Collaboration and Open Innovation

When Airport Technologies Inc. went looking for a clutch solution for its newest airport snowblower model, the Snow Wolf SB-1050, its expectations and requirements were high.

“The clutch needed to be able to handle a 1,050-hp engine and 3,400 ft.-lbs. of torque, but also have smart technology to protect itself from damage,” says Barry Smith, president of Airport Technologies, Southport, Manitoba, Canada.

Another challenge Airport Technologies had to overcome was that it had already started building the machine with a proprietary gearbox developed by Rj Link International Inc., onto which the clutch had to be mounted directly. The clutch manufacturer would have to work closely with the gearbox provider to integrate its custom solution onto the gearbox and into the snowblower.

PT Tech, based in Sharon Center, OH, had a hydraulic PTO clutch that fit the demands. “What was interesting to us when we first started talking with PT Tech,” says Smith, “was they demonstrated no reservations to working with another company, and in fact ended up working closely with the gearbox manufacturer to pull this product solution together and deliver it to us on time.”

Application solution

The Airport Technology Snow Wolf SB-1050 was built to address the rapid pace snow removal needs to happen on the runway. The vehicle was built to run at 25 miles per hour and throw snow 85 feet. “Overall we wanted our machine to be able to run fast, throw snow and achieve a clearing capacity of 7,500 tons per hour,” says Smith.

The sheer size of the new model was the reason the company needed to find a new clutch solution that could not only handle the torque and horsepower of the machine but also was smart.

The hydraulic power take-off (HPTO) diesel engine clutch from PT Tech features a hydraulic cylinder that applies pressure to the clutch plates. The clutch system is controlled via a microprocessor control system that is J1939 compatible.

The electronic controls allow the operator to monitor everything that is going on with the engine system, but also allow the system to be smart. If there is a problem with the engine system, the engine relays information to the CAN bus system and a custom sequenced shut-down process, that has been programmed into the control system, can be followed to protect the components and machine.

A recent change PT Tech has made to its control system is a new software solution called ProLink. The software allows the OEM to configure the clutch operation to its particular machine instead of PT Tech making programming changes all in-house thus eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming custom code writing. This allows a customizable solution for the OEM, and allows it to make changes and shut down sequences and other safety stops as it sees fit.

“The PT Tech clutch is monitored electronically so that if the oil supply is low, it won’t engage; if there isn’t enough pressure, it won’t engage. If there is a problem with the clutch, it won’t engage. If the operator misses a warning code or alarm, the clutch will avoid putting itself in harm’s way,” says Smith.