Electric Rod Actuators Vs Hydraulic Cylinders
Buying the right type of linear actuator that best suit your industrial application and mechanism can be a daunting job, especially when there has already been enough debate on the supremacy of linear technology using electric actuators over hydraulic actuators. Where the electric rod actuators are more flexible, precise functioning, and more reliable, Hydraulic actuators are rugged, simple on deployment, and provide a low cost per unit of force.
To resolve this on-going debate, we first have to consider the various aspects of these actuators such as, the performance, cost, motion control capabilities, temperature resistance, environmental concerns, and specifically, which one offers the best approach towards the range of motion-controlling applications.
1) Motion Control Capabilities
One of the many reasons why industries prefer electric actuators over hydraulic rod actuators can be the flexibility of its motion control capabilities in regard to its position, velocity, acceleration, and complex handling of all types of motion variables. The electric actuators when coupled with a servo drive and motor, derives infinite control over the mechanical position, accuracy, and repeatability levels.
On the other hand, hydraulic actuators are more complex at functioning, requires a control valve, and an operator for assistance. Moreover, the mechanical position and repeatability levels in hydraulic actuators are subjected to leakages, worn seals, and pressure drops, which again make it least preferable for complex yet sensitive industrial applications.
2) System Gears and Footprints
The electric rod actuators are more compatible and have a smaller footprint than hydraulic cylinders. Where the hydraulic actuators require a cylinder, a power unit for oil supply, control and accessory valves, filters, hoses, and other additional components for functioning, electric actuators simply needs a mechanical actuator, servo motor or a gearbox, and an amplifier which is usually mounted on a control cabinet screw.
The size of the gearbox required for an electric actuator is a fraction of what used in Hydraulic Actuators. For application manufacturing, if the additional space is accommodated by the electric actuator at work point, the overall footprint of the entire machine will decrease thus, eliminating the need for extra power units.
3) Energy Savings Potential:
Considering a typical application with 30 cycles per minute, the initial setup and start-up cost of the electric actuator will be much higher due to the expensive components involved in its construction, but trials have shown that over a two-year period the total savings can be considerable. This is basically due to the fact that the electric actuators only consume power when in motion; moreover, the long life of the components in an electric actuator means the maintenance cost is also lower. Typically, the savings start flowing in after 9 to 12 months of usage and become substantially more by the time you reach 24 months.
4) Temperature Resistance
Heat management is the most crucial factor to consider while choosing the right type of actuator. Unfortunately, this is a major drawback for Hydraulic cylinders due to its poor heat resistance. If the temperature exceeds the threshold point of 82°C, it can damage the seal and hasten up the oil degradation.
Electric actuators might overheat at times, but this happens only in extreme cases where the actuator is running on a harder duty cycle than it was designed for. Its higher efficiency range and sizing accuracy have made the electric rod actuators as most –preferable for the engineering mechanisms. Moreover, in case of extreme temperatures grease can be applied to avoid any performance difference.
5) Environmental Concerns
Hydraulic actuators are more prone to leakage and hazardous incidents in the workplace. In extreme cases, a major leakage inside the machine can contaminate the whole product which could be disastrous in food production industries. Contamination can be costly both in terms of scrapped products and clean-up.
Electric actuator technology is a clean and easily deployable linear technology. Grease applied over the lead screw is the only contamination risk which is usually acceptable. The high-quality seal compounds applied on the electric actuators act as a barrier between the grease and inside of the actuator thus, eliminating the product contamination risk.
Phoenix Mecano is the leading electric cylinder manufacturer in India. We, with our state of the art solutions and products, help the industries develop their customized products with risk management and quality kept on crucial priority.