How to Take Advantage of an Electric Power Take-Off

Posted March 24, 2021 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker

Ancillary implements on work trucks, like a crane shown here, normally are powered by an idling truck engine. Trends point to greener solutions like a DC-powered motor from Parker.

Ancillary implements on work trucks, like a crane shown here, normally are powered by an idling truck engine. Trends point to greener solutions like a DC-powered motor from Parker.

With the increased emphasis to reduce emissions, air pollution, resource waste and traffic noise, government legislation is pushing towards the use of electric power to drive ancillaries in work trucks. Parker Electro-mechanical products help make that happen.

This is particularly relevant in construction, materials handling and refuse collection applications operating in urban areas. Adopting electric power take-off (ePTO) as an alternative to the traditional PTO from an internal combustion engine (ICE), brings multiple benefits to the application, the operator, and the environment. Download the full list of benefits now.

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Key trends in automated material handling

Posted March 10, 2021 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker


Automation has made an accelerated climb in material handling applications. Now, automated material handling systems handle a wide range of repetitive and precision tasks in manufacturing and supply chains. Among the key trends are:

*Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS)
* Automated guided vehicles (AGVs0
* Material handling robots
* Improved battery technology

Download more about each trend in this report from Parker's Electro-mechanical team.

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Automate A Manual Process to Save Time, Money

Posted September 9, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker


How many opportunities do you have to automate a manual process in your manufacturing facility? Look around, you might be surprised.


Would you rather have a worker crawling on your machine doing cycle changes, or a PLC and Parker ETH cylinders doing it for you? That's what I thought.

One of my customers had a manufacturing process that required – get this – a worker to bypass a few hydraulic cylinder and valves, then manually push and pry the machine, then climb up on the machine and lock down a new position. The object that they were positioning was a large drilling device (it was an X-Y positioning system.)

This manual changeover took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. A perfect opportunity to automate a manual process.

While climbing around on a machine tool probably isn't one of the most hazardous jobs in America, the whole process certainly deserved a second look.

I asked them if they ever considered positioning with some sort of electro-mechanical system such as a demo I previously showed them — the Parker ETH Cylinder. The conversation continued over a few weeks, we brought in some engineering help, and the solution was purchased and integrated.

The new Parker-powered system paid for itself in less than 12 months year. The customer gained large production efficiency and lower cycle times (under a minute). Not to mention a much safer process to facilitate the changeover.  Now, the PLC tells the system where to position itself and everything happens automatically.



No word on what happened to the guy whose job used to be climbing around on the machine.

Trevor Sisco works with customers out of Innovative-IDM's Chicago store. You can reach him at

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Human Machine Interface affordable, even in simple applications

Posted March 2, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker

Tags: , ,

A Human Machine Interface, or HMI, is a computer with a touchscreen interface. It communicates with a programmable controller(s) to operate a machine. The HMI can replace lights, buttons, and dials to simplify the interface and greatly expand functionality.

Human Machine Interface screen

Instead of drilling holes and wiring for buttons, switches and buzzers, Human Machine Interface (HMI) touchscreens make machine operation easy on the operator and simple to train.

Machines typically need some sort of interface to control their operation. It could be as simple as a single on/off button or as complex as multiple consoles with flashing light, squawking buzzers, and myriad dials, buttons, and switches.

Lights and Switches Cost, Too

When designing a new machine or upgrading an existing one, many people struggle with the expense of an HMI and think the upfront cost cannot be justified. Especially if it is a simple system with only a few ways for the operator to interact with it. They reason a few lights and switches cost much less than a computer with a touchscreen interface. However, there are other costs that come with the lights and switches:

These input and output devices must be mounted and wired into the machine. This involves drilling or punching a hole for every device and mounting them, running wires from the controller and/or power source to the devices, and physically making the wiring connections. This all takes time.

The controller needs the inputs and outputs available to interface to these devices. As the I/O count of a controller goes up, so does the cost. And if any of these devices are analog, like gauges or potentiometers, the cost of additional analog inputs and outputs can add up fast. Remember, this is not I/O required for the controller to interface to the machine (sensors, thermocouples, valves, etc.); this is I/O just so the user can operate the machine.

An HMI, like the Parker CTC and its Xpress HMI software, can replace these devices by using one simple connection to the controller to allow communication. Once the HMI and controller are talking, the buttons, lights, switches, dials, gauges… can be represented graphically on the touchscreen. The user can push virtual buttons instead of physical ones. Need a blue button instead of green? No problem, a simple program change and you’re done; no need to order a new device and physically swap it out. Want to add some new status lights? Presto, just a few mouse clicks away.

Human Machine Interface Opens Possibilities

The HMI can also do things that were not possible before. What if the machine runs unattended most of the time? Would it be helpful if it could send alerts via text message or email if it had a problem? Getting it back up and running quickly eliminates downtime and keeps it making money. Would it be nice to know how many parts were made last week compared to this week? The Human Machine Interface can track, store, and present data easily to help pinpoint subtle trends that lead to lost productivity.


Jack Marsh writes about Human Machine Interface


The upfront cost of the HMI is not the whole picture. When compared to the labor and I/O points associated with traditional user interface devices, the cost of the HMI might be justified even in simple machines. Adding in the increased flexibility and functionality an Human Machine Interface can provide makes it starts to look like a very easy decision.

Jack Marsh is a motion control specialist for Innovative-IDM, and a member of the IIDM President's Club. He can be reached at

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Yaskawa Servo Controller Streamlines Extrusion Die Adjustments

Posted February 5, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker, Yaskawa

Tags: , , ,

One of our clients needed a solution for automatically adjusting his horizontal extrusion die. The die controls the thickness of a plastic web about 72 inches wide.

Previously, the 72 bolts across the top of the die were adjusted by hand by an operator. The worker would compare the readings on a nuclear micrometer to what the set point was. This was labor intensive and required a lot of the operator’s attention, time he should have been dedicating to watching the machine and its operation.

Servo controllers, motors and Modbus solved a die adjustment problem on this extrusion machine.

Servo controllers, motors and Modbus solved a die adjustment problem on this extrusion machine.

Our solution was to incorporate a Yaskawa multi-axis servo controller with four servo amplifiers and motors and Modbus communication to interface with their micrometer.

A brief explanation: Two motors are mounted on two “heads.” Each head consists of:

  • A position motor with a gear reducer that travels on a linear gear across the die
  • And, an adjusting motor with a socket mounted to the motor shaft that pneumatically lowers down on a bolt to adjust it.

Each head is taught the position of the first bolt by moving it manually to that position. The distance between each bolt is inputted into the system through the Parker HMI. Then each head travels across the die, learning the positions of every bolt and the rotational position of each bolt head. In case of vibrations or other external influences to the bolts, the system has the ability to relearn on the fly the rotational position of any bolt.

The micrometer will message the servo controller via Modbus when a portion of the web is out of tolerance. The servo controller is told which bolt is causing the error and by how much. The “head” closest to the offending bolt will move to a bolt 3 bolts away. Then, alternating between bolts on either side of the offender, the head start adjusting the bolts. The outside bolts receive minor adjustments working up to a full adjustment on the center (and offending) bolt.

Result; the operator can manage the machine and not have to micromanage a bunch of bolts.


Productivity up. We do solutions like this for customers every month. If you tell us y

our problem, we probably can help your efficiency.

Stewart Bissell is a Field Applications Engineer in Innovative-IDM's Dallas office. He can be reached at


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Rotary Motors vs. Linear Motors

Posted January 25, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Parker


Rotary motors and linear motors can, in many cases, be utilized to accomplish the same goal. Linear motors leverage the same basic magnetic theory as rotary varieties, but in an open and flattened form. As with rotary varieties, a myriad of linear motors exist: Linear steppers, linear AC induction, permanent magnet, and brushless. Linear motors also utilize drives, motion positioners, and feedback devices such as linear encoders.

Parker Linear Motor

Parker's Electric Thrust Tubular (ETT) Series is a tubular style linear motor.

Linear motor benefits include faster speeds, maximum possible acceleration, and much higher accuracy than their rotary counterparts. Consider that replacing a rotary open-loop stepper with a rotary closed-loop servo can improve accuracy by a factor of 80 times; substituting a linear motor can improve accuracy by a factor of 500 times.

Likewise, a typical servomotor and ball screw with a pitch of 5 rev/in. can move a load at 20 to 40 in./sec; in contrast, a linear motor can provide speeds to 400 in./sec. The same servomotor may accelerate at up to 2 g, while the linear motor accelerates at 10 g.

Finally, the typical servomotor-ball screw actuator provides accuracy ranging from 0.001 to 0.0001 in., while the linear motor provides 0.0007 to 0.000008-in. accuracy. Note that these figures don’t account for coupling and ball screw backlash factors. One of the only disadvantages of a linear motor is its initial cost.

Common uses for linear motors

Linear motors are used in short-move pick and place and inspection equipment (to 60 in./sec), longer moves and flying shear applications (to 200 in./sec), and roller coasters, people movers, and vehicle launching systems (2,000 in./sec). They are also used in semiconductor and electronics markets, laser cutting and water etching machines, material handling, component insertion, and bottle labeling and inspection equipment.

When investigating rotary and linear motors, application considerations include speed and accuracy. Comparing the relative price (whether rotary or linear), steppers are the least expensive, followed by induction, permanent magnet, and finally brushless motors.

When comparing the costs of linear and rotary motors, keep in mind that the latter requires motor mounting and possibly a gearbox, ball screw, or belt drive, plus bearings, a slide, and cabling. The linear system requires a bearing system and cabling.

Linear motors are easily configured into multi-axis stages — typically most expensive, as they encompass either a single or multiple-axis mechanical system to position the payload, plus linear motor, bearings, encoder, limit switches, cable carrier, and bellows.



Troy Hardy is a field applications engineer at the Dallas branch of Innovative-IDM. You can reach him at

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