The Role of Actuators in Hydraulic Engineering

From the very outset that dates back to eons, innovative mind of the mankind has denoted the onward march of civilisation. On this score, every technique and technological innovation is regarded as a milestone in this advancement. It is right from the utility of a simple stick and a wheel’s circular movement to the design and development of modern- day mechanics.

Thus, from the oddest of crude modes and implements of yore, the science of mechanics has progressed to the present era of hydraulics and pneumatics. Over the past century, this technological transformation in dynamics has been enabled by a tiny livewire entity named actuator. It is a motor that lends motion and also controls the mechanism of a system.

Conceptually, an actuator functions on input of energy that could be electrical, hydraulic fluid pressure, or pneumatic pressure. It converts that input into motion. The input could be either fixed mechanical or electronic which incidentally is governed by software these days.

An electric actuator is the widely used medium to energise light as well as heavy machinery. It is powered by a motor that converts electrical energy to mechanical torque. In almost all the applications, electrical actuators energise various modes such as multi-turn valves. It is one of the cleanest and popular forms since there is no involvement of oil in the entire operations.

Since actuators have a key role in the operation of hydraulic systems, they are in great demand. The industries which are engaged in the manufacturing of heavy and light machinery, based on the engineering of hydraulics, simply rely on linear actuators. In principle, a linear actuator initiates a motion in a straight line. This is in contrast to the circular motion of a conventional electric motor.

Linear actuators have found applications in a wide range of tools and industrial machinery. Apart from valves and dampers, and in many other spheres, the linear actuators have a key role even in the ICT (information and communication technology) based products and applications. These are computer peripherals of disk drives and printers.

Made of the high intensity and high wear-endurance material, these actuators are assembled with high precision components. There are several advantages of linear actuators such as endurance of high load capacity, shock-resistance, low noise and durability.

The major manufacturers in this trade produce the following:

  • Cylinders
  • Aircraft Service Trolleys
  • Transport Systems
  • Hydraulic Distribution
  • Off Highway Products-Dana
  • Electromechanical Actuators – Linkan
  • Car Parking Systems

By and large, these actuators are categorised by the incorporated fasteners such as the acme screw and the ball screw. Relevant synchronisation and multiple positioning are effected by encoders depending on the wide range of applications. Apart from hydraulic and pneumatic engineering, the linear actuators have proved their utility in numerous allied techniques like electro-mechanical and piezoelectric-based systems.