Heavy equipment and mobile material handling systems don’t have it easy. They have to operate in the most demanding outdoor environments—usually with continuous exposure to some combination of temperature extremes, vibration, moisture, dust and dirt. To work reliably in these conditions, every part of the machine has to be ruggedized. And that includes its encoders.
Encoders play a crucial role in all kinds of heavy equipment applications, providing feedback for position and speed control. Without encoders, most heavy machines would be lifeless hunks of steel.
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Not all encoders, however, are well-suited to the rigors of heavy-equipment use. It’s important to pick encoders with design features that allow them to resist damage from vibration. And encoders for these applications typically require a high level of protection, typically IP67 or IP69K, against harsh operating environments.

Aside from being rugged, the best encoder choice will vary depending on the type of heavy equipment. Here’s a quick overview:

Truck-mounted cranes and fire trucks. To control crane and fire ladder position, both of which need accurate angular measurements, you can use multi-turn encoders in conjunction with draw wire systems and inclinometers. Choose an encoder with IP67 or IP69K protection. Also, look for encoders with robust bearings to handle shock and vibration. Use an inclinometer with high IP protection to accurately measure and control horizontal operator basket positioning.

Vehicles with automated guidance and telescopic forklifts. Compact rotary encoders determine speed, steering angle and position of load-carrying devices and help ensure both safety and reliability. Incremental encoders with a wide operating temperature range provide accurate optical scanning and dynamic rotary speed measurement. For other tasks, absolute encoders with IP69K protection enable reliable steering angle control and accurate measurement of lift height.

Agricultural and forestry equipment. Inclinometers monitor horizontal vehicle position and send an alert if excessive inclines occur, while encoders send feedback about machinery angles and speed of dynamic equipment. Outdoor encoders should be specified with humidity in mind and IP69K protection. For example, absolute magnetic encoders work well in humid environments, ensuring accurate saw blade setting angles. Inclinometers help guarantee vehicle balance control.

Working platforms, construction machinery and tunneling and mining equipment. All of these benefit from specialized encoders that provide accurate angular measurements, position information and speed regulation. Look for protection levels that help encoders withstand dust and dirt and handle shock and vibration on lifts, conveyor belts and other machinery components.

To learn more about encoders for heavy equipment and mobile material handling systems, download our application guide.

Download The Application Guide