Category Archive: News & Events

A Brief History of Valves & Valve Automation

While valves and valve automation may seem advanced, they are by no means new. In fact, these devices have existed for over two centuries and have played a part in some of civilization’s biggest technological leaps. There are many industries that rely on automated valves and equipment, including:

  • Food and Beverage
  • OEM Machinery
  • Oil and Gas

From ancient times through the Industrial Revolution and into the modern day, valves have served a vital role in society. Let’s explore the fascinating history behind these devices.

history of valves

The Advent of Valves by the Romans to the Steam Engine

We can trace the first usage of valves back to the Romans, who engineered these devices as part of their intricate canal systems. These early valves were made of bronze and contained high amounts of lead, allowing them to be corrosion resistant, ductile, and very strong.

Romans used an early version of the diaphragm valve crafted out of leather to control the temperature and flow of water into household bathtubs. Evidence also suggests the use of mixing valves, angular valves, and check valves for use in preventing backflow.

The Rise of the Steam Engine

While valves continued to be used throughout the centuries, the Industrial Revolution marks the true start of using complex valves systems. In 1705, Thomas Newcomen transformed steam engine technology by using a cylinder to surround the vacuum and piston. The force generated by this system pumped the engine’s shaft, creating a new and innovative type of steam engine that is now considered one of the precursors to automobile travel.

Valves were a vital component in helping regulate the engine’s high-pressure steam, as they opened during each pump. Legend even has it that Newcomen’s workers helped invent valve automation by rigging a rope system to open the valves, so they didn’t have to do it themselves.

Several decades later, inventor James Watt set out to improve the efficiency of Newcomen’s steam engine. Watt’s take on the engine was significantly more complex than Newcomen’s, as it relied more heavily on valves. The inventor added valves above and below the piston to even out the strokes and developed a steam throttling valve to regulate steam flow.

industrial revolution steam engineThe Industrial Revolution Paves the Way for Valve Automation

Beginning in the 1700s, the Industrial Revolution marked a dramatic shift away from agrarian societies and toward an industrial, urban lifestyle. This historical era began in Britain and spread to many countries across the globe by the mid-19th century. It was largely enabled by advances in steam power, which came about with the improvement of complex valve systems.

The Industrial Revolution had a number of advantages. Technology such as automated valves, the spinning jenny, and electric appliances began to reduce the amount of labor it took to manufacture goods, which allowed workers to take on specialized professions. This not only sped up the manufacturing process, but also created specialist training jobs.

Now that factories could manufacture products with ease, these products suddenly became more accessible and affordable to the general population. Quality of life began to improve as people were easily able to acquire new appliances, clothes, shoes, and other desirables that were once considered luxuries.

electric actuator inventor

The Electric Actuator

Another advancement in automated valve systems began in the 1970s when Brent Jensen began looking for ways to improve his family’s business. Jensen and an old friend created an electric actuator to adjust the height of a wheelchair. Up until this point, motors only functioned with a rotational motion; however, Jensen’s electric actuator made it possible for a motor to create linear movement. Many of today’s automated valve systems utilize both electric and pneumatic actuators.

BI-TORQ Valve Automation Is Here for You Today!

At BI-TORQ, our decades of experience enable us to supply cost-effective, high quality valves and valve automation equipment to clients across a wide range of industries. Our extensive product line includes butterfly valves, ball valves, actuators, and more. Contact us today to learn more and discuss your valve automation needs.

valve automation


Product Announcement 01/11/2017

BI-TORQ Valve Automation is now managing the sales efforts of Strahman Valves’ line of piston-type sampling valves. The shift allows our current customer base to have full access to the sampling line under the BI-TORQ banner of products.

The reasoning for the shift was a fairly straightforward one for Strahman Valves. While sampling valves, a type of valve used to take a representative sample or portion of a liquid, gas, or solid for testing purposes are not quarter-turn valves like the rest of BI-TORQ’s portfolio of products, they do fit in nicely with our MRO and PVF distributors who call on chemical, food and beverage, pulp and paper and pharmaceutical accounts daily. The ability to offer automated valves, safety products and now sampling valves will allow our distributors to offer a complete suite of products for plant replacement needs or the next bid for expansion.sv8-d

For those companies that already are dealing with Strahman Valves, the process doesn’t change for quotations or shipments – both will come out of our headquarters in Bethlehem, PA. The advantage you get is access to BI-TORQ’s line of products. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide product to just about any customer with our 5 main categories of products – automated valves, safety products, fire safety thermal shut-off assemblies, retro-fit automation packages and customized mounting hardware.

If you are new to sampling valves, but eager to learn about the applications that can be found at your customers, BI-TORQ will lead the way with help. We can offer our proven style of training and service via webinars, lunch and learns or joint sales calls.

The Strahman Valves sampling line includes three bases series: the QA series – a quick advance ¼ turn type; the SV series – a resilient seated type; and a MS series – a metal seated type. The line also as specific lines for pulp and paper and sanitary applications. Each of the series can customized to suit the needs of the application including, but not limited to piston extensions, heat jackets, materials or construction and end connections.

In case you missed our article in Valve World Magazine

In case you missed it, BI-TORQ Valve Automation was the cover story of Valve World’s Control & Smart Valves Special. We were very excited to be able to showcase our capabilities and demonstrate the fact that we are a leader in not only the valve automation and customized mounting hardware industries, but now in the thermal shut-off industry as well.

Take a few minutes to read Valve World’s Sarah Bradley interview with Dave Marut, BI-TORQ Valve Automation’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Click to read the full article
If you’d like to learn more about how our thermal shut-off valves work or where you might find opportunities for them, click on the link below.

Sign up for a Product Webinar


At the beginning of September, BI-TORQ Valve Automation became part of the Strahman Valve family. We could not be any more pleased.
When I first had the pleasure of meeting CEO Augie Percoco and the rest of the Strahman team earlier this year at their world headquarters in Pennsylvania, I was struck by the similarity of the Strahman and BI-TORQ cultures. Both companies put the customer first, ensure that our products are first rate, and maintain a positive team atmosphere in our organizations. As westarted to think about becoming a part of the Strahman family, making sure we had a good “fit” was important; there is no doubt we made the right choice.
Over the past 35 years, our family-owned business worked diligently to secure our reputation as a reliable, ethical, and customer-oriented organization. As a result, the BI-TORQ Valve Automation brand has become one of the most respected names in the industry.

We move into this next stage with tremendous pride in what we have built over the past four decades. This merger ensures that our legacy of hard work, quality products and outstanding customer service will continue well into the future. The new BI-TORQ Valve Automation is a great blend of ‘business as usual’ with an even stronger infrastructure. We look forward to serving all of our industry partners for many years into the future.

Best regards,


Dave Marut

VP Sales and Marketing, BI-TORQ Valve Automation Division