- Bearing testimony to ultimate product confidence
Global leader in bearings and engineering solutions, SKF, combines linear guidance systems and linear driving technology into one system, setting the industry benchmark in turnkey actuation system solutions.
SKF actuation system solutions are widely acknowledged for their superior quality and accurate and efficient performance across a broad range of market sectors, reliably meet applications requiring tasks to be performed automatically with a pre-programmed device with set parameters. “Our turnkey actuation system solutions position us extremely competitively in the market,” states SKF Mechatronics Product Manager for Southern Africa, John Storm.
“The actuation systems are offered through SKF Mechatronics,” says Storm, “which is one of SKF’s six global core technologies together with bearings and units, seals, power transmission, lubrication systems and services.” Mechatronics is briefly defined as anything mechanical that is electrically driven and SKF’s mechatronic product portfolio comprises two main product offerings - linear guidance systems, linear driving technology, and actuation systems.
“Actuation is our primary focus, and more specifically, electrically driven actuator systems with AC, DC and servo options,” continues Storm and elaborates, “The electric system delivers substantial end-user benefits compared to hydraulic and pneumatic systems.
In addition to being sealed and maintenance free, the system features quality, reliability, high efficiency rates, higher productivity, lower power consumption, high repeatable accuracy, system diversity and simple integration.”
Storm explains that choosing the most appropriate linear guidance system is dependent on a number of factors such as load capacity, stiffness, required speed, required travel and the attainable degree of precision. SKF offers three types of linear guidance systems to meet customers’ diverse guiding needs: Linear ball bearings (ball-recirculation sleeves on shafts), profile rail guides (carriage with rows of recirculating balls running on a profiled rail) and precision rail or prismatic guides (two guide rails positioned one upon the other with a ball, crossed roller or needle roller cage between them).
Linear driving technology involves rolled ball screws, ground ball screws, and roller screw systems. Ball and roller screw technology, which according to Storm, transforms rotary motion (provided by a motor) into linear motion, with very high efficiency. Rolled ball screws offer high precision to cover most requirements and reduce or eliminate backlash. Ground ball screws are the best solution for applications demanding greater rigidity and precision. Ball screws handle push and pull forces and run with linear guides which take up the lateral force.Roller screws can operate far beyond the limits of ball screws and ensureultimate precision and rigidity, high speed and acceleration a technology created by SKF.
“Our expansive linear range, available from 100N to 600kN, pushing forces out in precision at high speed, offers a tailored solution to meet any linear application demand whether to divert, position, lift, pick and place, raise and lower, load and unload, boxing, wrapping, etc.,” reveals Storm. The fact that SKF electric actuation systems are sealed eliminates contamination risk, making them ideally suited to the food and beverage industry.
They are also widely used on solar tracking applications as they can be designed for 20 year life cycles. Actuation electric systems are widely used in imaging systems, X-Ray machines, incubators (telescopic actuators), as well as surgical and gynaecological tables in the medical industry. Off high way applications include sensor bearings for steering units on forklifts.
In agriculture, systems for electronic parking brakes on tractors as well as bearings with encoders and integrated GPS tracking for positioning and adjusting feeders or sieves on combine harvesters offer advantages such as reduced operational costs and increased life span, speed, agility and production. Other market sectors that use electric actuation systems include the electronics industry, factory automation, printing and packaging, etc.
“Whether it is a new installation or after-market fitment, we assess and evaluate the customer’s unique requirements to offer the best, most reliable and efficient solution,” notes Storm.
With more than 100 years’ experience as a specialist in bearings and engineering solutions and rotation technology, SKF continues to set the benchmark in quality product and service solutions. Storm emphasises the fact that SKF linear products are manufactured from the same superior quality material and undergo the same manufacturing processes, including induction hardening, as SKF bearings. He also highlights that they are also subjected to the same calculations used on bearings to determine life expectancy. The SKF linear product range is one of quality and solid reliability that delivers rapid return on investment and low cost of ownership for our customers. “We use our own actuators in our assembly plant in Sweden; what better proof of our belief in the quality of our linear systems,” concludes Storm.