With an increasing market desire for energy efficient solutions, a demand for increased production and quality, an increasing awareness of environmental impacts, and new safety concerns amidst a global pandemic, electromechanical actuation (EMA) offers a beneficial alternative to traditional fluid power technologies (both hydraulic and pneumatic).
EMA offers superior:
- Precision and Speed – Increases throughput, increases quality, and reduces waste with accurate and repeatable positioning and force.
- Power Density – Provides high force and speed in a compact design.
- Flexibility – Programmable servo-driven units allow for changes to motion profiles at the touch of a button, without having to change out tooling.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – Lowers TCO by being energy efficient and less costly to support over their installed life as compared to fluid power alternatives requiring filters, oil/compressed air, and more frequent maintenance.
The table below further demonstrates the differences between EMA and pneumatic technologies. Compared side by side, it’s clear that EMA can provide many industry benefits over pneumatic actuation.
Electromechanical Actuators come in many forms and can manage various applications
Electromechanical linear actuators (EMA) come in various forms. Most commonly, EMA’s consist of a motor and screw mechanism combination. The screw coverts the rotary motion of the motor into linear motion at the load point. Motors can vary depending on the application, from small to large, AC to DC, and simple induction to servo based. The screws can also vary, but the most common are roller screw, ball screw, and ACME.
While there isn’t one solution that completely fits all applications, Exlar® has found that a brushless DC servo motor combined with a high precision crafted roller screw fits a wide variety of industry needs.
The brushless servo motor provides scalable speed and variable positioning while maintaining pinpoint accuracy and repeatability and high reliability with lower maintenance.
The roller screw provides the highest reliability and precision, greatest efficiency, and offers the longest life compared to other screw technologies, i.e., ball screw and ACME screw.
Exlar found that integrating those two components together provides the best linear electromechanical actuation package for many high cycling, high force, precision applications in industrial markets – including the Food & Beverage and Packaging industries.
Three Types of Electromechanical Actuators
In a complete EMA solution, a motor, screw mechanism, and motor controller / amplifier are required. Those three pieces can be supplied in several combinations to suit a variety of needs, but the three most common are laid out in the table below.
Reducing Total Cost of Ownership with Exlar EMAs
The factor that often gives those considering EMA technology pause is cost. EMAs typically cost more than pneumatic actuators, when looking only at the component acquisition cost. However, life-cycle costs of EMAs are typically lower and more beneficial when considering energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs and down-time, and production efficiencies with higher machine cycles and precision.
Unnecessary component costs can be eliminated when considering Exlar’s range of standard and custom product options. Consider the material an actuator is composed of, for example. An EMA made with anodized /coated aluminum can cost up to 50% less than one made with stainless steel. Further, lead times for anodized aluminum are significantly less – up to 16 weeks shorter.
The Food & Beverage and Packaging industries can meet regulatory and safety compliance while affording investment in EMA technologies. Many of Exlar’s customers have realized more cost-effective EMA solutions by purchasing an anodized / coated aluminum actuator and building a stainless-steel enclosure or shield to function as a barrier. This barrier would protect the actuator from corrosive contamination, while also adhering to regulatory and safety requirements in areas of potential product contamination.
Exlar EMAs and Food & Beverage and Packaging Industries
In a market that is increasingly working towards lowering one’s carbon footprint and thinking about safety more dynamically amidst a global pandemic, adopting EMA technology can help the Food & Beverage and Packaging Industries work towards realizing those goals. EMA is cleaner operating, more powerful and precise, and offers more flexible solutions than pneumatic technology. Further, the TCO can be recouped over the installed life or even more quickly when unnecessary component costs are eliminated.