Finding components that perfectly suit the needs of an application can often be frustrating. Design engineers will often have to compromise their original design to some degree in order to match the components that are available. However, when a manufacturer of ramps for wheelchair accessible vehicles needed to find a linear actuator with a small footprint that could manually retract if required, Warner Linear was able to design a new product range that perfectly met all of its needs.
A leading manufacturer of ramps for wheelchair accessible vehicles was looking for a replacement linear actuator product to fold and unfold its ramps. Due to the restricted space available it was not possible to use a parallel motor design; rather, an inline design had to be used. The previous actuator specified by the manufacturer required tremendous force to manually retract in the event of a power failure. The OEM was looking to improve the design of the ramp so needed to source a component better suited to the application.
Warner Linear, part of Altra Industrial Motion, was approached to see if its engineers could recommend a solution that would fit within the restricted footprint whilst offering the performance criteria demanded. At the time there were no products within Warner’s range that could meet all of the design requirements. However, rather than give up, Warner worked closely with the customer to design the I-Track actuator – a unique inline design with a release clutch and extremely narrow footprint.
Eric Volant, Product & Business development Manager for Warner Linear, comments: “We pride ourselves on offering our customers flexibility and a customised service. When we were first asked to provide a solution for this application it was clear to us that we would be able to design a product that would be unique to the market and meet the specific performance requirements for the customer. We worked closely with them throughout the design stages and developed the I-Track, which requires less than 3kg of force to retract when the motor is disengaged.”
The I-Track is able to release the actuator’s rod when the power is off, meaning that in the event of an unexpected power failure, the ramp can be manually retracted quickly and with minimal effort. In addition, it features an overload protection of the motor in the event that the ramp becomes jammed; improving the reliability and lifespan of the product.
Prior to its launch the I-Track underwent a standard validation testing period to ensure that it met the exacting quality standards demanded of all Warner Linear products. This included a 51 day / 350,000 cycle combined environmental chamber test as well as a series of tests to ensure that the actuator would survive positioned on the underside of a van (Salt spray test (ASTM B117-03), Immersion, IP69K (IEC60529), 300 Bar spray test, Vibration test (MIL-STD-202G, method 204D), Temperature and humidity test as well as Chemical Resistance (ASTM D3912)).
The I-Track is available to purchase from Warner Linear and is perfectly suited for all applications where space is limited and reliability is a necessity. As standard it has a load capacity of 90kg, superior sealing and components with enhanced corrosion resistance.