Linear Automation in the Forestry Industry
Linear actuators are becoming increasingly popular in the forestry industry. They are replacing bulkier hydraulic actuators and pneumatic systems. The main reasons for it are:
- A linear electric actuator has higher force capabilities.
- It guarantees the precision of movement.
- It is easy to maintain.
- It is durable.
- It is environmentally friendly.
In the forestry industry, linear actuator systems are applied for many reasons. They increase work efficiency and are irreplaceable in severe environments. Mechanisms based on electronic actuator systems are highly precise. They can manage tasks connected with high risks better than people do.
Electric actuators eliminate the need for oil or other liquids used in hydraulic actuators. It makes them environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. Electric actuators are more efficient than hydraulic ones.
Forestry automation is developing fast. Robotics in the forestry industry is used to work in environments dangerous for people. Those can be cold locations, dusty environments, and similar. Two main machines are used in the forestry industry:
- A harvester: it fells and debranches the trees.
- A forwarder: it transports the logs to the indicated location.
There are conventional and automated machines. They all use actuators. In the latest models, advanced software is used, such as path trackers, GPS, and others. Forestry automation allows boosting productivity level, reducing costs of operation, eliminate risks to people.
Linear Actuator Applications
Linear actuators are used in all the equipment in the forestry industry. You can find linear actuator electrical systems in:
- Debarking mechanisms.
- Log clamping systems.
- Veneer peeling equipment.
- All types of saws.
- Chippers and band mills.
All the linear actuators used for forestry applications are made from durable materials. They work at high speeds and provide top-precision positioning levels. Linear actuators are resistant to high loads and are more environmentally friendly than other actuator types.
Hydraulic vs Electric Actuators
Electric actuators are more efficient and safer than hydraulic actuators. That’s why they are preferred for forestry applications. Electric items don’t use oil or other flammable liquids. Hence, leaks during the maintenance procedures are impossible. The risks of environmental contamination are low or non-existent. These actuators are made from durable materials. That’s why equipment has a longer service life.
Linear actuators are easy to program. They provide top-level precision of movement. Moreover, this actuator type is very flexible. You can customize them to any of your needs.
Pneumatic vs Electric Actuators
Pneumatic actuators could be a good alternative to electric ones. They provide the required movement precision, they are speedy and powerful. The force and speed of a pneumatic actuator are easy to adjust. These features don’t depend on each other. Pneumatic actuators do not overheat and are humidity-resistant. These factors are beneficial for forestry industrial automation.
Pneumatic actuators could be a perfect option for industrial automation. But their maintenance costs are very high. Maintenance includes such things as:
- Cylinder replacement;
- Installation of air line;
- Maintenance of air line;
- Installation of an electricity source for compressor.
Maintenance costs are especially high when pneumatic actuators are used for a smaller scale.
Electric actuators are cost-efficient for small-scale applications. They are perfect for the forestry industry automation.
Linear actuators provide the highest level of movement and positioning precision. They are irreplaceable in helping machines to adapt to complex and flexible processes. The maintenance and replacement costs are minimal.
Electrical actuators can be overheated. They can be damaged by moisture if not sealed. These drawbacks shall be considered when manufacturing an electric actuator for application in the forestry.
If you are choosing between pneumatic and an electric actuator, consider the environment where they are going to be applied. If you believe that electric actuators are the best option, select the manufacturer carefully and purchase those actuators that comply with your requirements.
Automation and robotics are still not widely applied in the forestry industry. It is mainly because this field has been not attended enough yet. However, robotics is applied in the forestry sector increasingly.
Electric rotary actuators are used for designing robots that pick and place things or complete placing and retrieving operations on a single trip. The entire operating cycle becomes shorter.
Rotary actuators have been around for more than 50 years. However, earlier, they were powered by hydraulics or pneumatics. Now, electric rotary actuators are available. Hence, the technology is developing. If earlier, an electric piston actuator could be applied, nowadays, industries prefer using an electric cylinder actuator.
However, we believe, there is still no such thing as a superior actuator. Everything depends on the application environment, needs, costs, and many factors involved.