Procuring Industrial Equipment and Supplies

How to Choose the Right Type of Solenoid for Your New Industrial Process

If you are in the early stages of designing a complicated industrial operation, then you will have many different components to consider and must carefully map out the process flow. A key decision will involve your choice of solenoid, so what do you need to consider? 

What Is a Solenoid?

A solenoid is a relatively simple device consisting of a coil of insulated wire wrapped around a movable component made of solid steel or iron. The core itself is magnetic and is activated when any current is applied to the coil. 

Once the current is activated, a strong magnetic field is achieved and this helps to pull the central core in an upward direction, while the central component reverses its path when the magnetic field is deactivated. This allows the simple solenoid to be used in a variety of different industrial applications, wherever an open or closed conduit is required as part of a manufacturing process.

However, there are different types of solenoid and as you set up your new industrial process, you will have to decide which type is best for long-term operation, productivity and (in some cases) safety.

Open or Closed?

For most applications, the choice begins with a valve that is either normally closed or open. In the first case the conduit or pipeline is opened when the solenoid coil is activated and is closed when the reverse applies. In a process that is normally called "inching," the normally open solenoid valve closes the conduit or pipeline when power is applied instead.

In principle, you need to determine how long you want your supply conduit to be open for. If the pipe should be flowing more than at rest and the open time for the valve is considerably longer than its state at rest, then you would normally choose the open solenoid valve. To the contrary, when you only need to apply the feed (whether it be steam or liquid) to the process in short bursts and you can expect the pipeline to be closed most of the time, then your normal selection would be the closed solenoid valve. 

More Complicated Situations

Nevertheless, it is possible to choose a type of valve that is able to open and close according to a more complex timeline and this is known as a "double acting" valve. You further need to consider safety, especially if high temperatures are to be encountered in the vicinity of the valve, or if they are being used to channel dangerous gases. In the latter case, you can choose a solenoid valve that will automatically shut itself down if certain "emergency" parameters are met and can only be restarted manually. Other valves are available should any fire conditions be present and where a normally open solenoid valve would be potentially dangerous.

Custom-Made Options

If you have a particularly unusual situation to satisfy, then you should get in touch with a solenoid manufacturer, who may be able to build you a custom-made one instead.