Equipment & Technology

Pushing forward with LINAK’s actuators

Electric linear actuators are becoming more and more common on industrial equipment, including for grain handling applications. ABHR speaks to Andrew Cooper from LINAK Australia to find out why.

Electric linear actuator specialist, LINAK, has developed new products and solutions for industrial operations.

Electric actuators commonly provide the force and movement required for many bulk handling applications, especially in the grain handling industry.

An electric linear actuator essentially consists of a housing with a DC motor, gearing and a spindle inside with a moving piston rod, to simply provide the force to move heavy loads effectively, efficiently and reliably.

Andrew Cooper, Australia Industry Business Unit Manager for LINAK Australia says they are typically designed to last for thousands of cycles which results in many years of maintenance free operation for most applications, but a few applications require a very high number of cycles and for these applications one of the lifetime limiting factors can be found in the motor itself.

“The brushes in a brushed DC motor wear. For most applications this is not an issue, and an actuator lifetime of many years is common.  But for applications with a very high number of cycles this can be limiting, which is why we have designed an actuator with a brushless DC motor, typically increasing its lifespan by a factor of 20.”

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LINAK specialises in the design and manufacture of electric linear actuators. It works closely with its customers to develop new products that will help solve their problems.

One trend Cooper says is becoming increasingly popular is the integration of electric actuators into the fieldbus communications network of automation systems.

“LINAK actuators can be easily integrated into a site’s automation system’s communication network enabling simple control and monitoring of the actuator and providing access to a wealth of valuable data points that can provide actionable insight for operators,” he says.

“The more insight plant operators have on the operating status and condition of equipment installed on their plant, the better. Access to this data allows plants to roll out things like predictive and pre-emptive maintenance and to keep the plant operating as efficiently as possible.”

To accommodate this, LINAK’s actuators can be integrated into automation systems using many different protocols including CANopen and I-O Link. This allows the devices to seamlessly work alongside other machinery in the plant.

Cooper says as soon as the actuator is connected to an automation system’s network, the information gathered becomes much more sophisticated.

In many cases, all that is required of the actuator is to extend or retract. However, more complex applications may change the speed of the actuator or gather information on operating data such as current, temperature and the number of strokes.

LINAK’s TECHLINE range of actuators have been designed for industrial equipment, which is why their robust design includes a heavy-duty aluminium housing and a high IP66 rating, even when operating. Each actuator goes through an extensive testing programme including salt spray, chemical resistance, climatic and vibration tests to ensure they can handle the intense environments.

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