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.

Rotork wins Syncrude contract

Valve actuation market leader Rotork Controls has signed a purchase agreement with the world's largest producer of crude oil from oil sands.

Emerson helps to increase production capacity

Eka Chemicals NL - an Akzo Nobel division located at Maastricht, The Netherlands - has successfully increased process uptime and production capacity.

Rotork wins water work

Rotork has recently won four contracts from the UK water industry.

Long leak-free life

Hoke High-Cycle 7223D RotoBall bidirectional ball valves feature a high-performance Delta stem seal designed to extend their operating life to between 50,000 and 100,000 cycles.

Tiny actuators with but one moving part

Addressing the large applications gap between macroscopic motors and micro-electromechanical systems, Nanomuscle actuators from Steadlands International (Northumberland, UK) use the properties of shape-memory alloys to create tiny actuators that can be produced at a fraction of the size and cost of traditional electric motors.

Extended leak-free cycle life

Hoke High-Cycle 7223D RotoBall® bi-directional ball valves feature a high performance Delta stem seal designed to extend their operating life to between 50,000 and 100,000 cycles, depending on system configuration, with leak-free performance.

New control valves brochure

Red Valve offers a full range of control valves in sizes 1” to 72”.

Linear voice coil assembly

BEI Kimco Magnetics Division has released a fully enclosed linear voice coil assembly with internal bearings.

OneSteel appoints sales manager

OneSteel Piping Systems, Australia, has confirmed Razmick Priantz as the National Sales & Marketing Manager Valves for the Valves & Actuation division of the company.

Packing sets keep valves environmentally clean

A range of high performance control packings, designed to achieve long-term low emission performance from high cycling, fire safe control valves, is now available from Garlock (UK).


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.