Pneumatic directional control valves have seen notable improvements and refinements in recent times. How can original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) take maximum advantage of these improvements when designing automation and piloting equipment? First, these valve manifolds are relatively small subsystems in generally much larger assemblages of automation equipment. But the right valve can open up wider degrees of freedom when designing larger automation elements. Second, automation specialists may conceptualize pneumatic components as if they were simple electrical devices, such as a light switch. But a pneumatic directional control valve works with flows of compressed air, not electrons. When you send your signal (activate the valve’s solenoid coil), the air inside the valve must be made to change direction. The speed at which it does so, and the amount of air that flows in that new direction, may be substantially affected by quite small changes in the arrangement and construction of the valve internals. Designers who slightly change the direction of their thinking can choose a pneumatic valve that takes advantage of the significant benefits highlighted in this report.