Following successful testing of a prototype installation, JD Neuhaus has received its first major order for air powered travel units in a new application. The drives were designed, of course, for use with bridge cranes and hoists. But the UK operation of JDN has found a market for them driving wheeled bogies running on floor mounted rails.

The first application is in the fabrication shop of the structural steelwork contractor Graham Wood Structural, in Lancing in the south of England. Traditionally, structural steel fabricators move large steel sections around their shops with overhead cranes. However, Graham Wood Structural found that during busy times the high demand on craneage meant that some workstations stood idle waiting for a crane to become free.

The solution was a relatively low cost, closed loop railway system running around the workshop with a series of bogies transporting the steel sections from point to point. After installing a single prototype bogie, JDN took an order for 10 more.

Andy Allen, general manager of UK-based JD Neuhaus Ltd, said of Graham Wood Structural’s application: “They are taking the warehousing principle and applying it to a fabrication situation.” Allen believes that this solution will be attractive not just to metal fabricators or paper manufacturers, but also to any potentially hazardous areas where air motor drives offer safety advantages.

Although JDN usually sells to the distribution market rather than direct to end-users, the use of its air drives for floor running bogies is – for now – a special application which it is promoting itself. Allen said that should its regular customers wish to sell into this market, he had no intention of competing with them.

The German parent company, also called JD Neuhaus, has now distributed details of the UK initiative to its worldwide network to encourage similar applications elsewhere. It has never sold travel drives for this application before, Allen said.

The travel units incorporate a flanged motor for direct drive connection. They also feature an integrated disc brake with planetary gear. JDN offers five models with various power, flange fixing and power take-off options.

The floor rail mounted bogies are equipped for a single wheel drive of 700W, operating at 6 bar air pressure. Air supply can be by cable reel, extendable cable chain or cable festoon with plug-in connection to a ring main supply.

An emergency stop is incorporated on the drive which vents the airline to prevent wheel movement. For more sophisticated operations, particularly over longer distances, radio control can be used, with explosion proof transmitters as an option. Electro-magnetic valves can also be incorporated for fully automatic computer controlled operation.

Allen said he believed the JDN drives were the only air powered drives with a fail-safe braking system. “I am not aware of any others on the market,” he said, adding that this was key to his winning the Graham Wood Structural contract.

The fully loaded weight of each bogie at Graham Wood Structural is between 7t and 10t and they each have a single drive unit with a 15t capacity. The possibility of double drives enables JDN to offer up to 30t capacity.