13/11/2012 - 04:00 am

Reinventing Three Point Suspension

A new system of self-loading transporters is emerging that will dramatically improve how efficiently aircraft manufacturers and similar heavy product assembly operations build their products. Technology licensor Intelliport Corporation announces the new TriLifter Transporter that is ideal for any manufacturing plant that requires the regular movement of large, heavy and often delicate in-process loads in highly congested spaces and between buildings. It is also designed for operations where moving heavy scaffolding and tooling can be highly problematic.

“The new, lightweight self-loading transporter design uses a three-point 'tricycle' configuration to provide superior movement of five to 30 tons on any type of surface conditions. This will revolutionize operations across a wide range of industries,” explains Mel Terry, the TriLifter inventor.

The tricycle, part of everyone’s childhood but never much thought of beyond the early years, is the simplest possible form of suspension. The new TriLifter Transporter recaptures the unique tricycle capability by using a power driven steerable front axle and two power driven wheels on a fixed rear axle. All three points are vertical lifting cylinders attached to a platform to accommodate self-loading so the TriLifter can be driven under any stand supported load and then lift and carry it anywhere.

Intelliport Corporation’s technology licensee, Wheelift Systems, part of the Doerfer Companies located in Waverly, IA, is developing a new line of smaller precision travel transporters. To assist with these innovations, Intelliport has applied for a vertical lift three-point tricycle configuration patent that will dramatically improve how self-loading, heavy capacity transporters can lift and carry large structures. The TriLifter offers superior suspension in terms of natural load contact and is capable of self-loading using a fluid lifting suspension at each of the three points. The smallest TriLifter will have a load carrying capacity of up to 15,000 pounds, be wirelessly controlled, and have positioning accuracies of less than 1/32 of an inch.

In the TriLifter configuration, all cylinders will raise and lower in unison, while the base of the load will remain parallel to the operating surface. Because of the heavy loads involved, all wheels are driven. The TriLifter is coupled with a computerized controller that calculates the exact rotation needed on each of the fixed rear wheels to enable tracking of where the steerable front axle is taking them.

An embedded controller (EC) will control each of the wheel drive motors. The EC includes logic to linearly and rotationally control the tricycle lifting suspension; and a steering calculator to perform steering algorithm calculations for the steerable front axle assembly and control the speed and direction of each of the fixed rear axle driven wheels. The controller provides command signals to the rear wheel to match with the angularity of the steering axle, along with controlling the lift and carry functionality. In addition with this sophistication is the ability to have two transporters drive under a load and operate in tandem as a single unit by a single operator.

Industry veteran Terry and Wheelift Systems have already established their expertise in effectively transporting extremely heavy loads (50 to 400 tons) in shipyards, mining, nuclear and other heavy manufacturing industries. However, the sophisticated systems that offer safe and precise movement of extremely heavy loads have been out of reach of mainstream industry. These new Wheelift transporters will usher in a new era of effortless precision movement of heavy products and tooling at a reduced price point.

“The smaller, agile TriLifter is yet another one of Wheelift’s new generation of smaller transporters that address the reduced cost threshold while also providing capabilities that do not exist with conventional methods,” explains Terry.

Overcoming existing industry challenges

“Precision movement” is not a term associated with any conventional handling means. Today, industrial facilities typically use overhead cranes and various forms of wheeled equipment to move and position heavy loads. Disadvantages are the lack of effortless maneuverability; and for cranes, the inability to move from one bay to another.

In the case of the aircraft industry, big tooling structures are typically resting on large caster wheels. The advantages of the new TriLifter and other smaller range Wheelift transporters is that with virtually no modification to the structures, these low profile transporters can drive into the available space under these heavy tooling platforms, lift to engage their frames, and then lift the entire structure’s caster wheels clear of the floor in order to effortlessly move the platforms anywhere in the plant and precisely reposition within fractions of an inch. The process typically consists of two transporters sharing the load and operating as a single unit.

The new design significantly expands what manufacturing plants that deal with heavy product assembly operations can do in less time and with infinitely more maneuverability. Industries that value sophisticated computerized control and equipment that can securely and efficiently get the job done will be able to take advantage of engineering ingenuity to save time and expenses, while introducing precision travel and positioning capabilities.

About the new tricycle transporter

Designed by Intelliport Corporation for the Wheelift Systems Group, the self-loading tricycle suspension transporter is designed to drive the cost down, while bringing new efficiencies to heavy manufacturing operations. For more information contact Mel Terry at mel.terry@doerfer.com.

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