igus has developed the e-rover coupling for mobile equipment - in particular, rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes used for handling shipping containers at ports. The e-rover coupling enables the vehicle to be connected for a defined route and then uncoupled when it needs to leave the route. Watch the short video to see it in action (NB this video has no sound).
When first introduced, RTGs had diesel engines to give the necessary power and mobility for accurately positioning and stacking shipping containers. Now, however, for environmental and cost reasons, electric drives are more common; initial indications are that electric RTGs could reduce running costs by 40 per cent. Electric RTGs require modern energy chains with average travels of 200-300m. For quick and safe coupling and uncoupling of the chains to the vehicle, which is necessary each time the RTG changes from one guide trough to another, igus has developed the special e-rover coupling for connecting power and signals - and could equally well be used for hydraulic fluids or fibre-optic cables. When uncoupled and moving between stacks or elsewhere, the RTG reverts to diesel power. Changeovers between electric and diesel power or back again take less than one minute.
At the docking stations at the start and end of every trough, the igus system - comprising a lifting unit, floating moving end and moving end carriage - automatically completes the coupling at the crane operator's signal. At the moving end, a variable telescopic arm and sensors ensure that any deviations are compensated for. The maximum travel along a single guide trough is 800m.