STS handles the road with Matrix clutch

10 November 2009

Sun Test Systems (STS), based in the Netherlands, manufactures multi-axis test systems for trucks and buses. The company recently specified a Matrix bearing-less, rotating cylinder clutch for use on an advanced multi-axis rolling road for a major lorry manufacturer.

Bearing-less Matrix clutch solves problems of high torque and speed on ‘rolling road’
Bearing-less Matrix clutch solves problems of high torque and speed on ‘rolling road’

The clutch is designed to overcome the problems of high torque/speeds and grease leakage, which caused breakdowns of previous clutch generations due to premature bearing failure. The function of the clutch is to engage and disengage a roller drive to allow vehicles to drive on and off the rolling road. In addition, by enabling the rollers to be held fast while different vehicles are loaded and unloaded, the clutch also takes the load burden off the test equipment.

The initial approach to meeting the demanding application requirements of the rolling road was a pressure applied tooth clutch; this was a modified standard unit to handle torque up to 5,000Nm. However, there were problems with this design, in that the large central bearing within the clutch could not be supplied as a sealed unit. The result of this was grease leakage at high running speeds – up to 2,650 rpm - leading to premature bearing failure.

A design initiative, undertaken to overcome the bearing failure problem, first proposed equipping the clutch with an enlarged sealed bearing; however, this option proved to be too expensive. The customer then suggested a non-bearing version; a challenge that was taken up by Matrix.

The problem was passed to Matrix’s team of highly skilled design and production engineers at the company’s state-of-the-art technical centre in Brechin, Scotland. It was not a new challenge for the engineers, as each of the products in the comprehensive Matrix range has the facility to be configured to meet the specific and unique requirements of particular applications. This application experience was put to good use to design and manufacture an innovative rotating cylinder, spring- applied clutch. The clutch was subsequently integrated into the rolling road with complete success, meeting all the demands placed upon it for high torque, high speed and longer operating life.

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