In most garages, warehouses, and other storage rooms, space is organized in a completely non-ergonomic way. We can show you how to fix this. Learn how a motorized shelf lift saves precious space without making you go too far.
Motorized Shelf Lifts and Ergonomics
Mechanized shelves save space with their mobility, automatically hiding up under the ceiling when direct access to them is unnecessary.
This approach saves you from constantly climbing a ladder or a chair, which can be extremely inconvenient and even dangerous if the thing placed on the shelf is rather heavy.
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What Lies in the Core Motorized Shelf Lifts’ Construction?
The heart of any vertical appliance lift shelf is a lifting mechanism that’s based on actuators - electric (linear), hydraulic, or pneumatic.
Electric linear actuators convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. They use either a rotating or a linear electric motor as a power source. The rotating electric motor moves the rod by means of a mechanical converter, for example, with the help of a ball screw or roller screw pair.
Pneumatic and hydraulic drives are actually mechanical converters and represent a kind of insert (pneumatic or hydraulic) between the motor and the actuator.
Note that electric drives win over hydraulics and pneumatics in that they have the highest positioning accuracy. That’s why they are used most often, including convenient designs of motorized shelf lifts.
Read more on electric linear actuator-powered solutions.
How does a linear actuator work?
A linear actuator is a sort of a drive that works differently from a regular rotary motor: Unlike a rotary machine, a linear motor doesn’t create rotary motion for the driven object but moves it in a straight line or along a curved path.
A linear actuator is used when the dynamics generated by a rotary servomotor is not sufficient and when a straight forward motion (linear motion) must be achieved instead. This is the case, for instance, when a direct drive is required (linear motors) or precise motion processes must be implemented (via linear cylinders).
While rotary motors need transmission elements (belts, chains, etc.) in order to indirectly derive translational motion from rotary motion, linear actuators allow motion and traction forces to be realized directly. Therefore, linear motors are also considered direct drives.
Linear motors can develop very high accelerations (up to 6 g) and travel speeds up to 13 m/s (48 km/h).
You can learn more about the actuator essentials in our dedicated blog.
How to Pick a Linear Actuator?
To select a suitable linear actuator, you need to determine the basic requirements of the system, such as:
- movement speed (m/s, mm/min, cm/min, mm/s, etc.);
- moving effort (push/pull) (N, kilogram-force);
- stroke length (mm, cm, m);
- preferred supply voltage (12V, 24V, 220V);
- form factor (we recommend paying attention to both miniature models and rather large ones);
- protection against water and dust (in this case, this model will suit you);
- longitudinal or transverse arrangement of the engine.
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What else to pay attention to?
As for the type of power supply - DC or AC, it’s better to start with the shelf format. If you are working on a mobile structure that requires constant movement, DC actuators are the best choice. You will have to recharge them from time to time, however, which imposes certain functionality restrictions.
Most of the motorized shelves are still statically attached to the wall, so making them accessible to a power outlet isn't too difficult. This means that you can freely use AC-powered actuators for them, too.
In addition, there is a limit on the maximum stroke length for each actuator. Your shelf structure height should be in the middle of the range of a specific drive. It is not necessary to select a drive according to its maximum characteristics - there will be no power reserve and resource. If you want your drive to serve long and properly, you should choose the one that matches the overall scale of the construction at work.
Also, when choosing a linear drive, the weight of lift up shelf’s possible contents in addition to its pure weight. The optimal solution is the choice of an automation element (i.e., a linear drive) with a carrying capacity 5-10 times the original weight of the shelf.
Lastly, there’s the intensity of performance as another important characteristic. This parameter is important if you are choosing automation for a private house or for industrial use. An intensity of 30% is suitable for a private house while a 50% intensity is better for regular use in some manufacturing.
The principal difference here is that if the cycle of the motorized shelf performance is about 30 seconds, then the automation element will have to "rest" for about 1.5 minutes in the case of 30% intensity after each cycle. Accordingly, there can be no more than 40 movements per hour. For a private house, this figure is more than sufficient.
In the case of industrial use of the shelf lift mechanism, it is better to select a drive with a 50% intensity in order to shorten the "rest" period and thus increase the productivity of the shelves to 60 units per hour.
As you can see, motorized shelf lifts based on linear actuators can be used everywhere to save free space in rooms - both in residential and industrial indoor environments.
If you are interested in creating an automatic shelf lift for yourself, we recommend visiting our online store. It offers the broadest range of fully customizable, high-quality linear actuators in a variety of moisture and dust resistance levels, form factors, and power ratings. This means that you will definitely find what you need!