In the past, agricultural OEMs had two primary choices when it came to selection of actuators for applications such as folding sprayer booms: hydraulic or pneumatic. However, Thomson Industries reckons that its latest generation of linear actuators could be about to change that
Pneumatic and hydraulic actuators obviously require supporting systems to operate, and these take up space and add weight on a vehicle platform, and both are at a premium as manufacturers move to improve vehicle packaging. Pipework makes installation more difficult, and it takes up time on both the production line and during maintenance work either in the field or in the workshop.
Traditional hydraulic actuators also pose the problems of compromise in the integrity of pipework which can cause leakage of hydraulic fluid onto crops, rendering them unusable. Hydraulic systems are also – says Thomson Industries - inherently expensive and have considerable power consumption needs that must also be considered.
As an alternative, the H-Track electro-hydraulic actuator from Thomson offers the performance of a traditional hydraulic actuator whilst overcoming the shortcomings. Its motor, pump and valves are integrated into a mini ‘Power Pack’ mounted onto the cylinder. This allows completely self-contained hydraulic actuation without the need for external pipework. Able to exert forces up to 22 kN and designed to cope with the hard use associated with agricultural applications, the H-Track is said to offer the builders of these machines the required performance too.
In terms of installation, the H-Track is connected via two wires. All external pipework is eliminated, expediting installation and maintenance says Thomson. All H-Tracks are lubricated for life, which further minimises maintenance requirements, with this simple arrangement ensuring that the H-Track offers considerable time savings on both the production line and in the field. Clearly, eliminating pipework also negates the risk of crop contamination due to fluid leakage too.
Space efficiency is also enhanced, as the self-contained H-Track combines all of its required features within the power pack and cylinder. Packaging is consequently improved as well as overall weight and another advantage is the reduced power requirements needed.
Additional capabilities include an immunity to vibrational drifting and hydraulic self-locking when the load is reversed. The compact pump and valves can also be configured to the requirements of an individual application. To withstand the outdoors, the H-Track can be specified in either IP67 or IP69K ingress protection ratings, with a standard operating temperature range of between -40°C to 82°C.