It’s no secret that the Millennial Generation’s practices and preferences are shifting consumer product design and marketing messages across the board. But how does that trend affect product design in the world of industrial manufacturing? Are we seeing similar trends in pneumatic and electromechanical design on the factory floor?
The short answer is yes. Millennial engineers, or makers - a popular term coined by this generation, are leading the transformation of our industry. Makers are known for their self-sufficiency. They don’t want to have to make a phone call or wait several days for information. They want to be able to find the answers themselves and get on with their creations.
The key is that members of this generation are not afraid to challenge the process or the system. When it comes to pneumatic and electromechanical actuator sizing, the process has been the same for decades. Actuators are designed conservatively to meet many safety and service factors. Calculations are complex but everyone has designed this way because it has worked, and why fix something that is not broken? The reality of this approach, is that very large actuators are specified across a machine and the makers are asking “do the actuators really have to be that big?”
Tools that allow users to simulate their system design with the exact components they need to create the desired motion are helping us to understand that the actuators can be much smaller. We can now design actuators that are specific to the application while saving money and cost.
Parker’s Virtual Engineer is a web-based product selection program that enables this generation to go out there and get the answers. Users don’t need to have studied electrical engineering to operate. Recently graduated engineers are being asked to specify components on a wide variety of machinery or systems that they haven’t created. No matter what your technical background is you can specify an actuator. It allows the designer to jump in and make a difference – and that’s what the makers are looking to do.
Virtual Engineer was designed for pneumatic and electromechanical actuator sizing in linear motion applications. Users are able to:
Take an application from concept to a complete solution
Capture application data and provide results based on user preference
Generate interactive 3D models
Size and select without additional calling or emailing
Leverage thousands of behind-the-scenes calculations
Collaborate with others in the development process
Streamline the quotation process and create a bill of materials
Compare and contrast product solutions
Learn more about Virtual Engineer here.
This article was contributed by Marissa Tucker, product marketing manager for controls and HMI and Tim Faillo, global program manager for factory automation, Parker Hannifin Corporation.