuring stable and secure device operation.

Disadvantages of Conventional Positioners

Mechanical Complexity and Sensitivity: Conventional positioners operate on mechanical force balance principles, often using nozzle baffle mechanisms. These mechanisms, while effective in theory, are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, external vibrations, and environmental factors. Such sensitivity can compromise their performance and reliability over time.

High Energy Consumption: One notable drawback of conventional positioners is their substantial requirement for compressed air, especially under stable operating conditions. This high energy consumption not only drives up operational costs but also introduces potential reliability issues, such as nozzle blockages from dust or particles.

Challenges in Manual Adjustment: Adjusting conventional positioners typically involves isolating the control loop and manually configuring parameters such as zero points and stroke. This process can be labor-intensive and prone to errors, particularly when dealing with nonlinearities in valve operation.

Composition and Principle of Intelligent Valve Positioners


Intelligent valve positioners consist of several key components:

(1) Microprocessor-Controlled Electronic Module: This module includes a HART communication protocol and a local user interface switch, facilitating digital communication with control systems.
(2) Electric/Pneumatic Converter Module: This module integrates a piezoelectric valve that adjusts pneumatic pressure based on electronic control signals. (3) Valve Position Sensor: Essential for providing feedback on valve position, ensuring precise control adjustments.

Working Principle

Intelligent positioners utilize 4-20 mA signals for bidirectional digital communication. Here’s how they operate:

(1) The microprocessor receives the 4-20 mA signal and compares it with feedback from the valve position sensor.
(2) Based on this comparison, the microprocessor calculates necessary adjustments to the valve's position.
(3) It sends control signals to the piezoelectric valve, which adjusts the pneumatic pressure to achieve precise valve positioning.
(4) This dynamic adjustment capability enhances responsiveness and accuracy across various operating conditions, improving overall system performance.

Adjustment and Maintenance

Setting Adjustments: Intelligent positioners offer flexibility in calibration. Users can adjust settings such as gain, action direction, and operational characteristics through a local user interface switch. This can be done without the need for additional tools, simplifying setup and maintenance procedures.

Low Maintenance Requirements: These positioners feature built-in diagnostic and monitoring functions, which enable proactive maintenance. They also consume significantly less compressed air compared to their conventional counterparts, ensuring efficient and reliable long-term operation.

Considerations in Practical Use

Load Capacity Requirements: Proper operation of intelligent positioners requires sufficient supply voltage and specific load capacity. Failure to meet these requirements can compromise performance and reliability.

Optimizing Dead Zones: Setting an appropriate dead zone is crucial. While smaller dead zones enhance positioning accuracy, excessively small settings can lead to increased wear on moving parts like the piezoelectric valve and feedback rod, potentially impacting longevity and reliability.

Installation Best Practices: Correct installation is critical. It ensures a closed-loop negative feedback between the positioner, stem, and feedback rod. This setup optimizes linear performance and minimizes operational deviations.

Flow Characteristics: Choosing positioners with suitable flow characteristics aligned with valve core processing ensures optimal performance and meets process requirements effectively.

Maintenance Considerations: Promptly addressing module failures and conducting regular maintenance checks are essential for maintaining optimal positioner functionality and avoiding costly replacements.


Intelligent valve positioners offer significant advantages over conventional models by enhancing control precision, reducing energy consumption, and improving overall reliability in industrial process applications. By leveraging advanced digital communication and dynamic control capabilities, these positioners play a pivotal role in achieving safe, efficient, and cost-effective production operations.