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12/5/2017 | New Thomson Video Illustrates Smart Linear Actuator Benefits for Automation Applications

5.12.2017, Kristianstad, SWEDEN – Thomson Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer of mechanical motion control solutions, has released an educational video that summarises the benefits of smart actuators, which feature integrated electronics. The five-minute video explores how smart electromechanical actuators are meeting demands for greater connectivity, application flexibility and cost efficiency, and illustrates their use in factories, on- and off-highway vehicles, and structural automation.

In discussing the benefits of smart actuators, Håkan Persson, Global Product Line Director – Thomson Actuators, states: “Smart actuators help OEM design engineers build smarter machines with smarter components. Their onboard electronics perform traditionally external control functions such as switching, position feedback, system diagnostics and communications. Embedding these into the actuator housing reduces component cost, installation cost and design labor that might otherwise be needed. This, coupled with concurrent advances in power density and environmental protection, allows design engineers to electrify more axes of motion than previously thought possible, putting actuators on the frontlines of Industry 4.0.”

The new Thomson Smart Actuation video is available on the official Thomson YouTube channel


Smart actuation benefits

The video details the following benefits of the Electrak® Modular Control System (EMCS), which is built into every Electrak HD actuator, and the features that make them possible:

  • Option to receive either absolute or incremental position feedback from embedded potentiometer or encoders
  • End-of-stroke indication, which signals when the actuator has reached either end of the stroke
  • Ability to control the actuator from the outside with lower level power switching through embedded H-bridge switching functionality
  • High position accuracy and coasting control through dynamic braking
  • Network communications for condition monitoring, diagnostics and other applications through J1939 CAN bus connectivity
  • Sharing of the load among up to four actuators via advanced synchronisation functionality
  • Improved performance across actuator lifecycle through real-time monitoring of voltage and temperature and ability to shut down the actuator on overload.

Applications for smart actuators

In addition to describing the basics of smart actuation, the video demonstrates how such benefits are achieved within the following application areas:

  • Factory automation, where lift trucks, conveyor systems and automated guided vehicles benefit from smart features such as controllability and connectivity
  • On- and off-highway vehicles, where users in markets such as agriculture, construction, and marine and public transportation can benefit from improved efficiency and simplified wiring
  • Structural automation, such as louver control, stair lifts and medical mobility devices, where users enjoy features such as increased control and built-in safety functionality.

Technology options

Thomson delivers smart actuation through the Electrak HD, Electrak Throttle and WhisperTrak™ product families, which all have high ingress protection (IP) ratings, making them suitable for operation in demanding environments.



Integrating electronics into mechanical actuators improves controllability, design flexibility, ease of installation and maintenance. It also moves actuators into the world of Industry 4.0 by making it much easier to connect to other machines.


Thomson strives to continually innovate and lead the marketplace in linear motion solutions and share their application engineering and technical expertise. To that end, Thomson has authored a wide range of educational videos, webinars and technical white papers available now at to inform and guide design engineers, explain technology alternatives and simplify the linear motion component selection process.

To view the full video, please visit: For more information about Thomson’s range of smart linear actuators, please visit:

About Thomson Industries, Inc.

With more than 70 years of motion control innovation and quality, Thomson is the industry’s premier producer of Linear Ball Bushing® Bearings and Profile Rail Bearings, 60 Case® Shafting, Ground and Rolled Ball Screws, Linear Actuators, Gearheads, Clutches, Brakes, Linear Systems and related accessories. Thomson invented the Linear Ball Bushing Bearing in 1945 and has set the standard ever since with an unsurpassed set of mechanical motion control solutions serving global commercial and aerospace and defence markets. Thomson has facilities in North America, Europe and Asia with more than 2000 distributor locations around the world.

Thomson Industries, Inc., 203A West Rock Road, Radford, VA 24141; 1-540-633-3549; 1-540-633-0294 (fax);;

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