The move towards Industry 4.0 by motion and control technology leader Parker Hannifin’s pneumatics division will allow for “outstanding” condition monitoring and maintenance strategies, says Parker Hannifin Motion Systems Group account manager Selina Naidoo.
“Traditionally, maintenance operations have been based on either reactive or preventive methods. While a reactive strategy usually results in a loss of production and unforeseen costs, a preventive strategy ensures that systems or parts are maintained and repaired as a part of general maintenance procedures and not because repairs are urgently required.”
With the emergence of Industry 4.0 and more sophisticated and smarter technologies, maintenance strategies have gradually been shifting to predictive maintenance. To assist in this form of conditioning monitoring, Parker has developed the P8S continuous position sensor series, says Naidoo.
Naidoo tells Engineering News that the continuous position sensor unit allows for quick, easy and contactless sensing of a piston’s position. The continuous transfer of positioning data upgrades the functionality of the pneumatic linear actuator by making it more intelligent and versatile over input/output link communication. The units can make a significant contribution in creating a smarter, more efficient factory environment.
“The unit offers an outstanding price-to-performance ratio when compared to previously used methods. The sensor settings can easily be adjusted during installation using the teach button or during operation with the IO-Link communication. This continuous transfer of position data supports the Industry 4.0 initiative,” Naidoo adds.
Meanwhile, over the past five years, Parker has noted an increase in hydraulic and pneumatic product sales, made possible through its stocking distributor model. Through this model, distributors who operate in specific technology groups have been identified as being able to provide a strong, technical support with competitive pricing of hydraulic and pneumatic systems and components.
Mullen and Naidoo mention that the reliability and performance of hydraulic and pneumatic systems and components have improved significantly. However, the choice between the two is still based on application and speed, besides other factors, which may be required.
“Maximising the similarity in the fundamentals of hydraulics and pneumatics has prompted Parker to merge these two sectors into the Parker Motion Systems Group. The group also includes our electromechanical range, which can operate with, or support, existing hydraulic and pneumatic applications. This combination allows for further enhancement of the hydraulic and pneumatic industry performance,” explains Parker Hannifin Motion Systems Group account manager Keith Mullen.
The most notable challenge for the South African fluid power industry is the skills shortage.
“We are no longer seeing as many people completing their schooling or university who are considering hydraulics or pneumatics as a career,” Mullen states.
To mitigate this challenge, Parker is employing university graduates on a work-experience basis, whereby the company and candidate assess their compatibility and suitability for longer-term possibilities, he explains.
“We also have scholarship opportunities for suitable external candidates, as well as candidates from within Parker in line with the active implementation of the current Broad-Based Black Economic-Empowerment codes,” he concludes.