Digital capabilities and cost-of-ownership win for motion control
By Tom Hoffman, CEO/President
Since our founding, R.M. Hoffman has always been in the mechanical motion control business, providing a growing line of motion solutions from leading vendors. And Tolomatic products are among the leaders on our line card, living up to the company slogan Excellence in Motion.
In our custom/semi-custom business, where we solve unique and challenging motion problems with a systems approach, Tolomatic actuators are often the top choice. Electric actuators now dominate. I’d like to tell you why.
Hoffman is a front-line witness to increasing activity in a key sector of the larger motion control market. Based on sales analysis, we can truly answer the question “What business are you in” with a new phrase: We’re in the automation business. And, the subtext is electric actuators are leading the way.
By definition, manufacturing automation is 100% about motion control. Going back, we note that pneumatic and hydraulic linear actuators have always provided dependable autonomous or semi-autonomous operation for manufacturing processes. As these processes have grown increasingly reliant on computer control (as opposed to human control) with higher duty cycles, our customers are opting for electrically-driven actuators.
From high altitude, obvious reasons yield a clue: instrumentation using digital communications on a fieldbus is easier to achieve in an all-electric environment. To automate a process, the control computer – a PLC or DCS – needs to maintain real-time access to sensors that deliver position, force, acceleration and velocity data. At the same time, the motion devices – linear and rotary – must offer increased precision plus higher reliability and up time.
It turns out that increased precision is the key driver in this shift. Electric actuators are not only highly reliable, they offer the superior precision and flexibility demanded by today’s applications. The higher initial cost of electric over pneumatic or hydraulic solutions is quickly offset by efficiency and much lower maintenance. With electric, there’s a lot more efficiency and a great deal less maintenance.
Don’t take our word for it. Tolomatic’s Aaron Dietrich offers a very clear analysis in his white papers titled Electric actuators vs. pneumatic cylinders: a comparison based on total cost of ownership and
Electric Rod Actuators vs. Hydraulic Cylinders: A comparison of the pros and cons of each technology. We offer the papers at our website. Download the PDFs here.
Electric Linear Everywhere
There’s another reason cited by our customers: The Internet of Things (IoT). For years now, Hoffman customers have used our automation products in industrial settings that employ digital fieldbus technology for the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) of automation. The clear benefits of digital automation are now being accelerated due to another economic argument. Replacing an expensive, proprietary fieldbus with an open-source Internet protocol-based wireless network and inexpensive sensors acts as rocket fuel for automating production lines.
It’s a new world out there in manufacturing and Hoffman is staying out front and on top with the Tolomatic line. To learn more about Tolomatic line of products click here. Our sales engineers are ready to accelerate your shift to electric actuators.
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