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Linear motion solutions from Parker-Origa have been used by Smart Manufacturing on a highly automated plant for processing donated blood at the NHS Blood and Transplant Centre in Filton, near Bristol.

Crucial requirements for the plant are high availability and total reliability.

Before blood from donations can be delivered to the hospitals it has to undergo several stages of processing.

One of these involves leaving the bags of blood suspended from a bar for several hours under controlled conditions as an aid to filtration.

Once this stage of the process is complete, the bags are ready for sealing, which is carried out manually.

To enable the work to be carried out at a convenient height for the operators, the bars from which the blood bags are suspended, which weigh around 15 kg when fully loaded, must be raised by around 1.5m.

The centre tasked design engineers from Smart Manufacturing with devising a system that would perform this lifting function.

The brief included a need for reliably for long periods even with a minimum of maintenance, plus strict requirements for hygiene.

The design team decided to base its solution on the OSP-E BHD series of electric linear drives from Parker-Origa.

Kevin Bloomfield, Smart Manufacturing’s design engineer for the project, said: ‘The products in the range feature robust construction and are clearly designed to offer a long working life without the need for regular maintenance.

‘Also, they made it easy for us to meet the end-user’s requirements for hygiene, as they are virtually free from dirt traps,’ he added.

BHD high-capacity linear actuation systems feature a toothed-belt drive, and have integrated guides to optimise load-carrying capacity.

The systems are available with either re-circulating ball-bearing guides or roller guides, the former being selected for this application.

Further benefits of the BHD systems are said to be their compact design, which simplifies installation even in where space is limited, and the availability of a range of connection elements, accessories and mountings.

Parker-Origa optionally offers BHD linear drive systems complete with motors and control systems but in this instance, Smart Manufacturing decided to use its own motor and controls so as to maintain uniformity with the rest of the installation.

Bloomfield said: ‘The BHD drive system proved easy to install and set up and it operated exactly as we wanted from the outset.

‘The lift system for blood bags has now been in use for almost a year, and it has proved to be completely reliable.’

Parker-Origa, a division of Parker Hannifin, is a leader in the innovative design and manufacture of pneumatic and electric actuation and control solutions for industrial automation.

The Origa System Plus range of rodless pneumatic cylinders provides a modular approach to linear automation with the easy integration of guides, controls, position sensing equipment and other accessories. An extensive range of electric linear drives capitalises on this system modularity and extends the scope of application with respect to loads, speeds, precision, positional accuracy and path control.

With annual sales exceeding 12USD billion, Parker Hannifin is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. The company employs approximately 62,000 people in 48 countries around the world. Parker has increased its annual dividends paid to shareholders for 52 consecutive years, among the top five longest-running dividend-increase records in the S&P 500 index.

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