Positioner for a Control Valve: 6 Things You Should Know

PS2 by Siemens Positioner on a Control Valve

What is the Purpose of a postioner in a control valve?

A positioner for a control valve is used to adjust a valve’s position based on a desired set point for a process variable, whether it be pressure, temperature, or flow.

How does a positioner work?

Producers typically install valve positioners on the yolk or top casing of a pneumatic actuator for linear control valves. On rotary control valves, the valve positioner is installed in line with the valve and actuator stems on top of the actuator or on the side of the actuator. Installation depends on what type of actuator one uses. 

Affixing the positioner to the actuators allows the positioner to measure the stem travel (linear valves) or degree of rotation (rotary valves). This also changes the position of the valve as required based on the input signal from the instrument controller.

When the process variable differs from the desired set point, the instrument controller sends an electrical or pneumatic signal to the positioner. This varies its pneumatic output to the actuator to move the valve open or closed accordingly. This occurs until the process variable reaches the desired set point.

How many types of positioners are there? 

There are 3 primary types of positioners:

  • Pneumatic Valve Positioner
  • Electro-Pneumatic (EP) Valve Positioner
  • Digital Valve Positioner

What is a Pneumatic Valve Positioner? 

A Pneumatic Valve Positioner receives a pneumatic signal (typically 3-15 or 6-30 psi) from a controller. It then then send a corresponding pneumatic signal to a pneumatic valve actuator.

What is an eP Positioner? 

An Electro-Pneumatic Positioner, sometimes abbreviated "EP Positioner," receives an electric signal (typically 4-20mA or 0-10 VDC) from a controller. It then sends a corresponding pneumatic signal to a pneumatic valve actuator. 

EP Valve Positioners may also be referred to as “analog positioners.” This is because the electrical input to the positioner is an analog signal.

What is a Digital Valve Positioner?

A Digital Valve Positioner receives an electric signal (typically 4-20mA, HART, PROFIBUS, or Foundation Fieldbus) from a controller. It then sends a corresponding pneumatic signal to a pneumatic valve actuator.

The electrical input to a digital positioner can be a digital signal, which allows more advanced capabilities for the user. Some refer to digital valve positioners as “smart positioners.”

The Siemens PS2 is one example of a digital valve positioner. The PS2 can remotely monitor and control any pneumatic valve. We offer it with many different communication protocols to meet the needs of all end users.


For further information about how a control valve positioner can improve your operation, contact your local Kimray store or authorized distributor.

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