Lightweight Mobile Platform

MayTec was asked to assist in the design of a lightweight mobile platform that is hard wearing and of considerable proportion. Part of the request was to allow for the platform to be strong enough to support 6 workers at any one time and also be light enough to be moved in and around the workshop and had a maximum weight of being 250kg.

Making the platform lightweight

When starting the design the first challenge was always going to be on how to keep the weight to a minimum. With such a large structure and such a low end target weight, it was always going to be a careful balancing act when it came to this structure. The MayTec profile system is inherently a lightweight basis from which to kick things off, but in determining the dimensions of this structure making it from virtually anything was still going to be heavy!

Strong Sub-frame

The project then progressed to determining how to support the weight on the structure and also the structure itself. The three primary ribs were created and then held together by the outer rails of the platforms themselves to create a rigid and uniquely adjustable frame.

The lower legs, with wheels and the remainder would easily be fixed to this. So as a general rule we work to the principle that if you can attach a foot or a castor, some leg or support to the actual sub-frame of any particular unit, then you’re designing it better than adding bits and pieces that have the opportunity to be snapped off in a mishap. In this instance there isn’t much chance of snapping items off without deliberately ramming the entire structure into another one!

So with the first hurdle of keeping a lightweight and strong frame sorted, we could then move on to the next main concern

Lightweight flooring

When looking at traditional flooring materials, such as timber or aluminium tread plate there was always going to be an issue. Either too much weight was involved or the substrate was never going to be strong enough without significant reinforcement. So in speaking with a supplier, we were able to offer up the solution of a lightweight fibre reinforced plastic. This material was also a key part in the puzzle of being able to ensure that the frame and floor worked together in terms of strength and rigidity and allowed the weight to stay down.

Strong vibration proof connections

Some of the final steps in the process were easier than others. As the customer had requested for the platform to have rigid connections that would not come loose over time we were able to offer up the universal MayTec connectors in contrast to welding. These connectors which have proven themselves over time – in some of the most demanding environments, not to vibrate free, were the typical selection in the design as they maintained the low weight/high strength requirements. It also allowed elements to be removed/repaired should any damage occur to the frame.

Steps, handrails and additional landings were made to the unit using tried and tested systems, and again, the weight was kept to a minimum.

A strong and secure frame.

Now that the design had been finalised the total weight of the unit was calculated and came in at just on 230kg. For a frame that is 5 metres tall and 6 metres wide it’s extremely low as a total weight. It functioned in being able to be pushed by a single person, and was also able to be connected from one frame to another to allow an even longer – essentially – single structure.

Progress for other fields

As some time has passed since this project was conceived, there have been numerous other applications that have drawn inspiration from this initial design. Others have included road and rail servicing, aircraft servicing and event access/set up and a whole host of other ideas and concepts built from that.

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