Overcoming Labor Constraints with Factory Automation
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the manufacturing industry. Supply chains around the world have become long, complex, fragmented and unreliable.
To conclude our series comparing hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric actuators, we explore how electric actuators are the technology of choice when accessing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—to give you next-generation connectivity, control, and a competitive edge.
In earlier instalments we explored how hydraulic systems, the traditional mainstay of factory moving parts, can give very high power density, yet may be costly to install and maintain—and adding controllability comes at cost. We discussed how pneumatic systems present a more affordable option, however offer less power density and efficiency—and, again, little controllability without expensive add-ons.
Electric systems offer key advantages over both.
Electrics typically are more efficient than both alternatives. For instance:
Electrics are more controllable than their rivals on many counts. For example:
Though pneumatic systems do have their place, electric systems outplays them in terms of both power and dynamic control.
“The greatest advantage of an electric actuator system is its built-in capacity for data and connectivity making it the ideal fit for smart manufacturing,” says Facteon’s Ray Russell, Advanced Engineer (Controls). “Regardless of your scale of operation, if you’re not yet using data in your operation, switching to electrics is your ticket to accessing IIoT. You also avoid the costly and complex option of retrofitting sensors on an existing line—something we don’t recommend with hydraulic systems, as it can cause unwanted complications.”
Your journey towards IIoT begins with connection: linking the sensors in your automation machinery to cloud- or edge-based systems enabling data collection and storage. Your systems can then process raw machine data to produce information and analysis.
With actuators now active components in each process chain, your system can now operate predictive maintenance and real-time quality control, while also monitoring and optimizing your operation—from energy and resource efficiency (improving your sustainability) to logistical flows (fine-tuning your productivity).
“Through machine learning and vision, any trends, such as tool wear or quality/accuracy drift, can be detected and corrected,” says Ray. “Machine tuning is now possible without the need for operators to enter the line, therefore improving worker safety.”
You may find you have more data than you can initially handle. “Our engineers implement the scalable COSMOLine software,” notes Facteon’s Reinaldo Silva, Software Product Manager, “which can be customized and integrated with your existing automation and IT/OT systems if required.” The software captures and visualizes data to produce analysis, and reports alerts in real time, with all the information you need for quick decision-making brought to one easy-to-understand dashboard, which can be accessed—from anywhere—by any staff member.
As a long-term value addition, the connectivity, flexibility, and modularity of electric actuator systems will future-proof your operation. At Facteon we can assist you in adopting IIoT technology, whether it’s a step at a time or across your production line.
Speak with one of our consultants to find out about the alternatives to hydraulics for your factory automation solutions. Contact Facteon via our contact page.