Cascade Corporation (Toyota)
Wireless Power & Data transmission for forklift attachments
Cascade Corporation and PowerbyProxi co-developed a Wireless Power & Communication System to enable forklift operators to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and achieve an overall cleaner design compared to traditional over-the-mast and forklift battery recharging systems.
By integrating PowerbyProxi’s Proxi-Point™ 12W wireless power system, Cascade was able to develop a specialized solution to reliably transfer power and data on any number of sensor attachments for their customers.
Cascade is the global leader in lift truck attachments, forks, and accessories which they market to customers around the world. For decades, Cascade’s customers with forklift attachments requiring electrical accessories, have struggled with the maintenance time and costs necessary to keep complex over-the-mast wiring systems functional and damage-free. More recent solutions eliminated the power cord altogether and replaced it with rechargeable batteries and wireless Radio Frequency control. However batteries rarely lasted very long and the productivity loss from constantly changing batteries made the solution unfeasible.
The challenge for Cascade was to find a reliable and cost effective way to transfer power and data to attachment accessories, while reducing maintenance costs, simplify wireless communication and switching, and ensuring driver visibility was not affected.
Finding a solution:
PowerbyProxi presented a solution that provides not only reliable wireless power delivery to sensors on the forks, but also reliable data transmission to and from sensors and the forklift. The Proxi-Point™ 12W wireless power system removed the need for a physical wiring system between the mast and carriage, eliminating the requirement for regular maintenace or impacting the visbility of the driver. Wireless recharging using inductive power transfer also eliminated the need for multiple batteries and constant battery replacement, increasing overall productivity.
Power delivery: Cascade required a system that could safely match power requirements for multiple sensors, as well as deliver power between the mast and carriage over a distance of 6 mm, at high efficiency.
Data communication: The wireless system also needed to ensure reliable and efficient wireless transmission of signals and data between the attachment and operator cab. From simple operator driven inputs, to advanced attachment controls using a variety of sensors, the Proxi-Point™ 12W system was able to utilize Cascade’s existing digital Radio Frequency switching infrastructure to send signals both to and from the attachment (2 Way Digital RF Switching (2×2 or 2 inputs and 2 outputs each way….or 4 total GPIO circuits).
The Proxi-Point™ 12W was also developed to incorporate a wireless CAN node to send signals over a gap between the transceivers via RF at a max 10 meter range. So instead of adding additional external radio sets for capabilities beyond the 2 Way Digital RF signalling, a controller can be developed to communicate a complex array of signals over CAN.
Carton Clamps application
One Cascade customer in particular is experiencing the benefits of the Proxi-Point system for appliance handling. Strategically located sensors on the clamp arms automatically detect the size and type of load, it then utilizes the Proxi-Point system to wirelessly control the appropriate clamp force without any operator interface.
Cascade is able to offer their customers improved performance
in terms of:
- Increased productivity & functionality: Improved visibility and cleaner design (no hose reels, no power cords), attachments can be operated wirelessly from the cab, Two-way digital RF switching can be customized for a variety of specific needs, CANbus communication technology adds nearly unlimited functionality to attachments.
- Reduced operating & repair costs: batteries for attachments never have to be removed for replacement or recharging and elimination of over-the-mast wiring & associated damage.
“To date we have had the most experience with this new technology in the appliance clamps market, but it is applicable to a wide array of applications. The potential for this product opens the door to a wide variety of applications and paves the way for making any attachment truly ‘smart’ in nature.”
Martin Boyd, Cascade’s Senior Global Corporate Marketing Manager
Challenges for PowerbyProxi:
One of the main challenges for PowerbyProxi was to ensure reliable, consistent delivery of power and data in a unique, high throughput environment. Elements to consider were extreme temperature variations, dust, oil, water as well as general wear and tear associated with normal lift truck operation. The Proxi-Point 12 system was designed and tested in accordance with EMC and FCC certifications.