Exploring sensor technology in special purpose and industrial vehicles

A special purpose construction vehicle

Special purpose vehicles are designed for specific tasks like military operations and emergency response, while industrial vehicles, such as forklifts and container handlers, are mainly used in settings like warehouses and manufacturing plants. These vehicles rely on advanced sensing and switching technology to improve functionality, safety, and efficiency.

Key sensors and switches

Some of the key sensors and switches used in these vehicles and their applications across different industries include:

  1. Temperature sensors to monitor and control temperature levels, preventing overheating, optimising fuel efficiency, and ensuring safe operation in various conditions. By providing real-time temperature data, these sensors contribute to the reliability, performance, and longevity of vehicles in demanding environments.
  2. Linear and rotary position sensors, along with encoders, oversee the movement of components, ensuring safety and operational efficiency. They are applied in tasks such as lift and fork positioning, boom and crane alignment, steering control, and speed regulation.
  3. Pressure sensors are employed to supervise and manage pressure levels across various systems and components, including brake systems, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, engine cylinders, and engine intake manifold pressure.
  4. Inclination sensors monitor and maintain the level positions of the vehicle to ensure safe operation and precise positioning of equipment. They also act as a safety measure to alert drivers when operating at unsafe angles, for example, during sharp turns or on steep slopes, to avoid tip over scenarios.
  5. Load cells gauge and monitor the weight or force exerted on components or systems to maintain vehicles within safe operating limits, provide insights into load distribution, and measure tension or compression forces on cables.
  6. Footswitches offer hands-free operation of specific vehicle functions or systems, such as initiating forward or reverse motion and activating hydraulic functions, as well as emergency stop controls.
  7. CANbus keypads provide operators with user-friendly control over diverse vehicle operations and systems, enabling easy access to functions, system monitoring, and diagnostics.

Example applications and solutions developed by Variohm Group

Eurosensor designed and manufactured pressure sensors for hydraulic system pressure control on telescopic loaders; linear position sensors to provide suspension ride height position feedback on dump trucks; inclination sensors to maintain the level of lifting equipment mounted on cranes; linear potentiometers to give position feedback on forklift fork position on forklift trucks; cable transducers to provide outrigger position feedback on mobile lifts on trucks.

CANbus keypads supplied by Limitor to provide operations control for drivers of road sweeping machines; CANbus keypads for control of the main functions on fire trucks.

Herga footswitches for activation of functions on road sweeping machines; footswitches for push-to-talk operation on emergency vehicles; pressure switches for liquid level alerts on street cleaning machines.

Limit switches from CPI for end position control of doors and equipment on emergency vehicles; limit switches for dump body position feedback on dump trucks; limit switches for compartment door light control feedback on fire trucks.

Positek linear in-cylinder inductive position sensors for crusher cone head position feedback to determine stone chip size on stone crushing machines; ATEX approved linear position sensors to detect suspension ride height on mining dump trucks; inductive linear sensors for fifth-wheel position on yard terminal shunt trucks.

Sensors and switches are essential components in special purpose and industrial vehicles, contributing to workplace safety, efficiency, functionality, and maintenance with precision and reliability. Their proper selection, installation, and integration are crucial to ensuring the vehicle can perform its specialised tasks reliably and effectively.