Linear electric actuators and 4.0 industry principles

Electric linear actuators and industry 4.0: automation and robotics meet MecVel applications

Robotics is one of the pillars of the industry 4.0 trend due to its transversal use in several applications. MecVel has decided to focus on the role of electric linear actuators in these fields, gaining in-depth experience developing specific projects.

Electric linear actuators and robotics: how do they integrate?

One of the central purposes of industrial automation is to make the processes “smarter”, which in terms of production means increasing efficiency and productivity through integration and optimization of different technologies that must communicate and collaborate most effectively.

The electric linear actuator, in particular, is the perfect solution for those applications requiring positioning accuracy with relatively high load capacity and speed (15000 N and 150 mm/s max.). These specifics can adapt to AGVs or Automated Guided Vehicles applications.

The result is the ideal match between mobile robots with several features and usages and electric linear actuators, thanks to their ease of installation, simplicity of control and reliability.

The main benefits that electric linear actuators provide to AGVs can be summarized in:
• They use an electric system, which is perfectly matchable with AGVs that, due to “limited” dimensions, can’t have on board components required by hydraulic or pneumatic systems
• They can handle intermediate positions, offer a good repeatability of motion and have a higher precision, if compared to hydraulic or pneumatic systems
• They can be combined with any kind of servo motor thanks to tailored flanges, for a significant increase in terms of performance
• They are relatively compact in terms of overall dimensions, if compared to the force they can provide
• They do not need particular maintenance

AGVs and logistics

AGVs are widely used in logistics to automate and make faster storage and picking processes of goods from the warehouse.

Mobile robots must mount electric linear actuators to control some movements required by these operations, such as the AGV steering and lifting of the loading platform.

AGVs and agriculture

Looking at agriculture more sustainably, the use of AGVs in farming and zootechnics allows for waste reduction, and optimization of resources.

MecVel is specialized in different handlings involved in the feeding process, supporting the breeding industry. Additionally, electric linear actuators can be used in greenhouses, vineyards and for more general agricultural activities.

AGVs and industry

The highest expression of robotics is in cobots, or collaborative robots, that can be placed along large assembly lines to facilitate and automate some mounting processes, as the easiest and most repetitive ones.

Electric linear actuators can handle motorized arms to AGVs, focussing on industrial fields such as automotive, beverage and plastics processing.

Electric linear actuators and automation: MecVel applications

A fundamental ability of the company is to know how to constantly innovate itself, anticipating the main market trends and shaping its range of products to make it always up-to-date and able to meet the new needs of linear motion in industrial automation. This must be added to the use of “green” technology, as the electric system has no environmental impact in terms of pollution, in compliance with the industry 4.0 concepts of energy efficiency and sustainable production.

Electric linear actuators and intralogistics

Moving goods inside a factory, especially with large dimensions, requires effective solutions. One of the most important online marketplaces has chosen to use AGVs for intralogistics in its warehouses, as they are automatic, safe and fast systems for storing, moving and picking products.

Electric linear actuators developed for this application must answer specific needs: regulate the height of the AGV loading platform according to the kind and quantity of packages to be transported and placed in the warehouse. This requires great flexibility, to optimize the operator activities and the warehouse, which assumes a more “dynamic” role.

The product chosen for this project is ALI2 DC: this model can be placed in small spaces, being able at the same time to provide a load capacity of 2000/2500 N at 20/30 mm/s, while the encoder on board gives constant feedback on the position reached by the stroke.

Electric linear actuators and zootechnics

MecVel manufactures electric linear actuators for zootechnics, dedicated to particular to AGVs used for feeding systems and the distribution of forage.

In this case, electric linear actuators handle the AGV direction through the steering,allow theopening of the upper hatch for loading the forage, regulate the press that compacts and pushes the forage through the exit points,controlling the diverter which moves the forage sideways, in order to keep clean the AGV passage.

ALI1-PF and ALI3-F are the most suitable models for these linear movements: specifically, ALI1-PF mounts the DC motor parallel to its body, in order to reduce the overall dimensions, and it is chosen when the load is not so relevant, as well as the speed (2500 N at 5,6 mm/s max.). ALI3-F DC is installed when it is required a higher force, as it can provide up to 6000 N at 12 mm/s. In both cases, limit switches on board the electric linear actuator ensure precise and reliable stroke control.

Electric linear actuators and industrial production

In terms of production processes and automation of production lines,electric linear actuators are involved in several areas, in addition to the control of AGV steering and direction: MecVel has developed solutions regarding the positioning of sensors in dosing systems for thefood industry,rather than injection/blowing devices for plastics processing..

In these fields, the AM series is the most suitable, together with the smallest sizes of the EC series, as developed to orient itself towards servo actuation: this means fast, repetitive, precise movements, with medium-heavy loads (up to 15000 N). These products can be interchangeable with pneumatic cylinders, while ball screws and servo motors complete the configuration, ensuring high performance and long life.

n terms of AGVs used in automotive, the control of AGV steering and direction can be performed by a special version of ALI2 DC with double screw, able to provide up to 2000 N at 10 mm/s.

This shows the versatility of MecVel, that since 1987 manufactures electric linear actuators supported by an important customization service, that allows configuring each product in order to satisfy the technical requirements of the application to which it is intended, to get exactly the linear motion desired.

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