John Deere
John Deere tractor

Design Insights: Automation Technology in Farming; Choosing Between Steppers and Servos

March 25, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

Out Standing in Their Field

When we discuss high-tech industries, agriculture probably isn’t top of mind. But as a new Machine Design article points out, farmers have long been at the forefront of technology, and with the emergence of such tools as autonomous driving, they can be more productive.

Jesse Haecker, business manager for planting, spraying and nutrient application at John Deere, notes that automation is as much a part of the modern farmer’s equipment as plows and seeders.

“Farmers have always been at the forefront of solving problems with hard work and innovation,” he writes. “When paired with advanced technology like sensors, computer vision and robotics, farmers have the tools necessary to maintain their business and grow quality food for the world.”

Stepper vs. Servo?

Another Machine Design article this week discusses the considerations involved in choosing between servo motors or stepper motors. It’s summed up in a few bullet points:

  • If low cost is needed, a stepper is a good choice.
  • If loads are unpredictable and create extra torque requirements, a servo is a good choice.
  • If complete reliability even with power loss is needed, a servo should be chosen.
  • If it’s a low-speed or low-torque application, a stepper should be used.

The article concludes, “However, if there is no clear choice on motor type because features of both steppers and servos are needed, perhaps a stepper with servo control is a good option.”

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