08 Jan Balancers – the benefits of floating tools in work cell applications
Balancers are a time and money-saving tool assist device used when performing repetitive high-cycle tasks in a work cell environment. They are a simple and cost-effective alternative to manual lifting. Balancers use either spring or pneumatic air mechanisms to create a zero-gravity movement of tools or materials. Balancers manipulate suspended objects at the pace of the operator’s movements and when used in conjunction with jibs and workstation cranes efficiently handle all types of tools and parts at high speeds.
If the load changes (ie. a different tool is used in the work cell) balancers are easily adjusted to accommodate.
Balancers enable the lift by manipulating the load (ie, the tool) instead of using a push-button remote control system to manipulate the lift, also called “float mode” lifting.
Air, Electric and Mechanical Balancers
Air (or pneumatic) balancers give a smoother manipulation of the tool but require powered air to the balancer. Air balancers operate within a capacity range of 50 to 2000 lb (22 to 909 kg). These devices are ideal for applications where hands-on load control is required for loads up to 1000 lb (455 kg).
A mechanical spring balancer is for applications where a constant weight travels a relatively short vertical distance (i.e. power tools, weld guns). These balancers cover weights up to 363 lb (165 kg) (note: balancers are usually used to move tools and hoists are primarily used to move product). A wide range of objects can be moved using air balancers with specially designed gripping devices and manipulators are available.
Sample IR (Ingersol Rand) Balancers
B (Basic) Series Balancers
Ingersoll Rand B Series Balancers are designed for integration with an end effector or handling device that includes a control package. The robust design of these pneumatic balancers gives you continuous duty cycle with minimal maintenance. “B” Series air balancers are built to enhance your productivity, with stronger and more efficient lifting.
BA (Balance Air)
With Ingersoll Rand (BA) Series (Zimmerman) pneumatic balancers the operator experiences virtually no part weight or resistance in manipulating the load. The controller on this air balancer is a self-relieving regulator that automatically adds or exhausts air to raise or lower (float) the load to the desired height where it will remain suspended. The regulator can also be adjusted to slowly raise a load up and out of an operator’s way. The primary application for the “BA” series balancer is for suspending and/or positioning constant weight items like a heavy drill.
EA (Equal Air) Balancers
EA Balancers are used for handling multiple (up to 3) loads within a 40 lb. (18.1 kg) weight range without the need to adjust the controls. When the pendant is in the LO- and UN-LOAD position, balancer air pressure is released to allow the lighter loads to be in balance. When the pendant is in the HI-LOAD position, no pressure is released, and the heaviest load can be balanced. These pneumatic balancers are ideally suited for applications where up to 3 load sizes are frequently lifted, and operator hands-on the part is required. The UN-LOAD position is also often used for handling device balancing (loaded/unloaded).
Zim Air (ZA) Series
Ingersoll Rand Zim Air (ZA) Series Balancers (Zimmerman) are the most common air balancer/control combination, designed for high-speed, precision handling of variable weight loads. Up/down movement is accomplished through the use of an ergonomically designed pendant with low-effort, colour-coded thumb levers. After positioning the load with the pendant control, the unit defaults into a balanced load condition that allows the operator up to 18 inches (457 mm) of travel to manually adjust the load for final positioning.
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