SAIMC


SAIMC: Durban branch

January 2022 SAIMC


On 3 November the branch was treated to an informative presentation, given by Dewald Smit of Festo, using Zoom as the virtual medium. He provided a well-balanced comparison of the relative advantages and disadvantages of electric and pneumatic actuators, including their electrical supply and compressed air requirements. He first discussed compressed air systems in which considerable energy losses may be incurred if systems are not designed carefully, with many systems losing as much as 30% of their compressed air through leakages and further losses caused by pressure drops in the distribution pipes and fittings. Ways of optimising the pneumatic system were offered, including the use of boosters and the need to have measurements showing pressure profiles, before moving on to examine the total cost of ownership for electric and pneumatic drives.

Dewald demonstrated a program that can be used to study any type of application to determine whether pneumatic or electric actuation will be the best choice. It allowed for factors like the required cycle time, frequency of operation, Ex protection etc., to be input and a comparison made of the operational cost over time. Some interesting results, in some cases counter intuitive, were obtained that highlighted the importance of all factors to be considered when choosing this type of system at the design phase. A further aspect which was covered was the need to select the correct size of actuator, as they are frequently oversized and consequently waste energy.

A lively discussion followed before Dewald was thanked for his interesting presentation, which was the last for this year. It has been recorded and is available for people who were unable to attend.


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