Meter-in is a method by which a flow control valve is placed in a hydraulic circuit in such a manner that there is a restriction in the amount of fluid flowing to the actuator. Figure 6.38(a) shows a meter-in operation in a hydraulic system.
If the flow control valve were not to be located, the extension and retraction of the actuator which in this case is a cylinder, would have proceeded at an unrestricted rate. The presence of the flow control valve enables restriction in the fluid flow to the cylinder and thereby slowing down its extension. In the event of the flow direction being reversed, the check valve ensures that the return flow bypasses the flow control valve.
For the same meter-in operation, Figure 6.38(b) shows shifting of the flow control to the other line. This enables the actuator to extend at an unrestricted rate but conversely the flow to the actuator during the retracting operation can be restricted so that the operation takes place at a reduced rate. The meter-in operation is quite accurate with a positive load. But with an overrunning load over which the actuator has no control, the cylinder begins to cavitate.