Drives and Controls Magazine
Pneumatic actuator contains the works
Published:  01 May, 2000

Pneumatic actuator contains the works

Hoerbiger-Origa has managed to squeeze all of the components normally found between a PLC and a pneumatic valve into a single device. The result is an electropneumatic actuator that contains valves, electronics, sensors, tubing and accessories, as well as an AS-i field bus interface.

Hoerbiger-Origa says that the actuator, called Interact, will simplify the design and assembly of pneumatic systems. A string of actuators can be daisy-chained together in a loop linked by an AS-i cable. The field bus connections eliminate the need for traditional RS232-based hard-wired networks.

Ray Barnes, Hoerbiger-Origa`s UK marketing manager, maintains that it is neither logical nor cost-effective to keep discrete wiring between the central controller and each actuator while removing the wiring between the cylinders and valves.

"Our system requires the connection of a single air fitting and an AS-i plug connector," he says. "System assembly requires no specialist knowledge and the concept practically eliminates the possibility of mis-connections."

Because the UK lags behind mainland Europe in adopting field bus technologies, Barnes does not expect the cylinder to sell in large volumes initially. "Undoubtedly, the biggest hurdle we have to clear in convincing customers is in making the case for field bus. Once we`ve done that, then the actuator`s advantages are obvious."

The smart cylinder is available in both rodless and rodded formats, with bore sizes of 25-50mm and 32-63mm respectively. Because the actuator has the same mounting dimensions as a conventional device, it can be retrofitted into existing installations.

Hoerbiger-Origa has also launched a range of compact pneumatic modules which allow the same integrated principle to be applied retrospectively to other standard actuators. These "air-box" modules, first developed by Kuhnke and since marketed by Siemens and others, provide a compact alternative to small blocks of manifold valves.