> How much of a risk taker are you?
Posted at Thursday, 10 June, 2021

How much of a risk taker are you?

Paul Skade
By Karl May
ERIKS Product Manager Fluid Power

I have been very fortunate to have spent the past 23 years within the fluid power arena which I am very passionate about and love to this day! 

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Working in a hazardous or aggressive environment, risk is always on your mind. But by doing the right thing for safety, are you raising your financial risk to danger level? Fortunately, making the right component choices for your safety circuits can ensure you protect production and profitability as well as personnel. Enter the Festo VOFC solenoid valve, the only valve with an open-ended certification and an incredibly low – and unique – failure rate... 

Festo VOFC solenoid valve


If the worst happens and a safety device fails, the consequences can be catastrophic. People can be injured, or worse. Pollutants can escape into the environment. Plant can be damaged or destroyed. And production will inevitably be lost until checks, repairs, replacements, clean-ups – and perhaps even investigations and enquiries – are completed.


So how do you make safety devices even safer, and reduce all kinds of risks across the board? By looking for safety components with a ‘productivity bonus’.

Right across industry, modern engineering and safety systems are already optimised. That means squeezing out greater efficiency and productivity now has to come down to maximising reliability and minimising downtime.  

One chemical manufacturer who has realised the potential productivity bonus of reliable safety systems is Bayer Crop Science.

Better-performing seals

The Bayer Crop Science site in Dormagen, Germany, includes a multi-purpose process development and production system. This uses flammable operating fluids, requires frequent process changeovers, and incorporates numerous interfaces and intervention points. The whole system is classified as a potentially explosive, either zone 1 or 2.

Numerous instrumentation and control technology devices protect the system, by switching  dosing, exhaust, steam and other valves to failsafe positions. The actuators are activated by solenoid valves with an SIL classification which matches or exceeds the classification of the entire safety loop. 

Most solenoid valves for use in safety instrument circuits are certified for between 4 and 8 years before they have to be changed. With over 1,500 valves across safety-related and non-safety-related circuits, for Bayer that would equate to significant regular downtime, lost production and component replacement costs.

The weak point of most valves is the seal, which – because it can become porous – is a finite product. The commonly-used piston spool valves have up to six seals, increasing the risk of seal failure. But by choosing Festo VOFC solenoid valves, Bayer maximised valve life and optimised safety and productivity. That’s because the Festo VOFC series incorporates a hard-sealed polyurethane valve seat rather than the usual soft seal. 

Planning 2,410 years ahead

Certified up to SIL 3, these valves guarantee a failure probability rate of 2.41 E-4 and a safe failure fraction of 75%. In other words, there’s a predicted maximum of one faulty operation in 2,410 switching cycles.

In a safety loop which undergoes an annual failsafe inspection, a faulty operation will only occur once in 2,410 years.

This incredible low – and unique – failure rate is why the Festo VOFC solenoid valve is the only one with open-ended certification. There’s no specified due date for change, no downtime for maintenance, no replacement cost, and no lost production as a result of valve failure – until around the year 4000! 

Now with added reliability

With that kind of unimaginably-low failure rate, it might seem impossible to add even more reliability to your safety system. But you can.

The Festo DFPD-C quarter turn actuator is just as well-equipped for the chemical industry environment as the VOFC valve it’s designed to work with.

Its end cap is hard anodised to prevent scratches. The screws for adjusting the end position are blow-out-proof under pressure. Perfect alignment of the actuator and process valve are ensured by shaft centring rings. And captive, non-ferrous spring packages provide additional security against spring fracture. 


Festo VOFC solenoid valve

Using NAMUR interface, the Festo DFPD-C can be connected to the Festo VOFC with no additional piping. So you not only save on the time and cost of installing piping, but also reduce the risk of installation errors, the cost of maintenance, and potential leakage points.

Saving on safety

Safety is never a cost-saving issue. Personnel must be protected at all costs. Preventing pollution is non-negotiable. SIL certification is mandatory in the kind of environments encountered in the chemical industry and many others.

But the Festo VOFC solenoid valve, and Festo DFPD-C quarter turn actuator, prove that risk reduction can also reduce costs, and give you a productivity bonus into the bargain. 

Find your local Branch here to discuss your valve needs.


#Festo #FestoValve #Valves #SolenoidValve

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