Practical Installation Tips That Will Maximize the Lifespan of Your Vehicle Mount Computers

Inappropriately installed vehicle mount terminals (VMTs) stand the risk of impaired usability and will in worst case suffer early product failure. By learning from the following tips before deployment, you can avoid the biggest pitfalls and thus maximize the return of investment for your equipment.

Even though rugged computers are built to withstand both vibration and shock, which are by far the most stringent compliance requirements and indispensable in the transportation sector, there is still a risk of damages when the equipment is installed in forklifts or other vehicles, as the engine, tires, gears and motor simultaneously create different frequencies and amplitudes of vibration, also referred to as random vibration. The vibrations and shock levels generated by a warehouse truck depend on truck type, driving speed, floor condition and the type of wheels used; this means that the operating conditions that affect the reliability of computers installed in warehousing vehicles will always be unique, and could even vary within the same site. Appropriate installation can eliminate the effects of excessive shock and vibration in extreme environments and is the key to avoid computer failure.

Lower placement reduces shock and improves user ergonomics

As users drive over debris, stones or cracks in the floor, the truck slightly tilts sideways. The higher up on the forklift or vehicle the computer is placed, the higher the shock level from the sideway tilting gets. This means that in reach stackers, order pickers and other tall trucks where the VMTs are mounted hanging from the roof, there is a higher risk of inducing severe shock levels to the VMTs, leading to effects such as poor screen readability and fatigue-related damages and consequently to poor usability and, in some cases, early product failure. Thus, mounting the unit as low as possible in the driver’s cabin minimizes the level of induced shock, thereby increasing reliability.

Additionally, mounting the VMT at a lower point, for instance at the user’s waist height instead of over his head, is advantageous also from an ergonomic point of view – shorter reaching distance provides a comfortable and safe user environment, hence improving the user experience.

Rigid mounts increase steadiness

Where a unit is placed in the vehicle is not the only thing that affects its exposure to shock; what it is mounted to also has significant consequences. Using metal plates and long beams can cause unwanted amplification. To avoid this, the computers should be mounted on the sturdiest part of the vehicle and with appropriate mounting equipment. Rigid and stiff mounts help to reduce the risk of resonance in the installation which is usually the cause of costly vibration-related fatigue failures of parts and components.

Ensuring that the mounting equipment used is tightly installed, and that the parts are stiff and as short as possible, will further reduce the risk of vibration and shock amplification.

Vibration and shock dampers improve user experience

The use of custom-designed vibration and shock dampers together with the VMTs can reduce and in less severe cases eliminate most of the user-experienced effects from vibration, such as poor screen readability. However, dampers come in many forms and materials and it is critical to use a type that suits your specific environment, otherwise the dampers will not have the intended effect and can in the worst case even amplify the vibration.

First of all, for the dampers to be effective they shouldn’t have a resonance frequency that matches any of the vibrational frequencies created by the installation itself. This can be controlled by measuring the vibrational frequencies generated in the vehicle and decide on which dampers to use based on this information.

Second, it is important that the dampers are appropriately dimensioned and are made of a suitable material for the vibration isolation to be successful. The materials used for dampers come with different characteristics. A typical material used in passive vibration damping is natural or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is usually preferable in environments where the temperature varies as it has a good damping coefficient in both low and elevated temperatures. Synthetic rubber compounds, such as silicone rubber, are often preferable when the vehicle is being exposed to direct sunlight as they provide better resistance to UV compared to natural rubber. However, synthetic rubber has the downside of low fatigue resistance and is in most cases a more expensive option than natural rubber. The geometrical dimensions of the dampers determine how well they absorb the shock and vibration energy, therefore the diameter and length need to be adjusted to suit the specific use case.

Air-filled tires with large diameters create less vibration and shock

The material and the diameter of the wheels used for the designated vehicle directly impacts the vibration and shock levels created by each wheel. Air-filled tires naturally have a higher damping factor as compared to solid plastic wheels which transmit almost all the vibrations and shocks to the truck and further to the VMTs. When it comes to the wheel diameter, a smaller diameter translates to a larger vertical displacement as the truck drives over cracks in the floor, a cause for increased shock levels. Consequently, considering the type of wheels used on the warehousing vehicles will also impact the durability of the installed VMTs. Selecting air-filled tires over solid plastic wheels and going for the biggest suitable diameter will have a positive impact on the lifespan of the computer. In unavoidable circumstances where trucks with solid plastic wheels are in use, it is even more important to follow the above listed installation tips to keep vibration and shock to a minimum.

Other factors impacting the lifespan of VMTs in logistic operation

Overall, a well-maintained warehouse floor, clear of debris and obstacles is beneficial not only to the equipment but also to the health of the drivers who often complain of joint pain in the knees as a result of excessive shock – especially in the case of trucks with solid plastic wheels where drivers stand throughout their work-shift.

Last but not least, let’s not forget that the impact force generated by the truck as it’s driven over cracks and obstacles is directly proportional to the driving speed. Therefore, driving at the recommended speed not only contributes to a safer work environment but also improved usability and longer-lasting equipment.

 

Author: Mahmud Nurein, Product Developer, JLT Mobile Computers

HANNIBAL TUBERACK SYSTEM SELECTED BY STANLEY BLACK & DECKER FOR NEW MILLION SQUARE-FOOT FONTANA, CA. FACILITY

Hannibal Industries, Inc., a world-leading manufacturer of steel pallet racks for the material handling industry, today announced its patented TubeRack system has been successfully installed in Stanley Black & Decker’s new one-million-square-foot facility in Fontana, Calif.
Stanley Black & Decker, a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security and engineered fastening systems,  is experiencing heavy growth and needed a racking system that was flexible and both seismically and load-bearing strong for its new warehouse and distribution center which is double the size of its former facility in Rialto, Calif.
“Because of the weight differences among its many hand and power tool products, we designed a racking system that can efficiently and safely accommodate all pallet loads – heavy or light – and can withstand any possible seismic movement,” said Brent Baltin, owner of Baltin Rack, one of Hannibal’s regional distributors.
“Our experience with the Hannibal’s patented TubeRack system has shown that it is the only racking solution that will work in the high seismic areas, such as those found in Southern California,” Baltin added.
The massive Stanley Black & Decker installation involves 1,900 pallet bays.  Each bay has six 60-inch high-load levels for a total pallet position count of 14 positions per bay.   The design load per level is 5,000 pounds with a 30,000-pound capacity per bay.
About Hannibal Industries, Inc.
Hannibal Industries, Inc., headquartered in the Los Angeles metro area, is a pallet rack and steel tube manufacturer with a diverse product line that enables the company to offer material handling products to the most massive operations in the world.  This employee-owned company is the largest U.S. manufacturer of steel pallet rack west of the Mississippi River.
The company’s industry-leading product offering includes TubeRack, Shelving, Structural Pallet Rack, Roll-Formed Selective Pallet Rack, Hybrid Systems, Cantilever Systems, Pushback Systems, Pallet Flow Systems, Case Flow Systems and Drive-In Systems. Engineering and design services offered by the company include system design, seismic engineering, permit administration, in-house installation and custom fabrication.  A true innovator, Hannibal Industries was awarded a patent in 2006 for a pallet rack system adjustable safety restraint, and a patent for its TubeRack in 2015.  For additional information, visit www.hannibalrack.com.

OTTO Motors Introduces API Integration Solution, Enabling Connected Industrial Automation for Manufacturers

(Kitchener, ON, Canada – March 9, 2018) OTTO Motors is proud to officially release the OTTO Industrial API, solving one of the major hurdles in manufacturing today:  achieving a fully connected and optimized smart factory. The Industrial API addresses the challenge of machine-to-machine communication and full industrial automation by simplifying the process of connecting equipment and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to OTTO.

“OTTO Motors is really setting the bar high for system accessibility and ease of integration in their market. This new API allows Ignition to seamlessly access the data as OPC tags and integrate them with our built-in components and scripting,” said Don Pearson, Chief Strategy Officer, Inductive Automation. “We are excited to see how this API can remove connectivity barriers that have prevented some people from utilizing self-driving vehicles in the past.”

As a collaborating company with Inductive Automation, OTTO Motors integrated Ignition software as part of the Industrial API architecture. Ignition is a software platform with a feature set that includes the translation of different protocols to the ones needed to speak to PLCs within manufacturing environments; therefore, contributing to a closed loop automation system.

“The industry has long struggled with the challenge of connecting industrial machines built by different companies,” explains Simon Drexler, Director of Product, OTTO Motors. “Pieces of equipment from the same company generally communicate easily with each other but creating a connection that enables data to be exchanged across products from different vendors can be complicated, costly, and time-consuming – and sometimes impossible. This problem is, at best, a barrier to attaining the benefits of a smart factory that many companies aspire to. At worst, it’s a severe limitation on productivity.”

Available now, the OTTO Industrial API connects self-driving vehicles to existing automation systems and processes, providing faster integration of OTTO with robust and standardized integrations with industry-standard software and protocols. The industry-leading Ignition server software creates total system integration for the plant floor. Together, Inductive Automation and OTTO Motors are driving manufacturers towards greater efficiencies and increased productivity through higher quality and long-term reliability.

“This is a game-changing solution for the manufacturing industry,” said Matthew Rendall, CEO, OTTO Motors. “It has been our mission since day one to improve productivity and efficiency for our customers, and with the OTTO Industrial API, manufacturers can quickly, painlessly and more cost-effectively scale their business.”

OTTO™ Motors designs, manufactures and operates self-driving vehicles to automate material movement inside busy factories and warehouses. Using self-driving technology much like the Google Car, the easy-to-use OTTO vehicles move inventory in a safe and flexible manner throughout the indoor supply chain. Customers include Fortune 100 brands like General Electric, John Deere, and Toyota. For more information, visit www.ottomotors.com.

Kalmar introduces electric medium-range forklift

Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has launched a new range of fully electric forklift trucks in the 9-18 ton range. Powered by emissions-free electric technology, the new machines will support customers in their efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their operations and make Kalmar the first leading manufacturer to offer electric forklifts in this capacity range.

Kalmar electric forklift trucks offer the best of both worlds: the performance of a powerful diesel truck but without the accompanying air emissions, noise and vibration. The operating cost of the new 9-18 ton range is much lower than that of comparable diesel machines, and the payback time can be as short as two years.

The forklifts have sufficient battery capacity to operate for a full eight-hour shift with lead-acid batteries and are future-proofed to operate with new lithium-ion battery technology.

Operators can work in peace and comfort inside the ergonomic EGO cabin, which provides maximum visibility and features a driving seat that can be turned 180 degrees to ensure safe operation when handling heavy or bulky loads. The cabin setup can be fine-tuned for optimal operator position, while the highly responsive hydraulic system improves precision and the overall driving experience.

“At Kalmar, we aim for zero emissions in our offering development across the board,” stated Peter Ivarsson, Director, Forklift Trucks at Kalmar. “We’re proud to be the first leading manufacturer to offer a full range of electric forklift trucks with this level of lifting capacity. Our electric machines offer savings in terms of faster and simpler maintenance, making them a winning concept in the long run. By using an electric forklift instead of a comparable diesel-powered machine, customers can achieve significant reductions in their operating costs. Customers who require trucks with higher lifting capacities can now start reducing their emissions and energy costs at the same time without compromising their operational performance.”