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Modular Linear Actuators

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Applying Modular Linear Actuators in Automated Electromechanical Systems for Manufacturing.

Learn the primary considerations for electrical and mechanical engineers when designing automated assembly lines that require linear axes for positioning

Modular Linear Actuators with complex multi-axis systems are indispensable in today’s industrial world. They play an increasingly significant role in automated machine design and construction for manufacturing. Some of the many applications for this technology include machine tool, packaging, picking, robotics, automotive and robotics.

To ensure machine designers can continue to meet the complex challenges of their end customers, it is important they use products of the highest quality while collaborating with an experienced linear motion design team that specializes in projects involving customized linear axis systems. This will ultimately ensure an optimal cost Vs. performance.

Customized linear actuator systems with the highest level of continuity, reliability, and minimal maintenance are increasingly required in order to complete specific automation tasks relating to Industry 4.0. This in turn, provides automated manufacturing lines with increased productivity and reduced down times.

Highly functional integration is one of the main characteristics of fully automated manufacturing lines. The key is to combine as many work steps as possible in a small space while making the work cycle as fast as possible. When custom manufacturing products in a batch size of 1, adaptability and flexibility are also important for the manufacturing technology of tomorrow.

On one hand, linear actuator drive systems make a valuable contribution in the positioning, handling, and transporting components quickly and reliably. On the other hand, servomotor-driven linear actuator systems can be used to repeatedly readjust the workspace as the product requirements continue to evolve.

Key Factors

 The ideal modular linear actuator system provides machine builders with customized drive technology that fits seamlessly into their ever-changing designs. Using a linear actuator system with built-in axes modularity makes it much easier to modify or convert machines later as requirements change later down the road.

Key requirements for these systems include:

 High speed (fast acceleration)

  • Trouble-free operation for high throughput
  • Maximum precision
  • Low noise
  • Lightweight/Compact design
  • High load capacity

 

Faster Cycle Times

Portal systems are very common for material handling in assembly technology. Due to short cycle times, there are challenging demands in terms of speed, precision, and dynamism.

The servo-driven units are integrated into high-performance automation systems for multi-axis-coordinated motion control.

System designers should optimize the linear axes based on each individual application. For example, they can be specially optimized as a Z axis or customized as X and Y axes. The high vertical integration and the on-site service make it possible to build linear axes for manufacturing lines to make optimal use of the available space, while also saving energy and material.

Ultimately, linear actuator system designers must collaborate closely the end machine builders to optimize the performance of these systems.

Increased Flexibility for Robotics

Industrial robots must reliably execute highly dynamic and automated motion sequences at a consistently high level of accuracy and speed. Especially now in the digital age of Industry 4.0, the requirements placed on customized and flexible robotic systems with ever-expandable work areas are a high priority.

In addition to footprint flexibility, synchronization and the perfect transition from one work step to the next are other key requirements. Multi-axis Linear actuators provide robotics with the increased freedom of movement by removing the limitations of a fixed operating position (allowing them to move in multiple directions). This significantly increases the overall productivity of a robotic system.

On automated production lines, significant time savings are achievable with movable, rotatory multi-axis kinematics (where the robots can follow the production sequence spatially). This is the seventh axis of robotics – and it takes facilitates the horizontal movement of the robot precisely to the line rhythm. The advantage: Increased productivity in the workflow because more assembly and handling time is now available.

Robots on Rails

Increasing the robotic range of movement provides more time for other tasks within a given work cycle. If the robot moves from its usual place, then the work areas can also be designed with more flexibility to allow the integration of other tasks.

Robots on the seventh axis: Toothed belt linear axes have the robustness and positioning precision necessary for this application. A good linear actuator system will offer a broad solution space, allowing the linear axes to be precisely adjusted to the robot and the production environment. This includes dynamism, precision, load capacity, drive stiffness and, above all, reliable operation.

Packaging Technology

There is surely no other part of automated production line that is so centered around cycle times as the packaging process. Furthermore, plants are required to be extremely flexible so many different types of cardboard boxes and formats can be processed on one machine.

The question of conversion times is best answered with a fully automated format adjustment. The degree of automation in packaging technology is correspondingly high, and it continues to increase as the trend for customized packaging evolves.

Spindle or toothed belt linear axes that are individually customized for the application play a key part in ensuring the workflows in packaging machines are completed with precision, speed, and with a high level of dynamism.

Automotive Manufacturing

Linear drive systems are versatile for all round use in automated automotive production lines. Both belt and spindle axes are used in nearly all areas of this industry. Typical applications include the body, paint, tire testing, and all robot-based tasks. The linear drive systems must be fast and robust in daily operations, and be easily adaptable in model switches, vehicle variants, and general series servicing.

The growing e-mobility market is also playing an important part in a constantly changing automotive manufacturing industry. In this context, the flexibility of linear systems is extending beyond their individual function (one-time setup). It is important to ensure they are configurable by allowing the axes to be easily converted to align with future system evolution.