A technology's reach expands, both figuratively and literally

Modularity allows for a flexible sensor solution for tough cylinder applications on long booms.

An exploded assembly view of Rota's modular tranducer for long stroke applications.
An exploded assembly view of Rota's modular tranducer for long stroke applications.

"There's a quote I like to tell everybody, 'I wish I had one sensor for every application.' But that's not the case. Every application is different, requiring a different sensor, different features and benefits," says Mark Hoffman, VP Sales & Marketing, Rota Engineering Ltd. (company information, 10276136) Manchester, UK. Rota has introduced a new external modular transducer geared toward tough cylinder applications such as double-ended cylinders that can't have internal technology put inside, or for extremely long stroke cylinders that would either cost too much to gun drill, or are problematic to build, ship, store and install.

Mobile cranes tend to have very long cylinder lengths for reaching out to lift or place materials. Currently they use cable reels or string pots but run in to several challenges. Cable reels and string pots can stretch after prolonged use requiring recalibration, elements such as wind, trees and ice can impede proper operation and accurate readings.

"We've had a lot of opportunities working with mobile cranes, so they may already be using our external technology on their outriggers. Now they're wondering if the same technology can be applied to the boom cylinders," Hoffman says. Through these discussions, it was determined that the sensor becomes too long and the challenges of transport and storage arise, so Rota developed a modular system so OEMs could order it in sections to fit their individual requirements. The modular sensor can be built in 1.5-, 3-, 7- or 10-foot sections which are easily shipped and stored at a manufacturer's facility. It also helps with ease of installation onto a boom cylinder making it a much more viable solution using proven sensor technology.

Rota is currently working with a prominent construction and mining equipment manufacturer on a 58-foot boom application for its open pit drill rig. "You can connect the 7-foot sections together, but you have to have more than just an electrical connection but a strong mechanical connection, as well," says Hoffman. Rota's design engineers subsequently came up with a connector design that is both a mechanical and electrical connection.

"Right now, the OEM is using our sensors at the top and bottom of the drill rig. That's where they need the most performance. But they've expressed interest in getting rid of their cable reel altogether, so we've been working with them on this modular transducer design," Hoffman says.

Rota displayed the technology at its IFPE booth 81907 in the South Hall. "The technology is already available on high volume agricultural equipment and mobile crane outriggers. This is expanding that technology's reach (figuratively and literally) to the longer boom stroke lengths," say Hoffman.

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