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Software will drive motion control's future

Software will drive motion control's future

A veteran of more than 22 years in the motion control industry, Bistis became president of Deltran last year. His professional experience includes stints as purchasing and materials manager, production control manager, manager of information systems, manufacturing and operations manager, sales and marketing manager, and director of new product development for emerging technologies. Bistis attended Monmouth College in New Jersey, and went to work in manufacturing upon graduation.

Fluid power won't fade away, says Barry Bistis, but more and more engineers will turn to electrically powered actuation systems.

Design News: How have developments in the motion-control industry affected aircraft actuation system design?

Bistis: Electric motion control components and systems have developed into highly reliable, cost-effective alternatives and/or solutions to aircraft actuation systems challenges, particularly in the area of systems integration. New fly-by-wire systems are taking advantage of the greater degree of control now available in a smaller, lighter, less-maintenance-intensive package.

Q: When will actuation systems like those your company worked on for Cessna and Lear enter service on larger commercial aircraft?

A: They are already beginning to appear. Most aircraft have used electric actuation for secondary control systems for years. The new Boeing 777 incorporates many such actuators in several key systems, including avionics and environmental systems, as well as secondary flight-control actuators.

Q: What problems can your firm's electromagnetic clutches and brakes solve for aerospace industry design engineers?

A: Electromagnetic clutches and brakes can and do meet many of the needs of today's design engineers. There is a constant cry for smaller, lighter devices which are faster, and require less maintenance, than currently used components. Our technology addresses these critical needs. From something as simple as a spring-set or permanent-magnet brake to hold an actuator in position in the event of power loss, to the more sophisticated requirements of the Space Shuttle's cargo bay door actuation, clutches and brakes are a safe, reliable, cost-effective means of meeting today's challenges.

Q: How important is application support to aerospace design engineers?

A: Application support is the name of the game. No technology will move ahead if there is not a great deal of support afforded the design engineer.

Q: How has the PC affected the motion control field?

A: The advent of computers and the proliferation of high-speed processors have revolutionized the motion control industry. Communication and control can now be accomplished quickly and easily within a simple, user-friendly environment. Sophisticated programming can be made available to almost anyone with a PC and the proper software. This capability was unheard of just a few years ago.

Q: How will the roles of the PC and PLC, as elements in a motion control system, change in the future?

A: The PLC will most likely always have a place in process control and manufacturing, but the use of PCs will increase in those areas, as well as in other areas, more and more in the future. With faster processors and a better--I mean faster--means of communication, the PC will become dominant. Software will be the answer to almost all of tomorrow's problems, and companies leading the way in software will prevail.

Q: How does design for manufacturability affect the design and production of motion control devices?

A: DFM is not just today's buzzword acronym. It must become the norm if we are to succeed today. The days of "design at all costs" are long gone. Some aerospace companies are learning this fact the hard way. Manufacturers must not only meet the specification, but must do it within the budget. We must be able not only to compete in a world market environment, but more importantly, to dominate these markets by offering superior design and value to the customer.

Q: To what extent can electrical and electromagnetic devices and systems replace fluid power devices and systems?

A: There is a place for both hydraulic and electrical actuation systems on tomorrow's aircraft. The extremely high load requirements of primary flight control systems mean that they will remain hydraulic. But fly-by-wire systems are becoming more prevalent every day. As new aircraft are introduced and the market's demands for smaller, lighter, faster, less maintenance-intensive components become greater, the use of strictly hydraulic actuators will be significantly reduced and the conversion will be more intensely driven. In fact, it's already happening.

TAGS: Aerospace
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