Guest contributor; Dr. Steffen Haack, Bosch Rexroth AG
When it comes to progress in linear motion technology, one thing is immediately clear: linear guides and systems move increasingly larger loads more regularly and with increasingly higher positioning accuracy and repeatability. Anyone with an understanding of the interplay between the drive technologies will know the potential resulting from it.
Through a combination of electrics, sensors and software, linear motion technology makes a crucial contribution for integrated factory. Here are the five trends that support intelligent linear motion technology in practice:
Figure 1: Modularization and flexibility
Ready-to-install electromechanical cylinders combine mechanics with the flexibility of electric drives. A software command to the electric drive and the cylinder move them to any position and carry out complicated movement profiles. Without an additional position measuring system, they can achieve repeatability of up to ± 0.01 mm. Load measuring pins transmit the values analogously to the electric drive or the control and enable a decentralized process management.
Figure 2: Functional integration reduces complexity
If the precision requirements are high but the environment conditions are rough, conventional measuring systems soon reach their limits. Absolute measuring systems integrated into ball rail and roller rail systems detect the absolute position of the axis with a resolution of 0.025 μm. They immediately recognize the absolute position of the axis when the machine is switched on and report it to the controller without carrying out a reference run. In addition, modern systems do not require buffer batteries that need to be replaced regularly.
Figure 3: Predictive maintenance increases availability
Sensors measure temperature peaks and vibrations. This data forms the basis for future approaches to predictive maintenance. However, it is only significant if it is compared with life cycle models. In load tests, the newly developed runner blocks have demonstrated twice the service life through increased load capacities with the same size. Together with the detected operating conditions and predictive maintenance, they significantly increase the availability of machines and systems.
Figure 4: Digitally supported commissioning
Previously, an experienced technician could easily have spent twenty minutes commissioning a linear axis. With the new mechatronic linear axes and actuators, the commissioning takes only three to five minutes. A digital assistant supports the application engineer with this. The technician only has to enter a few pieces of axis-specific data and can then immediately program or parameterize the drive. In the future, this functionality will automatically be available via the QR code.
Figure 5: Digital engineering for secure and quick dimensioning
More and more engineering departments are changing to integrated digital workflows. With selection guides or sizing tools, design engineers find the correct linear motion technology components and mechatronic systems through intuitive user guidance, which can even be application-specifically configured. The electronically generated data are then integrated directly into the digital construction model and enables the virtual simulation of complex machine movements, for example.
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