Electronic controls are making it safer for operators to stand on an aerial platform that lifts them 50 ft (15 m) in the air. Italian manufacturer Bluelift teamed up with TTControl to develop controls that stabilize the system and manage most other aspects of vehicle control.
Bluelift’s SA 16 Compact uses TTControl's TTC 200 electronic control unit to manage all functions and movements of the vehicle, which has a maximum lift height of 16 m (52 ft). That includes all driving movements and the translation of the vehicle as well as the lifting and automatic stabilization of the platform.
“The columns of the lifting platform guarantee horizontal positioning of the platform even if the surface is sloped. The auto stabilization function guarantees that the movement of the arm of the vehicle is stopped before the vehicle overbalances,” said Markus Plankensteiner, Marketing Director at TTTech Computertechnik AG, parent of TTControl.
Operator input in the lift cage is via a 3- x 5-in TTControl control panel. The panel includes a 15-key keyboard that is tied to the rest of the vehicle using a network normally used on passenger cars for simple tasks such as lifting windows. “It is connected over a LIN interface, which has the advantage that only three signal lines are necessary,” said Plankensteiner. LIN (local interconnect network) offers lower costs than CAN, he noted.
The bulk of the systems are linked using a CAN network that connects CAN pressure sensors, CAN angle sensors, and the operator control levers. The motors that raise the lift from its compressed height of just under 10 ft (3 m) are also tied to the network.
The sensors and networks meet Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 2 requirements, while using two TTC 200 control units in a TTP network meets SIL 3 regulations. “We must insist on the highest safety standards for electronic control of the machine," said Gianni Marti, Sales Manager at Bluelift.
Common functions can be easily automated via the lift’s software. Users can program the control units with the IEC 61131-3 CoDeSys programming system, the C language and The MathWorks' MATLAB/Simulink libraries. This programming environment reduces field maintenance problems because end users can reconfigure the system without any special tools.