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Integrated pneumatic actuators cut energy costs `by up to 50%`

15 August, 2012

Norgren has developed a range of integrated pneumatic cylinders which combine valves, flow controls, cushioning and sensors in a single actuator package, claimed to cut air consumption and energy costs by up to 50%. The Ivac (integrated valve and actuator control) system has just one pneumatic and one electrical connection, eliminating the need for multiple valve islands, components, tubing and accessories.

Conventional pneumatic controls require arrangements of valves or valve islands, actuators, flow controls and sensors, together with connectors and accessories. In a typical application, up to 13 different components may be needed for each actuator function. This complexity results in drawbacks and performance constraints.

Working with its customers, Norgen claims have overcome these shortcomings with a system that will cut costs for both OEMs and end-users. The Ivac actuator, which spans bore sizes from 40–80mm, incorporates valve and magnetically operated switches. It can be used in new systems or retrofitted to existing machines.

The integrated system is said to be easy to install, maintain and replace. Commissioning and maintenance times and costs have been reduced, leading to an increase in productivity.

By eliminating air piping between the valves and actuators, the “dead” volume is minimised, reducing air consumption by up to 50% and cutting the cost per mm of stroke compared to conventional pneumatic systems. For a machine operating two million cycles per year, Norgren says that the new system will save enough energy to recover its cost within one year.

Variations and options include cleanline versions for industrial cylinders, industrial slave cylinders and easy washdown versions, helping OEMs to comply with hygiene regulations.

The Ivac products conform with the latest ISO VDMA dimensions, avoiding the need for mechanical design changes. The single M12 connection for input and output can be hardwired or plugged into a variety of fieldbus systems.

According to Richard Bull of Norgren, the Ivac actuator will help to cut energy costs, installation costs, and air consumption, while reducing downtime for cleaning and maintenance.

“The design is based on maximum modularity to allow all components to be easily assembled and disassembled,” he explains. “Essential factors of the Ivac’s modular concept include a special pilot module which is placed directly at the end of the actuator barrel, and the integration of a pneumatic interface, position sensing, display for status and electrical connection.”

Bull reports that the actuator’s hygienic design “is already generating considerable interest among potential users, design engineers, production managers and plant maintenance engineers across a whole host of applications where hygiene cannot be compromised.” For example, the keg processing equipment specialist KHS Kriftel has installed Ivac systems on its new CombiKeg product line.

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