Speed Product Development
Application Update: Tap the expertise of suppliers for help in selecting and specifying dc motors and other complex components can lead to significant time and cost savings.
The rapid pace of technological change and the need to develop and manufacture new products more cost effectively are having a tremendous impact on today’s lean industrial workforce, beginning with those who are practitioners of design engineering.
Whether we’re talking medical devices, processing equipment, marine applications, or some other type of consumer or industrial product or system, the story is similar. Corporate leaders globally are making greater demands on product development teams. They are pressing design engineers to think more creatively and challenging them to search hard to find the means to shorten the product development cycle and also reduce overall product development costs.
Such directives suggest the need to significantly reduce the time that design engineers devote to researching and selecting vendor-supplied components, including dc electric motors, pumps, valves, switches, relays, and sensors. Still, even as design engineers seek to address these cost-cutting issues, they must remain true to achieving the primary goal—development of high-quality products and systems that work to satisfy the needs of customers by offering “real-world” solutions through innovative advances in product design. In addressing the long list of dc motors and various other components that will be called upon to give substance to computer-aided designs, product developers may likely find that contrary to the familiar refrain heard from the classic Rolling Stones’ song, time is “not” on their side. This is especially true when there are fewer people on the product development team.
In any event, it can take a considerable amount of time for design engineers to first determine an optimal set of specifications for a particular needed component, and then identify a readily available part that fits or most closely matches the combination of specifications. While design engineers are thoroughly versed in the possible applications of such components as fractional horsepower dc electric motors and related items such as switches, relays, and sensors, they cannot possibly be expected to be fully acquainted with every design feature and key specification of every individual component that is destined to become part of their finished product or system.
One motor company offers more than 500 part numbers for 12-24 V fractional horsepower dc electric motors, including sealed and nonsealed dc motors with or without gear units, as well as dc motors equipped with blowers, water pressure pumps, or water-circulation pumps. And that’s just one company.
What about the specifications that must be considered when choosing dc motors for diverse consumer, medical, and industrial applications? They typically include nominal volts, nominal watts, nominal power, nominal current, maximum current, nominal speed, nominal torque, breakaway torque, reduction, direction of rotation, type of duty, degree of protection, and weight.
Matching dc motor specifications to the product application adds complexity. Other aspects of the dc motor and integration into the overall product design must be addressed, such as shaft size, shaft speed, mountings, torque capacity, electrical connectors, and operating voltage. Ultimately, the motor may also need to be supplied with some precise modifications for it to sufficiently meet the product design requirements.
Choosing dc electric motors and other components for a new or redesigned application can be a complex, time-consuming puzzle. Design engineers often explore the websites of parts suppliers for answers on types of dc motors, switches, relays, and other related parts that can be accessed through enhanced online search tools, providing other important information that can be helpful to a parts research. Explanations are available on parameters, characteristic curves, operating modes, and other aspects of dc motors, including applications such as medical and rehabilitation applications, building systems, drive units, and industrial applications. In some instances, browsing websites of parts suppliers is enough to identify project components. Other times, the fastest, most efficient, most cost-effective method of choosing complex components may be to take advantage of the specialized engineering and consulting services major parts suppliers provide.
The best time to turn to suppliers for assistance with parts selection is toward the beginning of the product development project. By knowing and understanding well in advance how components are to be used, where they may be installed within the finished product or system, and the results they are expected to deliver as part of the total design package, the parts supplier’s engineering consultants can offer timely advice to make informed purchasing decisions.
Supplier advice can lead to a modified product design for better-than-planned-for results. For example, some years ago a manufacturer’s consulting-engineering team worked closely with a Brazilian company that produces linear actuators used for raising and lowering dental chairs. Previously the manufacturer used ac motors to power the actuators.
Using supplier recommendations, the company switched to the 24-V dc electric motor for an actuator redesign project. The motor delivers 45 Nm of torque at 45 rpm. Advantages for the dental chair application include less noise compared to models powered by ac motors or hydraulic systems. That’s a good selling point for the actuator manufacturer and the dental chair makers, and a major user-friendly benefit for the dental practices using the redesigned automated dental chairs.
The dc motors require less maintenance than ac motor- or hydraulic-powered units, since they use no oil or other aggressive chemicals that regularly need to be changed. Less maintenance reduces costs for the end user.
By taking advantage of the motor manufacturer’s engineering and consulting expertise early in the redesign project, the actuator manufacturer’s product development team remained true to design goals, while using the motor manufacturer to help with parts selection and lower R&D costs.
Design engineering teams don’t have time to solve complex component selection puzzles on their own. Lean design engineering departments and tight R&D budgets benefit from a knowledgeable, strategic-minded, cost-cutting guide to clarify ambiguities of component selection. That cost-cutting guide is the parts supplier.
Bosch technologies for motion control
Bosch i-Business Group offers more than 500 part numbers for 12-24 V fractional horsepower Bosch dc electric motors. They include sealed and nonsealed dc motors, with or without gear units, as well as dc motors equipped with blowers, water pressure pumps, or water-circulation pumps. The Bosch i-Business website, www.bosch-ibusiness.com, has a detailed catalog of Bosch dc motors, switches, relays, and other related parts that can be easily accessed through its proprietary online search tool. It also provides other important information that can be helpful to parts research. For example, there are explanations regarding the parameters, characteristic curves, operating modes, and other aspects of the dc motors described in the Bosch catalog. The website shows some applications for which Bosch dc motors are suitable, including medical and rehabilitation applications, building systems, drive units, and industrial applications. Based on Bosch recommendations, the company switched to the 24-V Bosch "CEP" dc electric motor for an actuator redesign project. Bosch Model F006.WM0.310 delivers 45 Nm of torque at 45 rpm.
In 2011, Bosch is celebrating its 125th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Robert Bosch.
- Kenn Langosch is sales manager, Bosch i-Business Group, Robert Bosch LLC, Broadview, Ill.