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Linear drive

Controls flooring platform for wheelchairs

Fenton’s Abilitrax platform uses the J1939-connectable Electrak HD linear actuators. This gives upfitters more flexilibity in locating access ramps.

(Source: Adobe Stock)

The Abilitrax product family is used for flooring platforms mounted at the rear of vehicles such as Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter. It offers flexibility in locating seating and access ramps. It is important to reduce the angle of access for wheelchairs. This allows rolling in and out wheelchairs more easily and safely. The selected linear drives by Thomson are mounted inside the back of the van. They apply at least some 1000 kg of downward compression force to the vehicle’s normal suspension. Fenton engineers considered also pneumatic actuators, however, in cold weather, condensation reduces reliability. The Electrak HD linear electric drives provide the high-load handling capability, environmental resistance, and onboard electronics with CAN connectivity. They also come with a digital position feedback and diagnostics via CAN.

The Electrak HD linear drive provides J1939-connectivity (Source: Thomson)

The Electrak Modular Control System (EMCS) is built into the linear drive and can communicate via J1939 with other electronic control units (ECU) in the van. The linear actuator enables enhanced control functions that were previously external directly into the actuator. Synchronization, for example, allows for motion integration of two of more drive units to share and evenly distribute a load. Furthermore, the product provides high-load ranges up to 16 kN that are ideal for hydraulic-to-electric conversion applications, stroke lengths up to 1000 mm.

In Fenton’s platform the linear drive with low-level switching can extend or retract with a simple control signal, which is much safer than switching the full current required by the motor. Built-in end-of-stroke indicators inform users when the actuator is fully extended or retracted, and actuator electronics facilitate cycle count data. Fenton’s engineers appreciated that the drive’s electronics can be overridden manually during a power loss.


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