In recent times we have seen a dramatic shift from the use of fluid-operated actuators to mechanically operated units. This change has been driven by several key advantages of using Electromechanical systems to Pneumatic of Hydraulic lifting platforms.
The inherent advantage of a mechanical actuator is that they do not require a large amount of fluid to be operated, whether this be liquid or gas. As such, there is no risk of hydraulic/pneumatic fluid leaking from an electromechanical actuator and potentially causing damage or contaminating products. The pressures necessary to preform lifting using fluids are also extreme and, should a leak occur, not only will there be contamination but a possible failure of the actuator as well. Within a product utilising a mechanical lead screw, the only fluids present are the oils and grease used to lubricate the actuator. These can often be specified by the user to be FDA approved, suitable for vacuums, or have specific densities and viscosities to suit an application.
Another benefit of electromechanical actuation is that it is possible to achieve faster response times than pneumatic or hydraulic solutions. This is because they do not rely on fluid flow, which can result in a delayed response to immediate action requests. With an electromechanical Actuator or Screw Jack system, immediate action can be dictated by a motor/controller setup or simple hand wheel to accelerate, decelerate, or stop with direct, immediate transmission of power. This has obvious advantages when used in many high-speed applications and maintains the high level of precision often associated with pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders.
Pneumatic and hydraulic systems have several large moving parts, such as pumps, valves, and hoses, which can be prone to wear, causing leaks and failures. Electromechanical systems utilise a similarly large number of parts but rely on hard wearing materials such as steel lead screws and bronze lifting nuts to withstand load. Due to the robust nature of the materials used and precision manufacturing, these products will rarely require servicing or maintenance if used correctly.
Operation of electromechanical solutions tends to be much quieter than pneumatic or hydraulic solutions. These alternative actuators can produce a lot of noise from the necessary pump systems, especially if they are tasked with handling high pressure or load. The contrasting quiet operation of electromechanical systems provides a more suitable and pleasant solution for applications where noise should be kept to a minimum, such as within the medical industry, laboratory settings, or to simply create a quieter working environment for operators.
Electromechanical actuation systems only require, at most, an electrical source to drive them. In contrast, hydraulic and pneumatic systems require a constant supply of compressed air or fluid, as well as a necessary electrical input which can be costly to generate and maintain. Electromechanical systems will often not require input power when holding a load stationary and will therefore not use any energy when not driving a load. For a pneumatic or hydraulic system to hold a position, a continuous pressure must be present and therefore a continuous electrical input. This ability to effectively enter a ‘stand-by mode’ means electromechanical systems will be more energy efficient and cost-effective in the long run.
These five points highlight some of the main reasons we at Kelston Actuation specialise in this area of precision, linear movement but there are a host of other advantages to electromechanical actuation too.
For instance, the increased flexibility it gives you for designing custom system layouts, how much smaller a system can be to achieve the same performance, and even how they can be safer – without the need for potentially hazardous fluids. We are understandably biased towards electromechanical power because we specialise in designing and manufacturing components and systems that leverage it. We understand some of the benefits of pneumatic and hydraulic power but we strongly believe that for every fluid-based lifting arrangement, there can be and equally impressive and beneficial electromechanical solution.
So, if you have a custom need or would like to talk to our UK-based design team about a unique project you have coming up, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free design consultation.