REMOTE LOCKING SYSTEM (RLS)
Like many new products born out of necessity, the RLS was developed to provide a safer method for raising heavy payloads in long-term, maintenance-free applications.
Emergency response teams rely on wireless services to coordinate rescue efforts, but when cellular service is disrupted, compromised, or non-existent, life-saving rescues are hindered, particularly during a natural disaster. Hurricanes and tornadoes are unbiased in their destruction and cell towers are just as susceptible as any other free-standing structure, leaving few options for communication for first responders and citizens. Portable cell service units, known as COWs (cellular on wheels) or COLTs (cellular on light trucks) have become assets worldwide providing much needed cell service during communication-critical situations.
As transportable as these rigs are, they are heavy duty and require an equally indestructible and safe elevation system to not only support the massive weight of communication hardware but to allow the rig to be operational and self-sustained for an extended period of time. Like many new products born out of necessity, our recently introduced Remote Locking System (RLS) for Pneumatic Masts was developed as a safer method for raising heavy payloads and as a long-term, maintenance-free elevation option.
Besides convenience, there were more serious safety concerns that led Will-Burt to develop a hands-free, no contact locking system.
The majority of locking pneumatic masts installed on COWs and COLTs in the commercial industry today are manual – requiring hands-on operation. Aside from the extra time and effort it takes to raise and lower a mast by hand, there were other, more serious safety concerns that led WB to develop a hands-free, no contact locking system.
Payload weight, access height, ground/surface condition or even inclement weather can all be a safety issue for personnel operating a manual mast, payload weight being the primary factor. The vast majority of manual masts require each lock to be pulled by hand for each elevation or retraction cycle, which, in turn, requires personnel to be standing under the payload throughout the entire operation.
Hardware used on COWs and COLTs often consist of a camera, radar, and antenna system weighing anywhere from 500 to 1,000 lb/226 kg to 452 kg and because the elevation or retraction cycle can take up to 15 minutes to complete for large masts (60 ft/18 m), the risk to personnel increases the longer they remain under a very heavy payload.
Access is another factor to consider when outfitting COWs or COLTs with an elevation system due to the combined height of both the rig and the mast. In the case of closed-wall vehicles, such as box trucks or vans, the masts are installed within the box so they can be raised and lowered through the roof, making access to the mast a challenge with vehicle heights starting at 7 ft/2.1 m.
The addition of the nested height of a mast, at a minimum of 6 ft/1.8 m, now becomes a height hazard for manual operation masts as overall access heights would range from 13 ft/4 m to as much as 33 ft/10 m for larger vehicles and taller masts. Gaining access to the locks that are above arms’ reach will obviously require a ladder, as though a heavy payload overhead wasn’t risk enough. At the very least, it would require an extension ladder and, in some instances, a roof access ladder on the outside of the truck.
Provides a hands-free elevation system to ensure heavy payloads can be raised safely and be maintenance-free for the unit’s entire deployment.
As the name suggests, the RLS (Remote Locking System) is both a remote system and an automated locking system designed to reduce safety risks to personnel and increase operation efficiency.
As a remote system, the RLS allows personnel to operate the mast using a controller that is located away from heavy payloads, providing a safer work environment for personnel and better observation of the payload. Available as a direct-mount or handheld unit, the controller can be mounted inside the vehicle, in a weather-proof box outside the vehicle, or as a handheld option. Each controller is outfitted with a convenient push-button operation of the mast and RLS system.
As an automated locking system, there is no manual intervention needed to actuate the individual collar locking mechanisms. Unlike a manual locking mast, the entire elevation and retraction cycle is done with the push of a button. The entire operation can be performed in half the time of a manual locking mast, while also saving valuable time for field personnel and mast operators.
Masts equipped with a Remote Locking System use pneumatic air pressure to elevate or retract the mast. During the elevation and retraction cycle, each lock is triggered automatically while simultaneously activating the locking pins. Once the mast is fully extended and each tube is secured by the locking pins, air pressure can then be relieved. The mast can remain elevated indefinitely without any further intervention or maintenance and without the need for air pressure, electricity, or hydraulic fluid, one of which is required for non-locking mast elevation systems.
The true reliability and longevity of the system lies in the strength of the locking pins, both to secure (lock) the mast tubes, but also to retain full elevation height against the constant stresses of heavy payload weights and inclement weather, particularly strong wind shears.
The RLS takes advantage of WB’s full-length key design to provide a highly accurate elevation system. Will-Burt’s heavy-duty pneumatic mast tubes are made using a single extrusion process producing two integrated stabilization keys that run the entire length of each mast tube. The no-twist design minimizes rotation of the mast tubes during the elevation or retraction cycle. Along with the automatic locking feature of the RLS, these combined features are ideal for critical focus and targeting applications where radar and antenna hardware require long-term pinpoint accuracy over long distances.
As the need to safely elevate heavy payloads remains steady and the demand to save time is never-ending, the Remote Locking System for Pneumatic Masts has become a much-needed solution for short-term and extended applications.