An electric actuator selection aid for low cost automation

Egbuna, C. Chukwudi (2008-03)

Thesis (MScEng (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


Low Cost Automation (LCA) is of immense importance to industry, and even more so for small scale industries. In implementing LCA determining cost effective and efficient actuator alternatives present challenges for design engineers. Most often decisions are experiential or entirely based on manufacturer recommendations. Experience based decisions are most often biased with respect to the engineers’ knowledge. Similarly, manufacturer recommendations are restricted to their own products and are as such also biased. Either way, sub-optimum drive alternatives may sometimes be chosen. This demonstrates the need for making better informed decisions based on more than experience and what is available for use. This thesis reports the development of an electric actuator selection procedure and aid for use in the early layout design phase. It provides readily accessible information on technically viable actuator options. Experiential knowledge of experts in the field, commercial information, as well as data obtained from experimentation was used in its development. Being orientated towards LCA, the procedure has been targeted at the application of electric motors and their associated control technologies but can be extended to hydraulic, pneumatic and other actuators. In achieving a wider applicability of the selection aid, a generic set of actuator properties descriptive of most actuators was formulated. An AC drives control evaluation was conducted for developing the selection procedure and aid. It provided a means to validate some selection aid rules associated with actuator controllability. Quantitative data on speed and positioning accuracies of common AC three phase motors and their associated inverter technologies were the targeted results of the experimentation.

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