Drive systems offer increased efficiency, higher productivity and fewer operator injuries.
Replacing a regular caster with a motorized drive caster is the first major step in improving efficiency, increasing load capacity, and reducing operator injuries. The next major step is deciding what drive system best suits your work environment needs.
This article includes a breakdown of the four main drive systems: a single drive caster, a conversion/trike system, a tank steer drive system, and a halo/Omni drive system. Each breakdown includes a detailed description, the different uses, and the advantages and disadvantages of each system.
First, let’s address and define what is a drive system. A motorised drive system includes the drive wheel, caster rigs, and a motor. The motor has a wiring connection to a battery and a logic controller. With the electrification of casters, moving heavier loads can be easily done.
SINGLE DRIVE CASTER
Of the four main drive systems, we will begin with the breakdown of the Single Drive Caster. The single-drive caster is in a fixed position, and velocity is controlled by speeding up or slowing down the drive wheel. The system reads input from a single-axis joystick to develop a global speed command. The operator does the steering manually for this product.
In other words, pushing the joystick in the positive Y-axis (forward) will make the structure move forward. Conversely, pulling back on the joystick’s Y axis (backwards) will move the structure backwards.
Uses for the Single Drive Caster.
The Single Drive Caster can easily be attached to an existing cart to increase load moving capacity and improve movement and safety.
Advantages of the Single Drive Caster.
The single-drive caster is the least expensive of the four different drive systems. It is also the easiest to learn to operate with a single-axis joystick. In addition, it is simple to install on existing carts.
Disadvantages of the Single Drive Caster.
Unfortunately, the single-driver caster has minimal driving manoeuvrability due to the single-axis joystick. The limited manoeuvrability is not ideal for precise locations and limited space. The Single Drive Caster also has the lightest load capacity of the four systems.
TRIKE DRIVE CASTER
The Trike Drive System consists of two swivel casters and one drive caster attached to an L-shaped platform. The Trike Drive platform can easily be placed underneath different carts to help ease movement around your work environment. Like the Single Drive System, the Trike Drive System operates with a single-axis joystick.
Uses for the Trike Drive System.
The trike system is ideal for environments consisting of multiple carts since it can easily be transferred from one load to the next.
Advantages of Trike Drive System.
The main advantage of the Trike Drive System is its ability to be used in multiple ways around the work environment since it can easily be transferred to different carts. Like the Single Drive Caster, it is easy to operate and has a minimal cost.
Disadvantages of Trike Drive System.
Again, the Trike Drive System has limited movability with the single-axis joystick. Thus, moving to precise locations and operating in limited space can be challenging. It also has a lighter load capacity due to the single-drive caster.
TANK STEER DRIVE SYSTEM
The Tank Steer Drive System is based on the common drive system known as tank steering. The drive wheels are in fixed positions, and steering is controlled by speeding up or slowing down the wheels on one side of the cart relative to the other. The system reads input from a dual-axis joystick to develop a global target heading and speed command. Stable control is developed through motor feedback. Feedback is created on the motor controller’s internal PID feedback algorithm to control motor speed tightly.
Uses for the Tank Steer Drive System.
The Tank Steer Drive System typically consists of two drive casters. With the increase of a secondary drive caster, tank steering is ideal for carrying heavier loads. The dual-axis joystick increases the driving precision, thus making this setup ideal for tighter spaces.
Advantages of the Tank Steer Drive System.
The key advantages of the Tank Steer Drive System include increased driving manoeuvrability and increased load capacity due to the additional drive caster.
Disadvantages of the Tank Steer Drive System.
Due to the additional drive caster to achieve tank steering, there is an increase in cost. If you are unfamiliar with tank steering, learning how to operate the drive system properly may take additional training.
The Helo Drive System is an omnidirectional drive system featuring steerable drive pods that can be combined in different arrangements to account for size and weight requirements. Sophisticated mathematical calculations that derive the inverse kinematics for three degrees of freedom control allow an operator to move a cart by commanding a 3-axis joystick. Each drive pod can rotate 210 degrees independently.
The multi-directional system reads input from the 3-axis joystick to develop a global target heading and a global speed command. Stable control is developed through sensor feedback. This feedback is created at two levels, known as a cascading PID algorithm.
When using the HALO Drive System through the 3-axis Joystick:
- Forward and reverse directions correspond to the positive and negative Y-axis, respectively
- Right and left directions correspond to the positive and negative X-axis, respectively
- Clockwise and counterclockwise rotation directions correspond to the positive and negative Z-axis.
SCALABILITY AND MANEUVERABILITY ARE KEY ATTRIBUTES OF THE HALO DRIVE SYSTEM.
The HALO Drive System is the most advanced of the four drive systems. It typically consists of four drive casters, but additional drive casters can be added to meet specific needs for increased maximum load capacity. The 3-axis joystick with 210 degrees of freedom provides detailed driving orientation and can reach specific locations.
Advantages of the HALO Drive System.
There are major advantages to utilizing the HALO Drive System. The HALO drive pods allow all the motors to perform both steering and driving functions simultaneously, compared to other omni-drive systems that only allow one motor to steer and another to drive. This advantage results in a much higher power density and compactness, creating a lower-cost product with a higher drive performance.
The HALO Drive System by Conceptual Innovations is extremely manoeuvrable. The multi-directional motion available with the HALO is a key advantage for fitting into tight spaces. Another significant advantage is scalability. An increased load capacity is easily accomplished by adding the required drive pods. The HALO can accommodate pods from 2 to 20, resulting in a load range from 5,000 lbs. to 200,000 lbs. The HALO Drive System has various options, such as a wireless hand controller, a lifting system, safety sensors, and wireless charging.
Disadvantages of the HALO Drive System.
The HALO Drive System is the most expensive due to the increased drive casters and load capacity. The 3-axis joystick steering might require extra training to gain familiarity before operating in tight spaces.