Sometimes a lot is made of new technology. There is a tendency to talk about the next big thing in whatever field as “The Solution”. But there’s rarely just one solution that works for everyone.
Currently in the “car wars” (a favorite topic, since we are all effected by gasoline prices) many ideas have been advanced as “The Solution”. We heard a lot about bio-fuels reducing our dependency on oil by 30%, but now are primarily contributing to rising food prices. Hydrogen fuel cells will replace gasoline engines, but not anytime soon because we don’t have an infrastructure that can produce hydrogen as a fuel, nor an acceptable means to store it. And so it goes. This progression of ideas, and attempts to market same, makes the point that there is rarely a single solution that suits everyone.
Historically in the industrial controls field, companies are started because of a new idea. An engineer comes up with a new solution to an old problem, and Viola!, a new business is created. And as someone who knows, no, its really not that easy. The stepping motor gets invented, and a whole new generation of technology gets rolled out into the marketplace. Too bad the original inventor didn’t file for a patent.
But what comes along with new technology is a bias that the new solution will fit every application. And new companies can be very technology centric in their culture. So it came as quite a surprise to me that Festo Corporation, known for decades as one of the leading pneumatics suppliers, entered into the electromechanical arena.
Festo’s new products include stepping motors and leadscrews and linear motors for linear actuation with micron accuracy and speed. All of the new actuators are delivered in the same format of aluminum extrusion housing so that they are compatible with the classic pneumatic products.
And the point is: give customers more choices. Pneumatics offer high speed and high power density, but limited accuracy. So Festo came to the conclusion that not every actuator requirement is best approached with pneumatics. Sometimes complex speed profiles or higher position accuracies make electromechanical solutions a better choice. In addition, the ability to program position and speed parameters make electromechanical systems more convenient, with significant savings in setup and teardown time. A real plus in production environments.
Sounds like real progress to me. Keep the choices coming, customers will take advantage of the options.