Since its industry introduction in the 1960s, automation has made an accelerated climb to be a significant trend in material handling applications. Now, automated material handling systems handle a wide range of repetitive and precision tasks in manufacturing and supply chains, along with the eCommerce, logistics, and retail industries.
These systems offer a range of benefits, including increased productivity, cost control, worker safety, reduced product damage, and more. And as companies expand, they can invest in additional machinery to keep up with demand without worrying about labor shortages.
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Key trends in automated material handling
Among the significant equipment trends in material handling are the following:
Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS): This refers to a variety of technologies that can handle, store, and retrieve material with precision, accuracy, and speed. These systems are used in applications ranging from assembly and production (retrieving and delivering parts for assembly) to retail (bringing parts to the point of sale).
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs): These computer-controlled and wheel-based machines travel along the floor of a facility without a human driver. They handle a variety of applications, including material transport, pulling trailers or forklift work. These are typically battery powered and controlled through a combination of programmed software, vision systems, and sensor monitoring.
Material handling robots: Robots are used in a wide range of applications and come in a variety of designs. Reach distance, payload capacity and the number of axes of travel is defining characteristics of different models. Robots use what’s known as the end of arm tooling (EOAT) to hold and manipulate either a tool or a piece of material.
EOAT: EOAT is itself a major area of a current technological focus, as end-users demand even greater productivity and flexibility from their robotic systems. According to an article in Control Engineering, three of the most consequential current trends include the development of safer grippers that prevent harm to human workers, EOAT connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), and the development of soft grippers that promise to expand the use of robotics in food handling applications.
Improved battery technology: Whereas lead-acid batteries have traditionally been used in material handling automation solutions, newer technologies, such as lithium-ion, are making inroads. Compared to the older technology, lithium-ion offers faster charging times, less maintenance, stable voltage with higher travel and lifting speeds. The higher cost of lithium-ion is currently a barrier to adoption for many potential users. But it seems reasonable to expect those costs to come down as the technology is adopted widely for other uses, such as electric passenger vehicles.
New automation technologies promise additional capabilities
Fact is, automated and robotic systems are getting even more and more powerful, enhanced by additional technologies such as the IoT and machine learning. In this “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” handling systems will handle not only the labor, but decision making, troubleshooting and process improvements, all without human involvement.
This is not to say that there will no longer be roles for humans in these industries. On the contrary, the worker of tomorrow will need new skill sets as he or she walks in (or logs in) to the factory or warehouse. Increasingly, these workplaces are looking for people such as technicians, software and mechanical engineers and skilled operators who can oversee this new and rapidly evolving automated machinery.
Industrial material handling is being transformed by automated machinery. Tasks — sometimes dangerous or difficult tasks — once handled by humans, are now the province of mobile or stationary machinery running off programming. Increasingly, this machinery is using sensors and other technologies to work with even greater precision and autonomy.
To learn more about trends in the Material Handling industry, read our Off-Road Trends White Paper.
This article was contributed by Parker's Electromechanical and Drives Team.
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5 Feb 2021
Traditionally dependent on fossil fuels to run key equipment, mining is known as a carbon-intensive industry. New trends, such as battery-powered underground mining equipment, are promising to disrupt that paradigm.
Increasingly, stakeholders are demanding that mining companies be more responsible and sustainable. Companies are being pressured by stockholders, workers, local communities, consumers and governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce carbon footprints, improve air quality and protect the health and safety of workers and people living near mines. Meanwhile, others in the mining value chain — such as jewelers, electronics companies, or automakers — want assurances that the minerals they’re buying are mined responsibly.
With this as a backdrop, battery-powered underground mining equipment is starting to replace vehicles with diesel engines and equipment with electric motors is starting to replace those using hydraulics.
As stated in a 2020 article in Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration:
Though the transition to electric mining equipment has been relatively slow, it is difficult to think of the mining industry of the future still depending on fossil fuels. The shift to cleaner sources of energy is global: industries and governments across the world are implementing renewable energy source strategies and policies, regulations are becoming stricter and social scrutiny harder. Electromobility has arrived to stay and the mining industry is not excluded from its influence.
—Felipe Sánchez and Philipp Hartlieb
Download our white paper Off-Road Trends: Driving Cleaner, More Efficient and Connected Machinery, and learn what influences the advances in mobile heavy machinery.Deeper reasons why companies are switching to electric mining equipment
There are other reasons why the switch to electric mining equipment makes sense for many mining operations.
One, for instance, is the competitiveness of the industry and the increasing need for miners and equipment to go ever deeper into the earth to extract more minerals. It follows that the deeper a mine, the more ventilation infrastructure is needed to help vent diesel emissions and keep workers safe. According to one estimate, up to 30% of an underground mine’s total operating costs go toward powering ventilation systems to maintain air quality.
At some point, it becomes much less cost-effective for such operations to continue using diesel ICE — even equipment that is designed to comply with current Environmental Protection Agency emission standards — in these applications.
Surface mining operations aren’t totally immune from these pressures either. Diesel-powered machines used in these operations must adhere to the same environmental regulation as construction and agricultural equipment.
Electric mining vehicle options
Many mining OEMs are taking advantage of the opportunities created by this trend. Atlas Copco® and Epiroc, for instance, offers a range of BEV, zero-emission mining machines, including the Scooptram® ST7, the Electric Boomer M2C and smaller truck models.
Sandvik® Artisan®, meanwhile, offers its Z50 mining truck, powered by lithium-ion batteries. It boasts three times more power than a diesel, and the capability to haul 50 tons of material. It also features regenerative braking and an automated battery swap system that can “refuel” the vehicle in about 10 minutes.
Challenges in the adoption of electrification
There are many challenges to the widespread shift to electrification in mining. According to a 2019 report by EY on the subject, electrification requires mining personnel to adopt some different skills, such as data and digital literacy and technical planning. In some cases, mine design needs to be rethought for better optimization of electric mining equipment.
On the engineering side, battery technology and recharging are ongoing challenges. The current industry standard is the use of large, diesel-powered generators to do the job. But as these generators are highly polluting, their use tends to defeat at least some of the purpose of the shift to electric mining vehicles. Several solutions are emerging to reduce or eliminate this reliance on diesel, including renewable energy projects at mines, hydrogen power generators for recharging and diesel generators that run more efficiently.
A cleaner, greener, safer future of mining
Mining is traditionally a very carbon-dependent industry, with heavy reliance on diesel ICE to power its equipment. That reliance may be starting to change, however, driven by pressure from stakeholders to reduce carbon footprints and protect workers and communities, along with new economic pressures derived from the need to mine farther underground. Already, major OEMs are providing electric mining equipment. As new options for charging these large batteries — including renewable resources — become more widespread, expect to see a cleaner, greener, safer future of mining.
To learn more about trends in the Mining industry, read our Off-Road Trends: Driving Cleaner, More Efficient and Connected Machinery.
This article was contributed by Parker's Electromechanical Team.
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5 Feb 2021
Looking for efficiency and reliability as well as peak power for on-highway and off-highway vehicles, both electric and hybrid? Comparison analysis and 135 million road miles logged has shown that the Parker GVM310 is a powerful choice for both types of vehicles, engineered for traction and electro-hydraulic pumps (EHP) up to 409 kW peak power. Check out the infographic for more of the results.
High power Permanent Magnet AC motors (PMAC) offer the best solution to meet the requirements of vehicle duty performance. With a ten year legacy and thousands of units sold, the high power density and speed capabilities of Parker GVM motors combined with a voltage matched inverter provide the speed and torque required to achieve breakthrough performance in a variety of vehicle platforms.
In addition to operating as a high-power motor, the GVM310 is a very high-efficiency generator enabling energy savings of up to 30% compared to induction technologies. The GVM family achieves high power density thanks to a patented liquid cooling system, which also results in a cleaner, less complex, oil-free design. Moreover, to ensure reliability and long life under tough conditions, the GVM motors have been put through a battery of validation tests.Look at the numbers
Up to 2% more efficient than competitive motors. Efficiency is the motor's capability to produce useful mechanical power efficiently. A more efficient motor reduces the cost to operate, runs cooler, and is better for the environment. Parker's higher efficiency GVM means a cost reduction of the vehicle battery in a longer range between charges.
From 40% to 100% more peak power than competitive motors. Power density refers to the amount of power produced relative to the physical size of the motor. The high power density of the GVM saves on installation costs when compared to oil-cooled motors. Enhanced power density with up to a 200% smaller footprint.
Durability and reliability are characteristics of the GVM that make it suitable for rough environments. Test standards meet SAE J1455 for dust, sand, gravel bombardment, humidity, salt spray, and immersion, operating temps from -40° to 120°C, crash shock, and vibration.
Engineered for traction and electro-hydraulic pumps (EHP)
The GVM motor line has been designed to be used in a wide variety of construction vehicle applications. A variety of available magnetic options allow for a wide range of voltage, speed, and torque requirements. The GVM family achieves high power density thanks to a patented liquid cooling system, which also results in a cleaner, less complex, oil-free design. The GVM310 is an example of how Parker is providing the building blocks for vehicle electrification, developing turnkey technologies that cut time to market while reducing supply chain complexity.
And other off-highway vehicles autonomous vehicle, and E-Mobility markets
The GVM (Global Vehicle Motor) is Parker’s electric motor for electric vehicles, hybrid electric powertrain motors as well as for electro-hydraulic actuation applications. When it comes to electrification, Parker’s innovative family of electric motors are compact, lightweight and efficient and can be used in a wide variety of vehicle applications including; construction equipment, refuse trucks, city buses, street sweepers, motorcycles and scooters, light commercial vehicles and watercraft.
The value of the GVM is realized by the OEM in terms of reduced battery cost, less labor in the motor integration process, and benefits in cooling infrastructure requirements. Further benefits to the end user include less money spent on recharging energy and overall lower fleet and vehicle operating costs. And benefits to the environment include a reduced amount of CO2 released by each vehicle. To see how a Parker GVM motor can provide tangible value to your application, please try our value calculator app.
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26 Jan 2021
Sewing may not be widely regarded as glamorous, but it is literally what holds the very fabric of society together. All of the clothing we wear can be found to contain neat stitching, but have you ever wondered how bulkier items like mattresses, cushions or upholstery are sewn together? The highly-sophisticated machines that make the intricate designs and quilted patterns on the surfaces of these items are very different from the simple sewing machines of yesteryear.
Although the textile industry still largely requires skilled human hands to guide and sew material, automation is steadily increasing. Now, automated stitching, quilting and embellishing for larger textiles is showcasing the possibilities for automation technology to the rest of the textile sector as a whole. Automation has a lot to offer the industry, including fast, high-volume production, excellent versatility and superior repeatability.A long-standing partnership
Nestled beneath the mountains in the town of Arth, near Lucerne, Switzerland, the factory of ASCO Bettwaren AG is highly regarded for its CNC-controlled quilting machines and services the company provides to high-end decorators and manufacturers of furniture, mattress covers and bedding. Seeing themselves as creative craftsmen eager to take on projects that others think are impossible, the ASCO team has developed increasingly sophisticated hardware, software, intuitive programming and graphical user interfaces to retain their competitive edge.
This innovation is thanks in part to the close partnership Parker developed with ASCO over the past 30 years. Parker has helped the textile specialists to develop increasingly sophisticated product offerings and designs for a wide variety of quilts, bedspreads, curtains, mattress covers, upholstery, decorative pillows and synthetic blankets.
“Our mutually beneficial partnership with Parker now extends to over 30 years, and the SNA quilting machines we currently use, including frame and QLA cross-cut machines, have proven to be solid, long-lasting and highly reliable,”
Daniel Staub, Managing Director at ASCO
The technology behind the designs
ASCO relies on Parker’s Automated Sewing Systems (SNA) for a variety of different operations, including cutting, stitching and quilting. The SNA machines offer a multitude of single-needle quilting options in a modular concept, meaning the customer can first select the best configuration for their requirements and later add to the system as needed.
The machines cut the materials to the exact size required and feed them into the sewing area, often layering together multiple layers of fabric and padding, ready to be stitched. The edges of the material are securely clamped and the needle moves continuously across the material via a moving bridge, making the desired geometric quilting patterns or bespoke designs on the textiles. All this is done by a single operator at the graphical user interface.
Behind all this technology are a number of modules and systems from Parker, including Compax3 digital servo controllers combined with SMH low inertia servo motors, HLE linear actuators, Moduflex valve islands and the P31 global air preparation system. These essential pieces of advanced motion control technology help to control the smooth movement of material by providing pneumatic clamping on the in-feed system, automatic sensing, straightening and tensioning as well as automatic cutting and unloading operations.
The latest addition to the range of SNA machines at ASCO is the SNA 4200 – a frameless, continuous sewing system with moving bridge, allowing ASCO to fully automate their quilting projects from reel to pallet. The only need for hands-on operation is ensuring the multiple material reels are ready for feeding into the machine. This makes it possible for one operator to run several machines at once, further reducing operation costs.
With a speed of up to 4,500 stitches per minute, the SNA can generate transport speeds of 23m/min during sewing (55m/min without sewing). The Windows-based software allows users to easily create or modify quilt patterns, even on the most challenging contour designs, meaning that innovative new designs can become the norm instead of the exception.
Article contributed by Philipp Jäger, systems sales manager, Electromechanical and Drives Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation
5 Jan 2021
Electrification remains one of the primary trends in the automotive sector, as vehicle makers push hard to introduce cleaner technologies which result in lower emissions.
According to a recent report from global professional services company PwC, over 55% of all new car sales could be fully electrified by 2030. Cars of the future will be electrified, autonomous, shared, connected and yearly updated, it says, in what represents a new era of flexible mobility.
This trend towards electrification isn’t restricted to the passenger car market. Construction and mining vehicles, city buses and refuse trucks have all been developed with hybrid electric powertrains, as authorities look to reduce pollution by introducing more stringent environmental regulations.
But technological progression doesn’t come overnight. The shift to electrification needs to be viewed as an evolution rather than a revolution, delivered through the continued refinement of a broad range of on-board systems and components. These incremental achievements allow the industry to manufacture greener vehicles without having to compromise in areas such as performance and reliability.A high-power density motor for traction applications
Here at Parker, our global teams of scientists and engineers are supporting these environmental efforts, designing and developing new systems that accelerate the pace of electrification. For instance, we recently extended our Global Vehicle Motor family of high-power density, permanent magnet AC motors with the GVM310, which comes with a 310mm square frame. This new product provides a traction solution for a broad range of on-road and off-road commercial electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
So, let’s look at some of the benefits that GVM310 brings to the market. Primarily, when used in conjunction with Parker’s hydraulic pumps, the GVM family helps customers realise electro-hydraulic pump solutions that allow the electrification of formerly purely hydraulic applications.Higher performance motors for your electric or hybrid vehicles
The high efficiency / lower energy consumption of the motor helps vehicle makers comply with stringent emerging energy legislation. It reduces CO2 footprints, is extremely quiet, and its high reliability results in reduced maintenance and downtime for operators. Options with peak power values ranging from 147 kW to 409 kW are available – with high power density meaning the size and weight of overall solutions can be minimised easing design-in for customers.
In addition to operating as a high-power motor, the GVM310 can also be run as a generator enabling effective battery management, longer duty cycles and energy savings of up to 30% compared to induction technologies. Availability as low-flux versions for high-speed applications, or high-flux derivatives for high torque applications enhances versatility.
Furthermore, the GVM family incorporates a wide range of technical features that improve performance. These include a new thinner lamination design to reduce losses, a patented cooling system and a clean, oil-free design.
The introduction of the GVM310 is an example of how Parker is providing the building blocks for electrification, developing turnkey technologies that cut time to market while reducing supply chain complexity. It offers the industry with an optimized solution for the on-road and off-road commercial electric and hybrid electric vehicles of tomorrow.
Article contributed by Bruno Jouffrey, market development manager - Mobile, Electromechanical and Drives Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
23 Nov 2020
Many industries are now being required to drastically reduce carbon emissions as a consequence of rising global temperatures, and the automotive industry in particular is a focus of much regulatory pressure.
Parker helps guarantee performance for vehicle electrification
Fundamental to the need for original equipment manufacturers to meet the rigorous safety requirements of an entirely new generation of electric vehicles is the ability to implement repeatable quality testing using the most advanced technology in test rigs.
The Electric Vehicle (EV) market now needs specially-adapted high-speed motors for test benches that will offer sufficient speed, power and acceleration to meet the tough qualification process for electric engines, pumps and powertrain transmissions. Over the past few years, Parker has received numerous requests for test rig motor speeds above 22,000 rpm, with torque levels above 400 Nm and high dynamic performance. This has led Parker to develop a new high-speed MGVA motor to extend the MGV series of brushless synchronous servomotors with, which features water cooling and electromagnetic optimisation to offer increased service lifetimes, reduced maintenance and optimum performance to meet market expectations.
Test stands don't just require expertise in high-speed motors
Typically, any high-speed application will require a specialist integrator who will design the test rig system, looking for the right combination of products that will endure the rigours of the test campaign. This expert will need to decide on all the various mechanical factors of the system, such as ensuring the correct dimensions and rigidity of the test bench chassis to avoid resonance-relation vibration, choosing the best type of coupling according to the line shaft, speed, torque and acceleration, and ensuring that the temperature is controlled to avoid failure.
After this is complete, the specialist integrator will need to find an appropriate drive solution for controlling the MVGA servomotor, such as the Parker A30 drive. Above nominal speeds, the permanent magnet AC motor will need to be controlled under a ‘field weakening’ mode to protect the rig from overvoltage in case the power supply goes down.
A turnkey cabinet will then need to be built to enclose the rig. The cabinet should provide overvoltage protection and a four-quadrant active front end (AFE) solution if necessary, depending on the particulars of the test cycle. To complete the project, a water chiller is then installed for precision cooling.
Parker can provide custom solutions tailored to meet even the most challenging technical specifications. The expertise of our technology-focused engineering team allows the OEM to decide how much or how little support they need. Parker’s extensive portfolio, which includes motors, drives, controllers, HMIs, actuators and gearheads ensure the right combination of application-compatible products will be selected every time.
The high-speed electric vehicle test bench plays a vital role towards ensuring the safety and performance of vehicle electrification, which in turn will allow us all to enjoy cleaner air free of fine particles in the future.
Article contributed by Jean-Philippe Olry, application engineer industrial market, Electromechanical & Drives Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
23 Sep 2020