Servo Motors Drive Growth Across the Robotics, Manufacturing and Energy Industries
Servo motors are reshaping the tech industry. A component once common in hobby shops is now on the cutting edge of robotics and industrial automation.
Thanks to their high output, small size and durable design, servos excel in harsh conditions. They provide unmatched precision and reliability while improving operational efficiency and increasing worker safety.
Now that communication protocols like EtherCAT and CANOpen are standard across the automation industry, there are even more possibilities for this rapidly growing technology.
Servo Motors in Robotics
Since George Devol introduced the Unimate in 1961, robots have changed the manufacturing landscape. Sixty years later, this exciting technology has yet to reach its zenith.
As robots become increasingly sophisticated, servo motors can be found at every actuating joint in these systems. Their proven design allows a drive to track and control the motor’s current, velocity, and position in relation to itself and other moving parts to provide a fully coordinated range of motion.
Servo Motors in Precision Manufacturing
Motion-control technology is invaluable for automating repetitive manufacturing tasks, such as cutting, welding and materials handling. In laser cutting systems and CNC routers, servos determine the cutting speed and path. They also help robots perform tasks that are repetitive or require super-human strength and precision.
Because these systems have electronic controls that accept external feedback-based commands, they can be used in clean rooms that are needed for manufacturing semiconductors, medical devices and microcomponents.
Servo Motors for Drones and Unmanned Vehicles
Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles are two other technologies that wouldn’t exist without servo motors. The same technology used in remote-controlled toys now powers military drones, UAVs and submarine exploration pods.
Servos don’t just control the propellers. They also steer the system by responding to user inputs. According to Goldman Sachs, drones will generate $100 billion in investment opportunities between 2016 and 2020, and servo motors are central to this explosive growth.
Conventional vehicles also benefit from servo motors. These electronic components are critical at all tiers of the industry. In automotive factories, servo motors power robotic systems that weld, stamp and fabricate components.
Servos are featured extensively in completed vehicles where they control moving parts, steering assemblies and crash-avoidance systems that provide on-demand assistance and respond to incoming data.
The energy industry is taking full advantage of servo-based automation technology. Servo motors are used in wind turbines as well as mechanized tracking systems that help solar panels follow the sun. The gas and oil industry uses brushless servo motors to control valves and to guide downhole drilling equipment.
Based on global data, the International Energy Agency expects utility consumption to rise by 28 percent between 2015 and 2040, so demand for servo motors should increase dramatically in this sector.
The Next Frontier
Just as computers and microprocessors continue to evolve, the full potential of servo motors remains to be seen. These components have shaped some of the biggest technology breakthroughs in the past 60 years, but the best is yet to come.
Innovations like autonomous vehicles are right around the corner, and even more possibilities are on the horizon.