The PTS50 Pneumatic Semi-Trailer Support System
Prime Transport Solutions (PTS) have developed an all new solution to a haulage
transport operation which takes place millions of times per day, all over the world. The operation is to support semi-trailers whist disengaging and re-engaging the tractor unit, so as to enable safe storage, handling and transportation of the semi-trailer.
The requirement may sound simple, but requires safe, high integrity equipment, with
non-complex operator intervention, a reliable quick operation and all achieved within a cost effective solution. PTS have addressed all of these challenges and produced a credible alternative to current ‘landing legs’ on the market.
Road trailer ‘landing legs’, also referred to as ‘landing gear’, have been deployed in the haulage business for many years. The design and construction of ‘landing legs’ has changed little over their 100 year history, with only small incremental enhancements to performance, construction & operation. Changes to the ratcheting, gearing and linkages have been developed, but the fundamental method of physically using a crank handle has remained unaltered. The only noticeable improvement has been to replace the crank handle with an electrical drive unit.
However, Prime Transport Solutions have come up with a radical new approach to the design and operation of ‘landing legs’, which have many benefits over existing systems. A complete rethink of the conventional, physical methods of deploying ‘landing legs’ has resulted in a simplified system, which offers many advantages to hauliers, drivers, logistics companies and distribution centres.
Comprehensive research has been carried out in the development of the PTS ‘landing legs’. The obvious starting point was consultation with the actual users of ‘landing legs’, the drivers, hauliers and distribution centres. Health & Safety and Duty of Care are high on the list of employers concerns relating to physical, repetitive, machinery activities and their potential for lost time injuries. The removal of crank handle operations would be an obvious benefit to employers and employees. From this information an objective to produce a simpler, quicker, less labour intensive alternative was set.
Similar to most successful inventions, the PTS invention requires fewer moving parts, is easier to build, attach, maintain, replace & operate. Extensive research, modelling, analysis, load testing and many hours of semi-trailer testing have gone into the PTS50 Pneumatic Trailer Support System. PTS have also teamed up with an international leading pneumatics systems company, Camozzi Pneumatics Ltd, to ensure optimum performance; quality assured components and access to logic control technology. By interlocking the pneumatic operation of the landing legs to the semi-trailer suspension, rather than the brakes red line system, ensures the trailer remains safe. In addition the ‘locking pin’ arrangement ensures that the legs cannot be unlocked whilst the legs remain under load.
The PTS50 is engineered to be the strongest static support semi-trailer system on the market today. This is PTS’ ‘flagship’ product with each leg plated to handle a static load of 50 tonnes, giving a combined static load resistance of 100 tonnes per set. The mechanical integrity of the units has been substantiated by FEA (Finite Element Analysis) and CAD (Computer Aided Design) carried out by Lancaster University1. This was subsequently backed up by hand calculations carried out at Wigan & Leigh College2. The manufactured legs have also been physically tested at UK based testing house facilities. Units have been mounted and used on UK and overseas vehicles which have easily passed VOSA MOT regulated inspections.
PTS have an extensive range of landing gear solutions, based around the ‘flagship’
PTS50, which can be tailored to individual customer needs.
All the above background research and testing has resulted in comprehensive
documentation, in the form of Risk Assessments, Method Statements and Installation & Operation Manuals. PTS have also established a reliable backup Technical Support and After Sales Team to assist with all aspects of the units and their ongoing reliable, safe operation.
By addressed the ‘landing leg’ operation from a simple, practical and cost effective
approach, Prime Transport Solutions have introduced a step change moment in landing gear development.
By replacing the conventional nut, screw & bevel gear arrangement, with a twin acting pneumatic cylinder, they have reduced the overall component count for a ‘landing leg’ and also minimised the number of moving parts to just two per leg. This has generated obvious savings in assembly & installation time, maintenance and ‘down time’. So confident are PTS in their new product that they are offering a 10 year warranty on the steel works and a 12 month warranty on the pneumatic equipment, offering a good return on investment. This is not so surprising when the cylinders have been designed and tested to perform over 10,000 times (cycles) before replacement. In addition, in the very unlikely event of failure of the pneumatic supply, each leg can be physically raised or lowered and locked into position, because the moving parts of the legs weigh a maximum of 15 kgs.
A universal mounting plate has been incorporated into the legs, so that they will fit
directly onto the chassis of all standard semi-trailers. This is very important should quick replacement be required, especially when perishable or security sensitive goods are in transit. In addition, to allow maximum versatility with existing landing leg accessories, the PTS is fitted with a universal foot configuration so as to accommodate all standard rockers, wheel, sandshoe/skid or flat foot options currently available on the market.
Landing legs are only required in to be in one of two positions, up or down. PTS have
addressed this issue by ensuring their new ‘landing legs’ are lockable in only one of two positions; fully up or fully down. In addition the removal of the crank handle avoids the VOSA Fixed Penalty Fines of £60, which can be issued at roadside checks for unsecured handles.
The removal of the crank handle operation can also afforded closer parking of trailers
and access to tighter loading bays. The PTS unit only requires 2 feet (0.6 metre) between trailers as opposed to the normal working space of 4 feet (1.2 metre). The potential savings on space and hence footprint costs are enormous. For a standard 2.55 metre wide trailer this represents an increase in the region of 30% in the number of trailers which can be parked side-by-side, for a given distance. Example, 13 semi-trailers fitted with PTS50 units can fit into a space where only 10 trailers with conventional hand wound ‘landing legs’ can be parked.
The all new pneumatically operated ‘landing leg’ system, designed, developed and
constructed by PTS is a significant step forward in trailer support developments. The
system is easy to operate via two push buttons and requires no physical exertion from the operator.
The new PTS landing leg system has a huge potential for cost savings, reduced
turnaround times, parking, loading and a reduction in work related injuries.
The system also opens up new & exciting opportunities for the continuous development of trailer systems, offering in cab operation, control and interlocking to other loading and unloading procedures. This technology may well offer cost effective solutions to other road transport vehicles, such as tilting trailers and bulk liquid & powder ISO container units.
1Design Evaluation Report for a landing leg support system for commercial semi-trailers
invented by James Jemison, by Lancaster Product Development Unit, Engineering
Department, Lancaster University.
2Paul Wightman, Project Manager for Logistics College North West and Lecturer Wigan
& Leigh College.
Prepared by: Neville Snodgrass CEng. FIMechE
Science & Technology
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