Top 8 Things to Remember While Programming a Linear Actuator

| Updated on March 27, 2024

A linear actuator is an electrical device that converts electrical energy to mechanical energy by pushing or pulling on a rod. These actuators are commonly found in many mechanisms, including modern automobiles. Understanding how a linear actuator works is essential to maintain your production line and prevent costly downtime.

Avoid Over-Programming the Actuation Signal

A common source of errors is overdriving the actuating signal. For example, with a standard four-wheel actuator, just enough movement is required to apply half of the force necessary to make up for friction or other inefficiencies at the driving wheel. Both wheels are used with equal pressure when this bug occurs and causes excessive wear on your drive train.

Be sure that you fully understand all regular physical contacts

Specifically, the contact condition that is being tested should be anticipated. While you will apply some statistics to determine whether a specific program is likely to work as expected, a thorough understanding of the physical geometry of the device under test will help reduce the number of programs required for testing.

Test all Components for Wear, Corrosion, and Reliability

It is essential to test all cabling and any electrical contacts connected to the actuator. It includes known goods and those that are new or suspect in nature. Additionally, you need to know the actual physical shape of the component to test it thoroughly when it is running under load. For example, during assembly, a hook-type actuator may have surface damage from an errant customer tool or screwdriver. If this damage is not caught during the inspection, you will have difficulty seeing these issues with a standard visual inspection program.

Document all Changes to the Program

A common source of failure is forgetting to return a program from testing after changing the load and actuation signal. If you do not document the change and return it to testing, you will lose data for that specific part.

Your Load Must Be Sequenced Correctly During Programming

Suppose the actuator is driven with a different load sequence than intended. In that case, this can force a specific signal onto the actuator and create damaging effects on the operation of your production line or assembly line.

The Input and Output Components are Fully Documented in Your Part Program

If you are applying a signal to a motor or motor controller, document the expected load placed upon the controller when it is activated. If there is an unexpected load on the controller during operation, this can force it into an overheated state and could cause damage. It can also happen if the controller is loaded without expecting its input signal.

Test Your Parts Thoroughly 

When you are programming a standard four-wheel actuator, you need to understand that you can drive a motor in two different ways. You can either go the engine in continuous rotation or in a pulsed mode where power is applied only while the rotating shaft moves through a specific angle. It would be best if you documented drive time in both of these programs, and the selected mode should be controlled by a braking signal on the electrical side of the device.

Ensure that Your System Can Use a Serviceable Field Device

If your system is strictly used for production but has no way to add additional sensors or test cells to the production line without the parts released from the line, then the system is not robust enough to be used by field service engineers. A non-field serviceable device would require manually resetting itself after each use and has little value to any engineer inspecting or replacing parts on a production line.

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons why you should keep these rules and procedures in mind when programming linear actuators. You can avoid costly downtime, produce better results, and maximize your production line uptime

Chitra Joshi

Content Writer & Marketer

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