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Ventura Systems compares electric and pneumatic doors

Electric propulsions have become an integral part of public transport, slowly becoming the new standard for buses and coaches around the world. But what is the leading technology when it comes to door systems?

Pneumatic drive systems have served the bus market for many years, with electric drive systems becoming more commonly used in recent times. This technology was introduced by the rail industry on automatic door systems and has almost completely eliminated pneumatic systems from their markets. Ventura Systems says knowing the difference between drive systems is key to choosing the right technology.

It starts with the door system, which has three main parts: a mechanism, the door leaf set and the mounting kit. The door mechanism is what can be based on a pneumatic or electric drive system, with both systems opening and closing at similar speeds.

Instead, a pneumatic drive system supplies energy through cylinders of compressed air that is filtered by a system in the vehicle, while an electric drive system supplies energy through electric actuators that convert the rotational force of an electric rotary motor into a linear movement through the mechanism, meaning there’s no compressed air needed for door movement.

This immediate breakdown gives rise to an early difference between the two systems – an electric actuator requires a dedicated control device in the form of a door control unit, while a pneumatic drive system isn’t mandated to have one, with the general control on the vehicle’s on-board computer enough to suffice.

Both systems require compressed air for pneumatic emergency systems to push the door leaves open when they are closed unless a non-pneumatic emergency activation is installed. However, an electric drive system requires a smaller compressor and becomes more energy efficient as there is hardly any air pressure loss.

Ventura Systems says another advantage of electric drive systems is that they are less affected by the effects of low or high temperatures and air pollution on the compressed air due to the limited volume of compressed air involved.

When it comes to the door control unit, an electric drive system has benefits over pneumatic types when it comes to the mandatory dedicated door control unit. A pneumatic drive system is ‘non-feedback’ controlled, while an electric drive system involves the constant control of the door’s motion, meaning it can be changed in unpredictable situations.

The door control unit also works in perfect harmony with hardware safety features like a sensitive edge. Electric drive systems can provide higher safety levels with lower efforts and costs, as they would be necessary for pneumatic door systems.

When it comes to maintenance and field support, Ventura Systems says both pneumatic and electric drive systems are reliable. If anything, pneumatic drive systems require more maintenance because electric drive systems have lower operating forces, while pneumatic drive systems are more costly because they need to be adjusted over time.

The newer technology on electric drive systems means it’s more suitable for analytic purposes for maintenance compared to pneumatic systems. However, this newer technology can also result in extra training for maintenance employees familiar with pneumatic systems.

Ventura Systems says it sees electrical drive systems as the future standard for the market, meaning any futureproofing should keep this technology in mind as it could become the basis for door systems on vehicles in the upcoming decades.

Ventura Systems’ door products are designed to operate with a pneumatic or electric drive system that can be easily changed without structural modifications required, as the changes are all within the mechanism. Ventura says this makes the transition from pneumatic to electric very easy, even for retrofits.

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