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9 Reasons to Switch from Pneumatic to Electromechanical Actuators

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Actuators are often an essential part of hydraulic systems. They convert energy into motion so that various parts and components can move. The movement can include a wide range of functions, such as raising, clamping, lowering, or lifting.

Actuators also control the function of hydraulic motors, valves, switches, and pumps. As such, two types of hydraulic actuators you could use in your hydraulic system are pneumatic and electromechanical actuators.

What Are Pneumatic Actuators?

Pneumatic actuators use compressed gas or air to perform the desired function. One of the benefits of using compressed gas or air is that the actuator can perform high-speed functions. In addition, pneumatic actuators are economical and have a simple design.

However, the drawback to this type of actuator is that it does have limitations on the compression pressures it can generate, which can limit power output. In addition, you have to take temperature variances into consideration.

Gas and air pressures are affected when temperatures become too hot or too cold. As a result, this will affect how the system performs when operated in these types of environments. 

What Are Electromechanical Actuators?

Electromechanical actuators use alternating electrical currents to power an electric motor. The motor then creates torque to power the actuator. As a result, the actuator uses a direct drive for fast response times.

In the past electromechanical actuators were limited to light-duty operations. However, that is changing, thanks to advances in technology. So, there are now electric actuators that can be used in place of pneumatic actuators.

9 Reasons to Switch to Electric Actuators

#1. Can Be Used in a Variety of Environments

Pneumatic systems are limited to a set temperature range as compressing air becomes more difficult when temperatures get too hot or too cold. Electric actuators can be operated in just about any type of environment and have a much broader temperature range.

They can also be used for a broader range of industrial applications, such as the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. This is because they do not contain air, gas, or any type of fluid that could leak out of the pneumatic actuator.

#2. Increased Reliability and Durability

If you compare the reliability and durability of pneumatic and electric actuators, you will discover electromechanical actuators come out ahead. With pneumatic actuators, there are several system components that could fail, including valves, seals, compressors, regulators, tubing, and filters.

When one of these components starts having issues, they can affect the entire pneumatic system. In addition, pneumatic systems are more prone to potential contamination.

With electric actuator systems, there are fewer components that could have problems. For example, some of the more common components that fail are the bearings. Knowing this is a common point of failure also makes it easier to maintain electromechanical systems.

#3. Lower Maintenance Costs

Another benefit of switching from pneumatic to electromechanical actuators is it will lower your overall maintenance costs. Most electronic systems consist of the actuator with a built-in motor, some cables, and a control device.

On the other hand, pneumatic systems have numerous parts and components that all need to be replaced at some point. In addition, several components also require regular maintenance like the compressor, air hoses, and valves. 

As you can see, with fewer parts and components, regular maintenance of electromechanical systems will require less time, resulting in lower maintenance costs.

#4. Precision Control

When you use pneumatic actuators, you have to account for various tolerances, slack, and backlash when designing the system. With electric actuators, you do not have to worry about these factors as they provide precision control.

#5. Reduced Energy Consumption

You might mistakenly assume that electromechanical actuators would use more energy than pneumatic actuators. However, that is not an accurate assumption. Pneumatic systems are constantly using energy when they are on, even when they are in stand-by mode. 

With electromechanical systems, there is no power being sent to the electric actuators when the system is in stand-by mode. Therefore, the system uses less energy, which lowers your energy costs. 

#6. Longer Lifespan

An electromechanical system tends to have a longer lifespan than a pneumatic air system. This is because of the number of critical parts and components used in a pneumatic system. These parts and components will wear out much faster than the electric actuator.

#7. More Compact Design

Since electromechanical actuators have fewer parts and components, they are better suited for hydraulic systems that have a compact design. Therefore, they are perfect for mobile hydraulic systems and other compact devices that require hydraulics.

#8. Can Generate More Power

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Compressed air or gas does have its limitations when it comes to generating force using air pressure. Most pneumatic systems top out at around 6,000 pounds of force. An electromechanical system can utilise different ball screw and roller screw technologies to increase the amount of force it can generate, where they can generate as much as 40,000 pounds of force.

#9. Lower Overall Operating Costs

The initial costs of an electromechanical system upfront are more expensive than the upfront costs of a pneumatic system. However, if you take into account the reliability, durability, lower maintenance costs, reduced energy usage, and longer lifespan of electromechanical systems, the overall operating costs are much lower.

What Actuator Is Best?

Deciding what actuator is best for your hydraulic system depends on several factors, including:

  • The environment where the system will be used
  • The function of the system
  • The amount of system pressure you need
  • The precision you require
  • The speed at which you need the system to operate
  • The different types of system operations that need to be performed
  • The amount of force you require

By understanding these factors, you will be able to select the best actuator to fit your specific needs.

Get Help from the Hydraulic System Experts

If you are unsure whether you should switch from pneumatic to electromechanical actuators or need help with system design and selecting the best actuators, White House Products, Ltd. is here to help. We are the leading supplier of hydraulic parts, actuators, pumps, motors, and more.

We are also knowledgeable and have in-house excerpts that can assist you with hydraulic system designs and customisations. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, repair needs, parts replacements, or anything else hydraulic-related by calling +44 (0) 1475 742500 today.

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