When customers asked for a pneumatic cylinder that delivers more uptime, energy efficiency and flexibility in an integrated package, Norgren developed the new IVAC, or integrated valve and actuator control.
The IVAC combines the cylinder, pilot and control valves, flow controls, cushioning and sensors in a single actuator package that fits in the same ISO/VDMA footprint as a standard cylinder, Norgren product marketing manager Richard Bull tells New Equipment Digest.
NED: Why did Norgren decide to market this product?
RB: About three years ago, Norgren went to 40 OEM and end-user customers across industries in Europe, the United States and Asia Pacific and asked what attributes would give them competitive advantage. There were five things that came up again and again.
- First was increased uptime.
- Second was energy efficiency—reducing operating costs by reducing power consumption.
- Third, surprisingly, was aesthetics. OEMs want to build machines that look high quality, and end-users want plants that look efficient and clean.
- Fourth was the flexibility to meet application-specific requirements like high speed, greater control, or higher throughput.
- And fifth, they want motion control in an integrated package, combining multiple functions in one assembly.
NED: How is this cylinder different from similar products?
RB: More than a cylinder, Norgren’s new IVAC (integrated valve and actuator control) combines the cylinder, pilot and control valves, flow controls, cushioning and sensors in a single actuator package that fits in the same ISO/VDMA footprint as a standard cylinder.
The IVAC has just one electrical and one pneumatic connection, and putting the valve and actuator together eliminates the need to run tubing from remote valve islands to cylinders. Eliminating this much tubing means reduced air consumption and lower energy consumption (saving as much as 50%), simpler installation and maintenance and easier wash-down.
A clean-line version, with switches and valve inside a smooth casing, has an ingress protection rating of IP 67, making it suitable for high-pressure wash-down areas.
NED: What problems did you encounter during the development process?
RB: The challenge was to get all the necessary components into the same footprint as a standard cylinder so the IVAC could be used in new machines without design changes or to retrofit existing equipment. Only Norgren’s glandless spool valve was small enough to fit the IVAC package. We also had to build the flow controls into the actuator end caps so there was no protrusion.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
: Norgren started working on integrating valve and actuator towards the end of 2009. We worked with lead customers in order to develop a product that met real-world requirements. Some of them started using early versions of the integrated valve and actuator control in 2010. The standard product, in cylinder diameters from 32 to 100 mm, was launched globally in the summer of 2012.
NED: Did cost factors play a role in changing the final design of the product? And if so, in what way?
RB: It was not necessary to “value engineer” the design of the IVAC to reduce the cost of development. Norgren relied on our own portfolio of proven components and technologies to develop this new offering. We were very conscious, though, of the cost pressures faced by our customers, so a key motivation was to reduce their cost of commissioning, installation, operation, and the overall cost of ownership.
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