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30,000-lb (13,500-kg) axles into mining truck frames. An operator uses a pneumatic tugger to maneuver the transporter beneath a truck frame, then four hydraulic liſt frames raise the axle into position.


• Light Loads—Smaller air platforms are used on assembly lines where weights range from 300 to 2000 lb (135–900 kg). Justifications for use of air bearings for these light loads are: to reduce floor damage and the ease of move- ment and positioning for assembly operations.


Radiation/Blast Shields: A number of concrete shield


doors weighing from 20,000 to 200,000 lb (9000–90,000 kg) have been mounted on air‐caster technology to al- low easier movement. In addition to early use at nuclear energy development sites, a number of commercial X‐ray facilities now use air bearings to move similar large con- crete shield doors.


10,000 to more than 400,000 lb (4500 to 180,000 kg) present handling problems in both assembly and tests prior to ship- ment. Air‐caster equipment has been applied with success to transformer movement by a number of manufacturers in the US, Canada, China and Europe. Wire Carriers: Te use of air bearing platforms for move-


ment of coils of copper wire is one of the largest single air‐ bearing applications in history. A single company purchased more than 2600 platforms for use in cable manufacturing. A major advantage of air‐bearing equipment over conventional equipment is that it requires much less aisle space for move- ment of the coils of wire. Electric Control Modules: Air bearings have been applied


to the bottom of large electronic control cabinets that weigh from 300 to 800 lb (135–360 kg). Te air bearings allow easy cabinet movement when servicing is required.


Developed by GM in the 1950s, the technology has been used in the manufacture of everything from electrical transformers and automobiles to mining trucks and prefabricated buildings.


Paint or Hazardous Areas: Te need for costly explo-


sion‐proof forkliſt trucks has been eliminated in some applications by using air‐bearing platforms. Te platforms are equipped with aluminum rest bars to prevent sparking against concrete surfaces. In such applications, loads are normally less than 8000 lb (3600 kg) and can be manually moved by air‐film equipment. Heavier loads can be moved with an added pneumatic tugger. Machinery Moving: For installation of heavy machine


tools or for rearrangement of such machines, air-bearing platforms or air skates can be extremely useful. Contract rig- gers and plant maintenance departments in particular have embraced this approach to machinery moving. Autoclaves: Te conventional method of autoclave loading


uses wheeled dollies and tracks. However, with increasing autoclave capacity and larger loads, these dollies require more and more force for movement. Additionally, the elevated temperatures of the autoclaves also tend to shorten wheel and wheel-bearing life. A typical design approach for autoclave loading using


air‐bearing technology would include an inverted U‐shaped autoclave pallet. A low-profile air‐bearing transporter with an auxiliary liſt would move under the pallet, liſt and move it into the autoclave. Te transporter would then be withdrawn. Arena Seating: Mobile seating sections have given versatil-


ity to auditoriums, sports arenas and large stadiums. Sensitive floors in these buildings give air bearings a major advantage over conventional wheels. Heavy Electrical Equipment: Transformers weighing from


Plate Glass Handling: Tis high‐density but fragile mate-


rial can safely be moved on air‐film equipment. Te cushioned support given by air bearings allows easy movement without destructive vibration. Stage, Teater and Showrooms: Te combined advantages


of low moving force and low floor loading make air cast- ers a practical tool for rotating stages and displays. A typical example of this use is a dinner theater in Florida, where a complete stage is moved into the audience. Heavy Loads: Whenever heavy loads are being moved,


there is a possible application for air‐bearing equipment. As loads increase from 10 tons to over 500 tons, the advantages of air bearings become more significant. In addition to the above usages, Airfloat has identified


several applications that are not well‐suited to air bearings. For instance, difficulty moving heavy cargo around the holds of ships has led to experimentation with air‐bearing equipment. Previous applications have proved unsuccessful due to listing of the ship and resulting driſting of loads. Truck loading has proved to be another challenge for air


bearings. No installations have yet been made, but consider- able planning has been done to overcome inherent problem like providing a continuous smooth surface from loading dock to trailer and maintaining uniform trailer height as the load is applied or moved. Makers of air-film equipment continue to develop new


applications for this powerful yet largely unknown technology. Perhaps they will one day solve the inherent problems associ- ated with cargo ships and loading docks.


Motorized Vehicle Manufacturing 49


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