Actuators are devices that convert electrical or other forms of energy into mechanical energy, which facilitates motion in a part, component, and so on to perform a task. This is why actuators find applications in moving parts of industrial equipment and machines, hydraulic equipment used across industry segments such as healthcare, defense, robotics, automotive parts, automation systems, and more. With the rising innovation through Industry 4.0 and other initiatives as well as the demand for automation, commercial actuators design has evolved owing to technological advancements. Electric linear actuators are used in most industries that require advanced applications ; hence, linear actuator design has entered a new realm to accommodate complex motion as well as control. Additionally, custom electric linear actuator designs have gained much traction over the last few years. These advancements and the demand for customization have set the foundation for future applications of commercial actuators across industries. This post discusses modern actuation systems, customization options, and more.
Advancements in Electric Linear Actuators Designs
While actuators have been used for several years, a lot has changed for the better owing to custom actuator designs and their possible integration into existing systems. Here are some pointers that reflect the advancements in actuator design.
- Miniaturization : There is much emphasis on small-sized products and systems and the need to fit them in compact spaces without compromising on quality and performance. The same applies to actuators. The technological advancements in automotive, defense, and other sectors have enabled size reduction of some parts or devices as required. This has driven the demand for compact sized electric linear actuators.
- Reduced noise and vibration : Reducing vibration increases the operating life of any machine. While brushless motors are often used to reduce noise, actuators are designed to improve isolation mechanisms by using certain rubber materials or through a built-in acoustic insulation. Sensor-based signal processing techniques and algorithms are also used to reduce noise.
- Dynamic braking and control : While actuators enable speed and motion, they must also control the machine or vehicle to halt it. The way an actuator is mounted determines the coast distance it will take to stop the machine or engine. Advanced actuators have a feature called dynamic braking which involves electronic leads that undergo forced shorting. This this reduces the coast distance and improves positioning capability.
- Smart communication: With the rise of IoT, inter-device communication must be efficient and accurate. Actuators can be easily integrated with industrial systems, which enables remote monitoring, control, and data analysis. They have the ability to communicate across a network in real time which facilitates predictive maintenance, performance optimization, end-of-stroke indication, condition monitoring, and so on using various protocols such as IP or Ethernet. This helps improve workflow strategies and maintenance efficiency.
- Self-monitoring and repair ability: Smart actuators can monitor their own condition and status. They sense changes in temperature, weight, pressure, and so on, depending on the application, and auto shut down in case of an overload. They also gather data in terms of number of rotations, cycles, and so on. The electronics in these actuators can determine if there is enough voltage available to do the required job.
- Energy efficiency: Advanced electric linear actuators contribute to increased energy efficiency , which can be attributed to efficient motor designs, optimized power transmission systems, and intelligent power management techniques. These improvements help reduce energy consumption and subsequent costs. They also reduce the carbon footprint resulting in environmental benefits
Why Custom Actuation Systems Are Important Aside from Advancements
According to a market research report, the global actuator market is projected to grow to $98.92 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 12.05% in forecast period, 2022-2029. Its market size in 2022 was from $44.60 billion. This high growth rate reflects the demand for actuation systems in various industries. The report also states that automotive is expected to top this list of industries. The buyers of actuation systems are a mix of small and big players. Most mid-sized to big players opt for custom linear actuators as they enhance the overall product or system efficiency and boost performance. Here are some pointers why customization is an important aspect even when implementing advanced actuation systems.
- Diverse industries use actuators: First, there are diverse industries looking for actuation systems, and all of them have varied requirements. For instance, medical and automotive sectors use actuators in hydraulic applications; however, their requirements are extremely different. In the automotive industries, the hydraulics is used in braking systems, while in the medical sector it is used in lifting or moving beds, equipment arms, and so on.
- Meet application-specific requirements: Additionally, the application of actuators greatly varies with every business within the same industry. Each business has specific application requirements pertaining to their product functionality. For instance, within the automotive sector, there are multiple vehicle and automotive component manufacturers. Each of them may have specific requirements in terms of speed, force, torque, motion angles, control, and so on. Also, customization enables meeting other specific requirements such as size, weight, fitment in compact spaces, and so on.
- Intellectual property rights: Developing advanced custom actuation systems require a high level of engineering expertise and intellectual property gained through significant research and innovation. Custom actuators have unique features and functionalities. All of these help differentiate a product or system in the market, providing a competitive advantage over standardized solutions. This increases the credibility of the actuator manufacturer, and also offers competitive advantage to the OEM.
- Cost efficiency: While significant cost may be involved in making customized systems, this may prove cost effective over a period of time and hence useful for long term. This is because custom actuators are developed specifically for a particular system and hence offer better precision, accuracy, fitment, and so on than most standard actuators. This may boost production throughput, reduce waste, repairs, and maintenance.
With much focus on automation, business across industries require modern actuation systems. Both technological advancements and custom options go hand in hand to build a perfect actuation system that suits specific requirements of a business. If you are an OEM looking to upgrade your machines or processing systems, ensure you incorporate advanced and customized actuation systems that meet specific requirements . Venture Manufacturing is a reliable manufacturer and supplier of a variety of electric linear actuators such as heavy duty, high speed, and motorized. They have decades of market presence and technical expertise because of the opportunity to work with clients from diverse sectors, and hence can offer custom actuator designs.