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Avoid Actuator Overkill, Control Costs

When engineers design motion control systems, they sometimes commit a costly error known as actuator overkill. As its name suggests, this error involves the selection of actuators whose precision, speed, lifecycle or other technical capabilities exceed the true application requirements.

Actuator overkill can occur in many types of applications, but you often see it in pick-and-place systems. To be sure, some pick-and-place devices need every incremental bit of accuracy, precision, speed or lifecycle that a high-end actuator can deliver. Many pick-and-place devices, however, do not need the very best actuators. In these cases, selecting a middle-of-the-road actuator will help you get the most out of your motion control dollars.

Our ActuatorLINE™ E-Light Series is a case in point. In the right applications, this belt-driven actuator can cost as much as 30-40% less than our top-of-the-line ELM Series.

So what are the right applications for these cost-saving actuators?

When Light Is Right. ActuatorLINE E-Light excels in applications that can be satisfied with a lower level of precision and accuracy compared with a high-end actuator model—such as those in our ELM Series. For example, an ActuatorLINE E-Light model will have a repeatability of 100 µm versus 50 µm for a comparable ELM actuator. In applications such as a packaging pick-and-place device, this precision tradeoff will typically make no practical difference whatsoever.

The “light” in ActuatorLINE E-Light refers to the weight of the aluminum structural elements, not the load bearing capacity. So our Light Series handles the same loads as comparable ELM models. There is, however, a potential reduction in lifecycle under some speed and environmental conditions. Again, in many applications, the lifecycle tradeoff will not rule out the use of the more economical E-Light actuator.

ActuatorLINE E-Light also features some integration advantages that make it especially attractive
in custom machines. It supports:

  • Gearbox installation on either side of the unit and either end of the actuator.
  • Custom machining of carriage top plates.
  • Connection kits to create X-Y-Z Cartesian robots.
  • Adjustable end-of-travel sensors.

When Light Isn’t Right. ActuatorLINE E-Light isn’t for every application. You would expect to step up to ELM models or even our T-Series ballscrew actuators in applications needing the maximum precision or lifecycle rating. They include most electronics assembly applications as well as some precision machining operations.

Finally, our ELM models are the clear favorite in applications that require stringent cleanliness or contamination resistance. ELM actuators have contaminant protection, food grade lubrication and stainless steel shafts, bearings and component parts options that the E-Light Series lacks.

Still not sure whether your application can be successful with our ActuatorLINE E-Light Series or whether you need to take it up a notch in performance? Contact one of our technical service engineers for help.