Actuation refers to the process of converting energy into motion in various systems and devices. It’s a crucial component in a myriad of technologies, ranging from simple mechanisms to complex machinery.

Actuation is the mechanism of initiating and controlling movements in various systems, which could be mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, or pneumatic, among others. This concept is widely used in industries like robotics, automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing. It encompasses a wide range of components and techniques designed to convert various forms of energy into physical motion.

Small Rotork actuators

The Fluid System Division of valve actuation specialist Rotork has introduced a new range of small quarter-turn pneumatic actuators, enabling the proven benefits of Rotork's larger, heavy-duty scotch yoke actuator designs to be applied to the operation of valves as small as 25mm (1 inch).

Proportional valves benefit from digital control

Affordable processing power has been strategic in allowing the migration of digital closed loop control technology

Safety for actuated valves

Whenever valves are actuated by means of pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical power sources, Smith Flow Control can supply key-exchange interlocks which can be easily integrated into the actuator operation.

Actuators for UK flood defence

Rotork electric valve actuators are being used throughout a river level management automation project performed by the Environment Agency in the region of East Anglia, UK.

Easy process solutions with diaphragm valves

The new diaphragm valve systems from Burkert Fluid Control Systems combine with the company's easy process solutions to substantially reduce total cost of ownership.

Bigger valve is child’s play

Burkert Fluid Control Systems has introduced its largest globe valve - a 4in model the size of a small child.

Pneumatic systems speed up palletiser

When paper manufacturer Australian Paper needed to speed up its automated Boxed paper palletising system, Robotic Automation (Australia) stepped in to help.

FCX buys Controlvisions

Global flow control specialist FCX International has acquired American pharmaceutical specialist Controlvisions.

Solent & Pratt win contract

Solent & Pratt has been awarded a contract by Novaspect Specialty Products of Chicago Illinois to provide high performance butterfly valves and actuators for the Upgrade Jet Engine Air Induction System Phase IV at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee.

Valve has integrated cooling system

CCI Sweden (formerly BTG Valves) has further modified its VLB steam-conditioning valve for use in high- and/or low-pressure systems in the process industry.


The primary devices that carry out actuation are called actuators. These can be categorized as:

  1. Mechanical Actuators: Convert rotary motion to linear motion or vice versa, often using gears, rails, or screws.
  2. Electric Actuators: Utilize electric motors to generate motion, controlled by varying voltage, current, or electromagnetic fields.
  3. Hydraulic Actuators: Use the pressure of a liquid (usually oil) to induce motion, often to generate high forces in heavy machinery.
  4. Pneumatic Actuators: Operate using compressed air or gas to create motion, often found in industrial automation setups.
  5. Thermal or Magnetic Actuators: Leverage thermal expansion or magnetic fields to generate motion, usually in micro or nano-scale applications.

2. Control Systems

These systems are essential in regulating the functioning of actuators, often utilizing feedback loops to maintain precision and efficiency. They may include:

  1. Manual Controls: Simple interfaces like levers or switches to control actuators.
  2. Automatic Controls: Utilize sensors and microcontrollers to automatically control the actuation process.
  3. Software Interfaces: Complex control setups involving software platforms integrated with hardware components to enable sophisticated control strategies.

3. Power Sources

Different actuation systems require different power sources, which could range from electrical batteries, hydraulic pumps, or pneumatic compressors.


Actuation finds its application in various fields:

  1. Robotics: In the control of robotic arms, legs, or other appendages.
  2. Aerospace: Utilized in the functioning of various components like flaps, landing gear, and engines.
  3. Automotive: In control systems like power steering, braking systems, and throttle control.
  4. Industrial Machinery: In machines used for manufacturing, packaging, and other industrial processes.
  5. Healthcare: In devices like prosthetics and other healthcare equipment.
  6. Consumer Electronics: In gadgets and appliances, for functions like zooming in cameras or adjusting settings.

Future Trends

With advancements in technology, actuation systems are expected to become more sophisticated, incorporating features like:

  1. Internet of Things (IoT): Integration with IoT for smarter and more connected control systems.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Incorporating AI for predictive maintenance and automated control strategies.
  3. Miniaturization: Development of smaller and more compact actuators for use in micro and nano-scale applications.


Actuation is a dynamic and evolving field, playing a critical role in modern technology and industry. It encompasses a wide range of components, systems, and techniques that convert energy into physical motion, finding applications in a variety of sectors and continually evolving to incorporate new advancements and innovations.