Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jul-Aug 2016 Contents Some of the simplest solutions to
materials handling - lifting, shifting and
production automation - tasks are also
the easiest to overlook among the plethora of
sophisticated options available to manufacturers
A case in point is air-actuated scissor lifts,
which provide durable, hygienic and safe
lifting methods for applications that require
pneumatic operation rather than hydraulic, such
as explosion-proof or environmentally sensitive
locations and some aggressive environments,
where dust and grit are an issue and avoidance
of contamination is important.
Scissor lift and tilt tables can be cost-efficiently
actuated by compact heavy-duty air bag
actuators that are connected to a plant's standard
7 bar (100 psi) shop air system. Such air bag
(or air springs) scissor tables are used in a wide
variety of applications globally to improve worker
ergonomics and enhance plant efficiencies.
Air-actuated scissor lifts offer durable, low-
precision, low-cost and portable lifting that can
be readily customised to fit specific material
handling application requirements, including
conveyors and lift tables in production and
packaging applications, ranging from delicate
and clean food processing to heavy and dirty
minerals and powder processing tasks.
"Despite the vastly different weights and loads
often involved, the principal advantages are the
same," said James Maslin, sales and marketing
manager for Air Springs Supply, the Australian
distributor of Firestone Air Springs.
"The attributes that make these airbag
actuators and isolators attractive to each
industry -- including simplicity, durability and
no guides or seals to wear and break under
the impact of grime or corrosives -- means they
often excel when the going gets tough and the
environment gets aggressive and dirty. They
are also easy to wash down and don't attract
dirt to oily surfaces, because they don't have
any to disrupt hygiene."
In capacities from a few dozen kilograms
to more than 40 tons per unit, they're clean,
quiet and extremely tough - after all, these are
typically the same airbags on which big trucks
ride, replacing metal springs because of their
comfort, durability and load-friendly smooth
performance. Lack of noise and breakdowns is
a major safety benefit.
The largest triple convoluted Airstroke actuator
is 940mm (37 inches) in diameter and will
collapse to a very compact 140mm (5.5").
The smallest Airstroke actuator is 58mm
(2.3") in diameter and collapses to just 31mm
(1.2") in height. Firestone's even smaller but
robust Airomatic pneumatic actuators stand
just 11mm (0.45") high deflated for ultra-
compact installation in light load applications
demanding high reliability, rapid cycling and
"In essence, an air actuator is simply two
end plates connected by a bladder, and as
they're pressurised, force pushes the plates
away from each other," Mr Maslin said.
In most cases, the minimum (or deflated)
height is considerably less than the available
stroke. As a result, air springs can be put
in a very compact space and extended to
more than twice their starting height. This is
a tremendous benefit in floor-mounted lifting
devices, such as scissor lifts."
Both convoluted and rolling sleeve types
of air spring operate in the same simple way:
compressed air (and sometimes liquids) is
directed into the air springs, expanding their
fabric-reinforced rubber bladders to expand in
a linear fashion from their compact collapsed
state to become force-developing actuators.
The available stroke of an Airstroke air
spring is limited by the length of the side
wall. This length is determined by stability
factors (length-to-diameter considerations).
These design needs can frequently be met
by specifying either single, double or triple-
convoluted air springs.
Their lack of seals also means lack of friction.
In many cases, a constant force needs to be
applied to a moving object. With traditional
cylinders, the sliding seals can stick, providing
a jerky motion that can damage equipment.
"The type of actuation engineers design
into their materials handling technology
depends very much on the task involved, says
Mr Maslin. "For some slower, precision and
less repetitive applications, hydraulics can
be the way to go. For faster, high-repetition
applications, pneumatics such as air springs
are the ideal solution. No one type of actuation
is ideal for every task.
"What is for certain, however, is that air
springs are a maintenance-free, compact
and easy-to-install option for a huge variety of
tasks for which they are not always considered
in Australia, including scissor lifts and other
materials handling tasks. Where the primary
requirements are lower cost,
simplicity, rapid cycling and
extremely durability, they
very definitely have some
For more information call
+61 2 9807 4077, email
email@example.com or visit
SIMPLE SCISSOR LIFT ACTUATORS CUT OUT COMPLEXITY
AND COST IN CONVEYORS AND PROCESSING
Left: Simplicity of air springs construction,
left, and the tiniest of the air spring
family, the Airomatic actuator, right,
designed for delicate conveyor and food
and beverage processing.
Below: Air Springs Supply also offers
soft touch inflating pickers and
grippers, left, which complement Air
Spring actuators and isolators, right,
with a rolling sleeve type centre.
"What is for certain, however, is that air springs are a
maintenance-free, compact and easy-to-install option."
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JULY / AUGUST 2016
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