Selecting the right industrial joystick for your application
From harsh environmental conditions to repetitive, high-duty-cycle functions of indoor control, OEM designers face a variety of challenges.
Costing aside, choosing the right industrial joystick when such requirement is called for can be a daunting task. This is particularly true as industry today gives operators more and more functionality at their fingertips. Examples include agriculture, heavy equipment, mining, security and surveillance, robotics, etc.
First and foremost, it is important to identify the functions that the joystick is intended to control. For proportional control, identify the axes that are proportional and their signal requirements would form the basis of design. A finger-operated joystick would not be suitable for an application that is subject to consistent vibration and heavy-handed manoeuvring, and vice versa.
Duty cycle is also important and the joystick should be rated to last the expected operating life of the equipment. For outdoor applications, there should be sufficient protection against ingress of rain, dust and other elements that would otherwise lead to premature failure.
For industrial applications, space is almost always at a premium and so the length of the handle, physical size and mounting of the joystick (with/without tilting) should be considered. A joystick that offers mounting options and design flexibility can be invaluable in boosting operator efficiency.
The same efficiency also ties into ergonomic factors and operator comfort in the actual physical placement, especially when the aim of the equipment is to enable an operator walking around to observe the movement of the machine and its surroundings. For fixed placement, one should avoid making the joystick easily accessible to the doorway, as the operator could be tempted to use the handle to pull himself/herself from a sitting position. In addition, one must be wary of placement that could result in inadvertent operation, such as an elbow or hip brushing against the handle or button.
Japanese manufacturer Sakae Tsushin is a supplier of joysticks, potentiometers and turn-counting dials. In addition to off-the-shelf models, the company’s engineering team can work with customers to develop products meeting specific design requirements.
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