Data Added To Induction Monorail

June 28, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Rapistan Material Handling Automation Division announced last week that it has mated a data stream to its inductive monorail system.

According to Ken Ruehrdanz, marketing manager for the Rapistan Division of Siemens Dematic, development work on the data-fed Inductive Electrified Monorail System has taken about a year.

Such a system consists of the power-data line in the monorail and pickups on the conveyor’s vehicles.

The drive power passes to the vehicles as induced current when the pickups pass through the magnetic field created by a local converter.

The data is modulated into the carrier frequency and demodulated by the vehicle control. Radio modules can be used for additional data communication.

Ruehrdanz told the Business Journal that the firm developed the system in tandem with Siemens’ technical people overseas. He said the Rapistan division will handle fabrication and marketing for the non-contact power and data transmission conveyor system in the United States.

Ruehrdanz explained that induction-driven monorails have been in use as conveyors more than 15 years. He said they can carry items weighing as much as 3,000 pounds up and down gradients and around turns. Up to this point, he said, the monorail never has found particularly widespread use in manufacturing or logistics conveyors.

But what he believes will make the system much more appealing now, he said, is the integration of the data stream — and, with it, movement commands — in the device’s power lines, plus the fact that induction-driven monorails are inherently more reliable and cleaner than other conveyor systems.

The reliability lies in the fact that there are no direct-contact electrical points to corrode or burn out. In ordinary systems, this is a factor requiring frequent change-outs lest a 24-7 conveyor start developing hiccups.

The cleanliness angle, he said, is that in an induction electrical system, electrical motors are isolated from the monorail. Thus there are no electrical motors in the conveyor’s environs generating dust through wear on those motors’ carbon brushes.

Ruehrdanz believes this makes an induction conveyor an ideal device to use in the food and beverage industries as well as in clean-room electronics and chip fabrication, where even minuscule dust particles are a major quality control issue.

Rapistan, a division of Siemens Dematic AG, also notes than an induction-drive monorail has no wearing parts, arguing that this significantly reduces maintenance and increases uptime.

The firm says the system also can function in difficult environmental conditions.

Siemens Dematic claims to be the world’s leading supplier of logistics and factory automation equipment.

As a systems integrator, Siemens Dematic supplies a wide range of products and services, from individual products and systems to complete turnkey facilities as a general contractor.

Siemens Dematic consists of three divisions: Material Handling Automation, Postal Automation and Electronics Assembly Systems.

The company has about 11,500 employees worldwide and a business volume of around $3.2 billion.

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