Industry professionals commonly categorize actuators as either fluid power (i.e., hydraulic or pneumatic) or electromechanical (i.e., electric motor driven) actuators. While hydraulic actuators have long served as the standard choice, electromechanical solutions are increasingly taking their place in a wide range of industries. Some of the sectors in which the transition from hydraulic to electromechanical is most evident include:
- Factory automation
- Mobile off-highway and automated guided vehicles
Read on to learn how switching from a hydraulic to electromechanical actuator solution may benefit you and your company.
Overview of Hydraulic and Electromechanical Actuators
Before delving into how hydraulic and electromechanical actuators stand up to each other, it’s important to establish a basic understanding of their unique operating and performance characteristics. Below we provide an overview of how hydraulic actuators and electromechanical actuators operate and perform.
Compared to similarly-sized pneumatic actuators, hydraulic actuators offer up to and exceeding 25 times the amount of actuating force and a horsepower-to-weight ratio up to 1–2 hp/lb. greater. Both qualities that make them well-suited for use in high-force applications. Additionally, they are designed and built to hold force and torque constant, even when the incompressibility of fluids presents a challenge.
While hydraulic actuators offer certain advantages, their primary limiting factor is cost and control capabilities. As they are often expensive and difficult to control, electromechanical solutions—which are relatively low cost and easy to control—are rising in popularity.
As indicated above, electromechanical actuators offer a much higher degree of control than hydraulic solutions, enabling them to be used in more complex applications that require complete control over movement and motion. This quality stems largely from their ability to programmed, which allows engineers to modify force and motion profiles without having to reconfigure and restarting the system manually. In addition to increasing their controllability, it also facilitates changing operations from one product to another, which, depending on the size of the operation, can result in significant time savings.
Benefits of Making the Switch to Electromechanical Actuators
By making the switch from hydraulic actuators to electromechanical actuators, industry professionals benefit in many ways. In addition to having greater control over force and motion, they experience the following advantages:
- Smaller footprint. Compared to hydraulic systems, electromechanical systems are much more compact and require less space within a facility.
- Fewer maintenance requirements. Overall, electromechanical systems need less maintenance than hydraulic systems, saving both on time and labor costs.
- Higher MTBF. As electromechanical actuating systems have fewer components and no high-pressure vulnerabilities, they are less likely to break down, resulting in a much greater mean time between failure (MTBF).
- Quieter operation. Electromechanical actuators produce less noise than their hydraulic counterparts, which may be a critical design element for certain applications.
- Lower risk of environmental damage. As electromechanical actuators do not use fluids for their actuating mechanism, there is no risk of fluid leaks. Additionally, since they only use power when actively moving, they are much more energy-efficient.
Contact the Electromechanical Actuator Experts at SEPAC Today
At SEPAC, we specialize in supplying high-performance brakes and clutches for applications that require custom actuation solutions. Our years of industry experience give us the knowledge and skills to design and deliver electromechanical solutions suitable for even the most demanding uses.