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Title:
ELEMENT OF A TRACKED MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY FOR WORKS MACHINES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/097556
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) of a tracked movement assembly for works machines, which comprises at least one seat (2), which is open outward, for at least one transducer (3) of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit (4) equipped with at least one transceiver module; the at least one transducer (3) is of the consumable type and faces the outer surface, subject to wear, of the element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40).

Inventors:
CALIA EUSTACHIO (IT)
MORETTI NICOLAS (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IT2017/000260
Publication Date:
May 23, 2019
Filing Date:
November 17, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ITALTRACTOR (IT)
International Classes:
G07C5/00; G07C5/08; B62D55/08
Foreign References:
US20150081166A12015-03-19
CA2991072A12017-01-05
US20160023696A12016-01-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MODIANO, Micaela et al. (Via Meravigli 16 I, Milano, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines, characterized in that it comprises at least one seat (2), which is open outward, for at least one transducer (3) of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit (4) equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer (3) being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40).

2. The element according to claim 1, characterized in that said transducer (3) and said unit (4) are arranged mutually proximate and are interconnected by means of adapted connecting cables (5), said unit (4) being arranged in a position chosen between internal with respect to said seat (2) and proximate to said seat (2).

3. The element according to claim 1, characterized in that said at least one processing unit (4) comprises at least one memory cell for collecting surveys of at least one value chosen between the time elapsed since commissioning or since a predefined instant, the number of operating cycles performed by said element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) since commissioning or since a predefined instant and the like, and the temperature.

4. The element according to claim 1, characterized in that said at least one processing unit (4) comprises at least one device of the type of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a Hall effect sensor, a proximity sensor, a heat probe, and the like.

5. The element according to claim 1, characterized in that said at least one transceiver module is of the type of a Bluetooth® module, a Wi-Fi module, a telephone dialer, a radio set, an optical module and the like.

6. A tracked movement assembly for works machines, characterized in that at least one component element thereof (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) comprises at least one seat (2), which is open outward, for at least one transducer (3) of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit (4) equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer (3) being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40).

7. The assembly according to claim 6, characterized in that said at least one processing unit (4) comprises at least one memory cell and at least one device such as an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a Hall effect sensor, a proximity sensor, a heat probe and the like, for the survey and collection of at least one value chosen among the time elapsed since commissioning or since a predefined instant, the number of operating cycles performed by said element (1 , 10, 20, 30, 40) since commissioning or since a predefined instant, and the like.

8. The assembly according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that said at least one transceiver module is of the type of a Bluetooth® module, a Wi-Fi module, a telephone dialer, a radio set, an optical module and the like, for transceiving data to an external apparatus (A) chosen preferably from a processor, even comprised in said works machine, a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, a mobile telephone, a handheld computer, and the like.

9. A process for the control and management of tracked movement assemblies for works machines, which consists in

- arranging within seats (2), which are open outward, of specific elements (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) of the movement assembly at least one transducer (3) of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit (4) equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer (3) being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40),

- detecting periodically the state of wear of the transducer (3), which corresponds to the wear of the element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) in which it is installed, by means of the communication of an external control apparatus (A) with said transceiver module,

- proceeding with the replacement of the element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) in the seat (2) of which said transducer (3) is installed upon a wear of said transducer (3) that exceeds a predefined threshold.

10. The process for the control and management of movement assemblies according to claim 9, characterized in that said at least one processing unit (4) comprises at least one memory cell and at least one device of the type of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a Hall effect sensor, a proximity sensor, a heat probe and the like, for the survey and collection of at least one value chosen from the time elapsed since commissioning or since a predefined instant, the number of operating cycles performed by said element (1, 10, 20, 30, 40) since commissioning or since a predefined instant and the like, said transceiver module sending a data string to the external control apparatus (A), which comprises the measurement of the portion of the transducer (3) that is worn and at least one additional data item chosen from the time elapsed since a reference instant, the distance traveled from a reference point, the number of operating cycles performed since a reference instant, and the like.

Description:
ELEMENT OF A TRACKED MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY FOR WORKS MACHINES

The present invention relates to an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines.

Machines provided with tracks for transmission of motion from the engine to the ground are extremely widespread and preferred in environments in which traction is problematic. These machines can be used to perform various kinds of work, for example at construction sites, at demolition sites, in landfills, in mines and in some particular agricultural and/or mountain environments.

It is specified that the components that cooperate for the movement of the works machine (and which therefore serve the tracks directly or indirectly) are known as "undercarriage" components: these are necessary and provide support for the transmission of the motion between the reduction unit (which is mechanically driven by the engine) and the ground.

The main components that cooperate to constitute the so-called undercarriage of a works machine are the following: link (understood as each individual component of the track that must be articulated to the others), shoe or track pad, roller, track tensioning wheel, driving wheel, segments, monobloc and tumbler.

The links and shoes can be replaced by a single component, the so- called monobloc. A plurality of mutually articulated links composes a chain.

During operation, this chain is assembled on the machine, forming a continuous structure that is closed on itself and is wound between two or more wheels arranged at a given operating center distance, and around a variable number of rollers. The component or wheel that transmits motion from the engine to the chain is known, depending on the embodiments, as sprocket, segment or tumbler. In view of the complexity of the conditions in which these machines operate, undercarriage components are subject to high wear. The wear of the components arises from the mutual friction of the surfaces of mutually coupled components which can move with respect to each other and of these components with respect to the ground. These onerous conditions force the lifespan of the various elements of the movement assembly (track and components that serve it) to be influenced by the context in which they operate and by the way in which they are used. Once they have reached a maximum value of wear, they must be replaced.

The high work load also causes a certain number of failures and damages which force the extraordinary replacement of these elements in some cases.

In order to ensure that the operation of the works machines is always regular, replacements of the parts subject to wear are planned: they can be periodic (defined by predefined time intervals and/or by the number of kilometers covered by the works machine) or determined by inspections of qualified personnel.

The inspections can be entrusted only to visual examination or can provide for surveys and measurements: in particular, it is necessary to verify the extent of worn material and the suitability of the residual portion to perform its service.

Furthermore, it is possible to make estimates of the lifespan of the residual portions of each component by virtue of the survey of the already worn (abraded) thickness and by referring to the hours and type of service performed to generate it.

Unfortunately, the execution of periodic inspections is particularly problematic, since it is difficult to be able to use measurement instruments to survey the thicknesses removed by abrasion, owing to the reduced (in some cases nonexistent) accessibility from the outside of many parts of the so-called undercarriage.

Moreover, this type of component is often covered with mud, soil and other residues: to have a complete view of the components it would be necessary to perform washing prior to each inspection, which veiy often it is impossible to perform.

Also in relation to the mere estimate of possible wear, it should be taken into account that some components are subject to a different rate of wear if the works machine has operated only by traveling forward or also in reverse: this conditions renders the estimates of wear based exclusively on a predefined periodicity quite unreliable.

It is known to resort to sensors installed in the various components of the undercarriage of a works machine in order to survey the respective wear: these sensors allow the operator to view the wear of the various components on a display of the works machine which is located for example on the dashboard or on the control panel.

The adoption of these sensors is provided in prior documents US2015/0081 166, WO2016/032793.

However, the described sensors do not allow a precise estimate of the state of wear of each of the components in which they are installed, due to their difficulty in dividing into discrete units the thickness of worn material (discretization would allow a more objective survey).

The methods for reporting wear provided in the cited prior art documents, moreover, are not suitable to ensure scheduling of maintenance operations (intended to replace the worn components) and are therefore particularly unsuitable for all cases in which the works machines operate in particularly demanding (wear-inducing) environments and in the cases in which it is necessary to minimize the inactivity times of the machines, relegating them to particular predefined periods.

The aim of the present invention is to solve the problems described above, proposing an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines that provides evidence of a measurement of its own state of wear.

Within this aim, an object of the invention is to propose an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines that allows to plan precisely the respective maintenance operations and replacements. Another object of the invention is to propose an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines whose state of wear can be detected at any time, even during use and without the need for preliminary preparation operations.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines that has modest costs, is relatively simple to provide in practice and is safe in application.

This aim and these objects are achieved by an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines, characterized in that it comprises at least one seat, which is open outward, for at least one transducer of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element.

This aim and these objects are also achieved by a tracked movement assembly for works machines, characterized in that at least one component element thereof comprises at least one seat, which is open outward, for at least one transducer of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element.

This aim and these objects can be achieved also by virtue of the application of a process for the control and management of tracked movement assemblies for works machines, which consists in

- arranging within seats, which are open outward, of specific elements of the movement assembly, respective at least one transducer of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit equipped with at least one transceiver module, said at least one transducer being of the consumable type and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of said element, - surveying periodically the state of wear of the transducer, which corresponds to the wear of the element in which it is installed, by means of the communication of an external control apparatus with said transceiver module,

- proceeding with the replacement of the element in the seat of which said transducer is installed upon a wear of said transducer that exceeds a predefined threshold.

Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become better apparent from the description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment of the element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention, illustrated by way of nonlimiting example in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is a schematic perspective view of a possible sensor and of a possible external device/apparatus of an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 2 is a schematic sectional perspective view of a possible element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 3 is a schematic perspective view of the element of Figure 2;

Figure 4 is a schematic sectional perspective view of a further element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 5 is a schematic perspective view of the element of Figure 4;

Figure 6 is a schematic sectional perspective view of a further element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 7 is a schematic sectional side view of the element of Figure 6;

Figure 8 is a schematic perspective view of a further element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 9 is a schematic sectional side view of the element of Figure 8; Figure 10 is a schematic perspective view of a further element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines according to the invention;

Figure 11 is an enlarged-scale view of a detail of Figure 10.

With particular reference to the figures, the numerals 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 generally designate the possible elements, according to the invention, of a tracked movement assembly for works machines.

Each element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 according to the invention comprises at least one seat 2, which is open outward, for at least one transducer 3 of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit 4 equipped with at least one transceiver module.

The at least one transducer 3 is of the consumable type and faces the outer surface, subject to wear, of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 in which it is installed.

One possible embodiment of the transducer 3 of the consumable type provides for the presence of an electric circuit supported on a respective substrate. The circuit comprises a plurality of discrete elements which are coupled in parallel to each other by means of appropriate guides made of conducting material. The circuit is connected electrically to the unit 4 which is preset to measure an electrical parameter of the circuit, in particular the respective value of electrical resistance. The particular arrangement of the transducer 3, with one of its ends aligned with the outer surface of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 (which faces said surface from the opening toward the outside of the seat 2) subjects the transducer 3 to the same wear to which the surface of said element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 is subjected.

Upon wear, the transducer 3 wears, in particular the discrete elements coupled in parallel wear one at a time, thus modifying the characteristic measured by the unit 4 (for example modifying the detected value of electrical resistance). This change provides an indication of the amount of wear of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40.

The transducer 3 and the unit 4 might be integrated in a single component or might be mutually separate, despite being always within the scope defined by the present invention.

With particular reference to an embodiment of unquestionable interest in application, the transducer 3 and the unit 4 are arranged mutually close and are interconnected by means of adapted connecting cables 5.

The unit 4 can be arranged advantageously inside the seat 2 or outside it but proximate thereto.

The only refinement that it is suitable to adopt is the one related to the placement of the unit 4 in a position in which it is in no way shielded, thus avoiding any signal transceiving disturbance.

The at least one processing unit 4 conveniently comprises at least one memory cell for collecting surveys of at least one value.

This value, which will be stored in the memory cell, is chosen between the time elapsed since commissioning or since a predefined instant, the number of operating cycles performed by the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 since commissioning or since a predefined instant and the like.

The at least one processing unit 4 can favorably comprise at least one device of the type of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a Hall effect sensor, a proximity sensor, a heat probe and the like.

By virtue of the presence of this device it is possible to associate with the wear of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 (surveyed by measuring the wear of the transducer 3) a series of facilitating (or non-facilitating) factors that have occurred during use: in particular, it is possible to associate the wear of the element 1 , 10, 20, 30, 40 with the number of operating cycles (measured by means of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, etc.) with the use time, with the traveled distance and with the operating temperature. Other environmental factors might also be considered: humidity, the presence of acid mists, the presence of saline mists, use on an aggressive substrate (for example acid or alkaline) and the like might in fact affect the abrasion rate of the component 1, 10, 20, 30, 40. It is useful to specify that the at least one transceiver module of the unit 4 can positively be of the type of a Bluetooth® module, a Wi-Fi module, a telephone dialer, a radio set, an optical module and the like.

By virtue of the presence of this transceiver module it is possible to receive a string of data that comprises the state of wear and all the other parameters correlated therewith, using any device A that is suitable for communication with said module: merely by way of example, it is specified that any smartphone (for example even the one used by the operator who is driving the machine during its operation), or another similar device, might perform this task. Is not excluded, in any case, to insert a device A capable of communicating with the transceiver module in the works machine or in the depot within which it is parked periodically.

The present invention relates also to a tracked movement assembly for works machines, which comprises at least one element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 provided with at least one seat 2, which is open outward and within which at least one transducer 3 of at least one sensor, provided with at least one processing unit 4 equipped with at least one transceiver module, is installed.

The transducer 4 is of the type described previously, therefore consumable and facing the outer surface, subject to wear, of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40.

The presence in the assembly of a plurality of different elements 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 allows to estimate the wear of each one of them and therefore a more effective and safer scheduling of all the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance operations.

Data transceiving occurs between the module of the unit 4 of each element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 and an external apparatus (device A) chosen preferably from a processor, even comprised in the works machine, a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, a cellular phone, a handheld computer and the like.

The described external apparatus can acquire distinct strings of data from each individual unit 4 (associated with a respective transducer 3) of each individual element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40, in order to perform a complete estimate of the state of wear of all the components of the movement assembly.

The present invention also relates to a process for the control and management of tracked movement assemblies for works machines.

This process consists of a sequence of operating steps in which the first step provides for arranging within appropriate seats 2, which are open outward, of specific elements 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 of the movement assembly, at least one transducer 3 of at least one sensor provided with at least one processing unit 4 provided with at least one transceiver module: the at least one transducer 3 must efficiently be of the consumable type and faces the outer surface, subject to wear, of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 in which it is installed.

During a second step it is necessary to survey periodically the state of wear of the transducer 3, which corresponds to the wear of the- element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 in which it is installed, by means of a communication of an external control apparatus A with the transceiver module of the unit 4.

During a third step, one proceeds with the replacement of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 in the seat 2 of which the transducer 3 is installed, when a the passing of a certain threshold of wear of the transducer 3 is observed which corresponds to a wear of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 such as to render it less than fully suitable to perform its intended task effectively.

According to the process, the at least one processing unit 4 can comprise conveniently at least one memory cell and at least one device of the type of an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a Hall effect sensor, a proximity sensor, a heat probe and the like.

This device is preset to survey and collect at least one value chosen from the time elapsed since commissioning or since a predefined instant, the number of operating cycles performed by the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 since commissioning or since a predefined instant and the like.

The transceiver module of the unit 4 thus sends a data string to the external control apparatus (device A), which comprises the measurement of the portion of the transducer 3 that is worn and at least one additional data item chosen from the time elapsed since a reference instant, the distance traveled from a reference point, the number of operating cycles performed since a reference instant, and the like.

The data received as a whole by the device A allow to associate with the wear survey also a series of statistical parameters that allow the use of predictive algorithms to estimate when, in the future, it will be necessary to perform replacements of the various monitored elements 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 (for example to perform all or part of the replacements as part of a single maintenance operation).

Advantageously, the present invention allows to solve the problems described earlier, proposing an element 1 , 10, 20, 30, 40 of a tracked movement assembly for works machines that provides evidence of a measurement of its own state of wear. The fact that it is possible to detect the state of wear during the wear of the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 itself, so as to allow the assigned technicians to make estimates regarding the best time when to perform a future replacement of said component, is extremely important.

Favorably, the element 1, 10, 20, 30, 40 according to the invention allows to schedule precisely the respective maintenance operations and replacements.

Positively, the element 1 allows to survey the state of wear at any time and/or in any step of operation of the works machine, even during use and without the need for prior preparation operations.

Validly, the present invention allows to provide an element of a tracked movement assembly for works machines that is relatively simple to provide in practice and has modest costs: this innovative content renders the present invention an invention of assured application.

The invention thus conceived is susceptible of numerous modifications and variations, all of which are within the scope of the appended claims; all the details may furthermore be replaced with other technically equivalent elements.

In the exemplary embodiments shown, individual characteristics, given in relation to specific examples, may actually be interchanged with other different characteristics that exist in other exemplary embodiments.

In practice, the materials used, as well as the contingent shapes and dimensions, may be any according to the requirements and the state of the art.

Where technical features mentioned in any claim are followed by reference signs, those reference signs have been included for the sole purpose of increasing the intelligibility of the claims and accordingly such reference signs do not have any limiting effect on the interpretation of each element identified by way of example by such reference signs.