US 20060032702 A1
An aerial boom assembly comprising a first member having a fixed length and comprising first and second ends, the second end being pivotally coupled to a mobile base. The aerial boom assembly comprises a second member pivotally coupled to the first member at the first end, the second member comprising an extension member slidably coupled to the second member along an inner channel of the second member. The first and second members are made from a composite material comprising a reinforcement material in a polymeric matrix.
1. An aerial boom assembly comprising:
a first member having a fixed length and comprising first and second ends, the second end being pivotally coupled to a mobile base;
a second member pivotally coupled to the first member at the first end, the second member comprising an extension member slidably coupled to the second member along an inner channel of the second member;
wherein at least one of the first and second members are made from a composite material comprising a reinforcement material in a polymeric matrix.
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20. A vehicle for firefighting and rescue operations, comprising:
a support structure having a support surface;
a plurality of wheels coupled to the support structure, wherein the wheels maintain the support structure above a surface;
a power source for powering the vehicle; and
an aerial boom assembly coupled to the support surface, the aerial boom assembly being made from a composite material comprising a reinforcement material suspended in a polymeric matrix.
21. The vehicle of
22. The vehicle of
23. The vehicle of
24. The vehicle of
25. The vehicle of
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29. The vehicle of
30. A method for producing an aerial boom assembly, comprising:
providing a first member having a fixed length and comprising first and second ends, the second end being pivotally coupled to a vehicle;
providing a second member pivotally coupled to the first member at the first end, wherein the second member comprises an extension member coupled to the second member by way of a telescopic arrangement; and
producing the first and second members from a composite material utilizing a reinforcement material in a polymeric matrix.
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This application is a continuation-in-part application of co-pending U.S. application Ser. No. 10/902,497 filed on Jul. 29, 2004, from which priority is claimed under 35 U.S.C. § 120. The full disclosure, in its entirety, of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/902,497 is hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates to devices for firefighting and rescue operations. In particular, the present invention relates to a composite aerial boom assembly for use with firefighting and/or rescue vehicles.
Many different types of vehicles utilize aerial boom systems for firefighting and/or rescue operations. In general, aerial boom systems are configured to extend from a vehicle or other structure and elevate to a predetermined height. Some aerial boom systems are also configured to tilt and adjust along various axes. Typically, aerial booms include hollow piercing nozzles on the outer ends which are configured to pass through a wall or other structure (e.g., aircraft fuselage) to the interior of the structure where fire-retardant material or other liquid may be released. Because of the demanding conditions involved with fires and other rescue operations, steel is a common material for constructing aerial boom systems. Steel is very strong, stiff, and durable and is usually able to maintain its mechanical and physical characteristics (e.g., strength) during firefighting and rescue operations.
Although steel has high strength & stiffness characteristics, it has a relatively low specific strength (i.e., strength/density ratio). This can prove problematic because of the need to decrease the weight of firefighting vehicles and devices. Less vehicle weight allows for better performance of the vehicles (e.g., cost savings and space for lighter equipment). Lighter vehicles accelerate and decelerate faster, require less energy for acceleration, and wear less during deceleration. Weight savings at the top of the vehicle may also have an impact on the center of gravity of the vehicle. Weight reduction at the top of the vehicle can lower the entire center of gravity for the vehicle, resulting in a more stable vehicle along its roll axis. Further, heavy steel can require various engineering modifications such as reinforced areas (e.g., additional steel) for an extensible boom needed to reach remote areas. Such modifications can lead to large amounts of steel, which ultimately increase the weight of the vehicle and/or devices.
Some aerial boom systems have attempted to solve these problems by using aluminum to produce the aerial boom. However, in some situations it can be disadvantageous to use aluminum because aluminum is commonly extruded and easily deformable once welded. This can produce a need for more tolerance and/or expensive machining processes to bring a system back into tolerance once it has deformed. In addition, aluminum does not always maintain its strength and durability and can degrade under demanding operational conditions. For example, aluminum can begin to fatigue and lose strength and stiffness through overaging after being subjected to a 300 degree Fahrenheit temperature for over six hours.
In view of these problems, it would be desirable to provide an aerial boom assembly made from a lightweight, durable composite material. Additionally, it would be desirable to provide an aerial boom assembly that is easily configurable according to the particular needs associated with a given application. It would further be desirable to provide an aerial boom assembly that is able to maintain its strength and durability at high temperatures.
It would be advantageous to provide a system or the like of a type disclosed in the present application that provides any one or more of these or other advantageous features. The present invention further relates to various features and combinations of features shown and described in the disclosed embodiments. Other ways in which the objects and features of the disclosed embodiments are accomplished will be described in the following specification or will become apparent to those skilled in the art after they have read this specification. Such other ways are deemed to fall within the scope of the disclosed embodiments if they fall within the scope of the claims which follow.
In general the aerial boom assembly described in this disclosure comprises a plurality of members, one of which is pivotally coupled to a mobile base (e.g., vehicle). The aerial boom assembly is configured for use with different vehicles including vehicle 100 shown in
Vehicle 100 includes a support structure 110, a plurality of ground engaging motive members 120, a power source, a vehicle body 140, an aerial boom assembly 150, and an aerial boom attachment 160 having a piercing nozzle assembly 170 (e.g., piercing tool). Support structure 110 has a front end 112 and a rear end 114. Support structure 110 is generally configured to provide a structural support base for the various components of vehicle 100.
Ground-engaging motive members 120 are coupled to support structure 110. For purposes of this disclosure, the term “coupled” means the joining of two members directly or indirectly to one another. Such joining may be stationary in nature or movable in nature. Such joining may be achieved with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate members being integrally formed as a single unitary body with one another or with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate member being attached to one another. Such joining may be permanent in nature or alternatively may be removable or releasable in nature. By way of example, ground-engaging motive members 120 may be coupled to support structure 110 by a suspension system such that support structure 100 is supported relative to each ground engaging motive member. According to an exemplary embodiment, the suspension system is a modular independent suspension system including a coil spring suspension for steerable and non-steerable wheel assemblies and drive and non-drive axles. According to other exemplary embodiments, the suspension system may be any other suitable system (e.g., rigid axles and leaf spring suspension system).
Ground engaging motive members 120 include, for example, wheels (e.g., cast or machined and including rubber or composite tires, etc.), axle and wheel assemblies, or assemblies including articulated tracks (e.g., metal, rubber, composite, etc.), and the like which may be used to maintain support structure 110 above a surface and to allow vehicle 100 to move across the surface. Several configurations of ground engaging motive members 120 are possible (e.g., four, six and eight wheel arrangements, etc.), as commensurate with the type duty that will be experienced by vehicle 100. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, ground engaging motive members 120 include at least two axle and wheel assemblies coupled to support structure 110. A front axle and wheel assembly 122 is coupled to front end 112 of support structure 110, and a rear axle and wheel assembly 124 is coupled to rear end 114 of support structure 110. An optional intermediate axle and wheel assembly 126 is shown coupled to rear end 114 of support structure 110, such that vehicle 100 has a six wheel configuration.
The power source may be mounted to support structure 110 and coupled to at least one of ground-engaging motive members 120 such that it may be driven by the power source. In other embodiments, the power source may be coupled to multiple ground engaging members, such as in an all-wheel drive system. According to an exemplary embodiment, the power source is an internal combustion engine, such as a gasoline or diesel engine. According to other exemplary embodiments, the power source may include a turbine engine, an electric motor, a hybrid-electric system, or the like.
Vehicle body 140 is coupled to support structure 110 and includes a front end 142, and a rear end 144. A vehicle cab 146, including an operator station 148, is typically disposed at front end 142 of vehicle body 140. Any convenient and conventional materials may be utilized to form vehicle body 140, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or a composite material. Vehicle body 140 is configured to at least partially enclose a power source. Vehicle body 140 is also configured to at least partially house one or more fluid or chemical tanks (not shown) mounted to support structure 212. Exemplary fluid tanks may include a water tank, a chemical flame-retardant tank, and the like.
According to an exemplary embodiment shown in
A fluid source can be mounted directly on vehicle 100, such as a fluid tank or chemical tank. The fluid source may also be an independent fluid source, such as a separate trailer structure, a separate tank vehicle, or a fixed fluid source, such as a lake, river, reservoir, tank, public or municipal utility source (e.g., a hydrant coupled to a pressurized fluid source), etc. The independent fluid source may be coupled to vehicle 100 for pumping purposes.
The fluid dispensing arrangement comprises a fluid source and a aerial boom attachment in fluid communication with the fluid source. Fluid communication may be made through a hose and reel assembly. The boom attachment will typically have a motion assembly associated with it for controlling the motion of the boom attachment in both the horizontal and vertical directions. The motion assembly can be controlled either manually or remotely from the vehicle depending on the particular circumstances in which the vehicle is being utilized. The motion assembly will typically include a motor, gears, and levers that will impart controlled motion to the nozzle assembly.
Fire-fighting equipment is typically controlled from operators station 148 within vehicle cab 146. Fire fighting equipment may include, for example, a fluid dispensing nozzle, a video camera, a spotlight, a penetrating probe, and the like.
According to an exemplary embodiment shown in
As shown in
According to an exemplary embodiment, corresponding components of the boom assembly are constructed from a composite material. A composite material is typically a combination of two or more materials that are chemically or mechanically joined at the interface to obtain specific properties that are not available from the individual constituents. According to an exemplary embodiment, the composite material comprises a reinforcement material in a polymeric matrix. The reinforcement will typically have a high strength and high stiffness coupled with a very low density. The reinforcement is chemically or mechanically joined to the matrix material producing an interface that enables a sharing and transfer of load among the composite constituent materials. The combination of reinforcement and matrix give the material a great deal of property tailorability for the application. The reinforcement can come in many forms including, but not limited to, PAN, cellulose, pitch based, or single or multiple wall nanotube carbon fiber. The fiber can be used as a tow (e.g., untwisted bundle of continuous filaments), tape, cross-stitched preform, knitted preform, random fiber mat, braided, truss core fabric preforms, or woven cloth with or without pre-applied matrix material (i.e., prepreg or dry fiber respectively). According to an exemplary embodiment, the reinforcement material may comprise any number of fibers of various volume fractions, and morphologies, in various orientations. The reinforcement could include metallic, carbon, polyester, polyethylene, aramid, nylon, ceramic, quartz, fiberglass, boron, combinations thereof, etc. In addition, hybrid reinforcement where fiber and particulate on a macro, micro, and nano scale are incorporated into the matrix to offer additional tailorability. The particulate may comprise any number of compositions, morphologies and orientations including, metallic, aluminum oxide, silicone carbide, titanium nitride, or combinations thereof, etc. According to an exemplary embodiment, the rigid matrix comprises any number of suitable resins or combination thereof such as thermoset, thermoplastic, polyester, vinyl ester, phenolic, epoxy, combinations thereof, etc. According to an exemplary embodiment, the composite material is a laminated composite which comprises sheets of continuous fiber material layered such that each sheet has the fiber material oriented in a given direction. According to a preferred embodiment, the composite material comprises a carbon fiber based core and a fiberglass coating.
There are many advantages to using composites for the aerial boom assembly and/or other components. For example, composites provide a higher tailorability for a given load case along with higher specific strength (e.g., as much as five times lighter than steel). This tends to reduce energy consumption as well as overall weight, wear, cost, etc. of other components of a system. Some composites are up to three times stiffer than steel. This helps reduce the deflection and deformation of the assembly under stress. The high strength of composite materials tends to help the assembly handle loads without breaking. Further, using composite materials can lead to fewer parts used in the assembly. Composites do not fatigue like steel, nor do they corrode or dent and have improved impact resistance. Furthermore, composites tend to have improved stability over steel under changing temperatures and are more flexible with respect to design needs (e.g., any aerial boom shape could be constructed to meet the particular needs of an application). The composite aerial boom assembly may be produced according to any suitable method. For example, the composite can be filament wound using prepreg or wet winding (e.g., using a monolithic mandrel), placed by hand, placed by a machine, etc. In addition, consolidation of the composite can take place using any suitable method. For example, the composite can be cured by autoclave, vacuum bag, etc. Other processes of manufacture are available such as a resin infusion processes, a resin film infusion processes including, but not limited to, vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM), SCRIMP™ (Siemens Composites Resin Infusion Molding Process), resin transfer molding (RTM), rubber assisted resin transfer molding (RARTM), SPRINT® etc.
As shown in
According to an exemplary embodiment, frame assembly 332 is configured to couple to an aerial boom assembly. The frame assembly 332 can be coupled to the boom assembly by any convenient and suitable manner, for example, nuts and bolts, bands or straps, etc. The frame assembly 332 is composed of frame members 338 forming a lattice-type framework. The frame members 338 can be of any suitable geometric cross section, for example, angle beams, tubes, etc. and composed of any suitable material, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, composite material or a combination of such materials. The frame assembly 332 can be fabricated by individual parts conveniently fastened together with, for example, screws, bolts or welded or adhesives or it can be molded as a single piece. Several removable frame sections 336 are coupled to the frame members 338 for added stability. The removable frame sections 336 can be removed to provide access to components of the aerial boom attachment 330, such as couplings, electrical connections and for maintenance work, etc. The center line of the frame assembly 334 is preferably axially aligned with the boom assembly.
The frame assembly 332 supports the drive train assembly 340 which is mounted on the frame assembly 332. The drive train assembly 340 is axially aligned with the center line of the frame assembly 334 and parallel to the center line.
The drive train assembly includes a drive wheel 350 mounted on a rotational shaft 362. The rotational shaft 362 is coupled to the frame assembly 332 with bearings 366, such as pillow block bearings (see
The drive train assembly 334 includes two opposing actuators, a first actuator 342 and a second actuator 344. The actuators 342, 344 are configured so that one actuator moves in one direction and the other actuator moves in a proportionate opposite direction. The two actuators 342, 344, each have a drive pulley 346, are coupled to the drive wheel 350 by a flexible linkage 348. The flexible linkage 348 can be, for example, a cable, a chain, a belt, etc. It can also be multiple members or a single member.
The actuators 342, 344 can be fluid cylinders, for example, two-way hydraulic cylinders. As illustrated in
The drive train assembly 340 can include an overload relief apparatus 352 integrated in each actuator 342, 344. The overload relief apparatus 352 can be, for example, a relief valve in the cylinder configured to dump the cylinder fluid to tank if a force on the cylinder exceeds a predetermined level. The overload relief apparatus 352 also functions to limit a vertical force on the piercing nozzle assembly 360 as will be explained below.
The piercing nozzle assembly 360 is coupled to the drive train assembly 340. A manifold 368 is mounted on the drive wheel 350. The piercing nozzle assembly 360 is configured for motion in one of the vertical and horizontal plane. In the vertical plane, the motion is provided by rotation of the drive wheel 350 and in the horizontal plane, the motion is provided by movement of the aerial boom assembly. A piercing tube 370 is mounted to the manifold. The piercing tube is hollow and is in fluid communication with the fluid supply 314 through the manifold 368. A piercing nozzle 372 is mounted at the distal end of the piercing tube 370. The piercing nozzle defines a plurality of orifices which allow the fire retardant fluid to pass through. A piercing tip 376 is mounted at the distal end of the piercing nozzle 372 and is configured to allow the tip to penetrate a structure to minimize or prevent the tip from slipping off at a low pierce angle. The piercing nozzle assembly 360 can operate within a predetermined range of positions relative to the center line of the frame assembly 334 and is configured to penetrate a structure even if the piercing nozzle assembly 360 is not in axial alignment with the center line of the frame assembly 334.
As discussed above, the drive train assembly 340 with the opposing actuators 342, 344 and the overload relief apparatus 352 integral with the drive train assembly allow the penetrating nozzle assembly to operate at angles other than 90 degrees to the structure to be penetrated. Once the piercing tip 376 is positioned, as the aerial boom assembly pushes the piercing tube 370 into the structure, the opposing actuators 342, 344 operate to lock the piercing tip 376 into position. The overload relief apparatus 352 relief valves are calibrated to allow a piercing tip movement until just before the piercing tip fails as determined by the manufacturer of the aerial boom attachment 330.
Another embodiment of the aerial boom attachment 330 includes an electronic control system 390 (see
Another embodiment of the aerial boom attachment includes a turret nozzle 380 which is mounted on the frame assembly 332 and is in fluid communication with the fluid supply 314. The turret nozzle 380 is configured to rotate 90 degrees to either side of the center line of the frame assembly 334 and 90 degrees in a vertical plane. The turret nozzle 380 can also be configured to rotate 20 degrees above the center line of the frame assembly 334 and 70 degrees below the center line of the frame assembly 334. The turret nozzle 380 has an independent drive mechanism for moving the turret nozzle as directed by an operator and is provided with position sensors which generate a signal informing the operator as to the orientation of the turret nozzle.
The piercing nozzle assembly is capable of rotating 360 degrees in the vertical plane, 180 degrees above the plane of the boom assembly and 180 degrees below the plane of the boom assembly. The piercing nozzle assembly 360 and the turret nozzle 380 can be coupled independently to the fluid supply 314 or they can be coupled through a common conduit through a diverting valve to direct the flowable fire retardant to either the turret nozzle 380 or the piercing nozzle assembly 360.
The piercing tube 370, piercing nozzle 372 and piercing tip 376 can be interchangeable to accommodate various dimensions as determined by an operator. The overload relief (e.g., protection) apparatus 352 can be adjusted to accommodate the various dimensions of the interchangeable piercing tube, piercing nozzle 372 and piercing tip 376 due to its dimension and material characteristics and to set a maximum allowable force traverse to the axis of the piercing tube without failure of the piercing tube. It should be understood that the drive train assembly 340 moves the piercing nozzle assembly as determined by an operator, however, that the force exerted on the piercing nozzle assembly 360, and particularly the piercing tube 370 through the piercing tip 376 will also move the actuators 342, 344 as the aerial boom assembly pushes the piercing nozzle tip 376 into the structure. The position sensors 392, 394 associated with the actuators 342, 344 provide a signal to the electronic control system 390 thereby allowing the operator to monitor the position of the piercing apparatus and maintain its calibration and index relative to the boom position. Since different piercing tip assemblies are available and interchangeable, the maximum angles at which the piercing tip can penetrate a structure without failure will vary between individual tip designs. Adjusting for such characteristics can be affected through changes in the overload relief apparatus 352 and the type of actuators 342, 344 utilized in the drive train assembly 340.
Piercing nozzle assembly 360 is coupled to end 228 of boom assembly 210 and typically includes an aerial boom attachment 330, a piercing nozzle 372 coupled to aerial boom attachment 330, and a piercing tube 370 coupled to piercing nozzle 372. The aerial boom attachment 330 is configured to control the motion of piercing nozzle assembly 360 in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Aerial boom attachment 330 can be controlled either manually or remotely from the vehicle (e.g., using an operator station) depending on the particular circumstances in which the vehicle is being utilized. Piercing nozzle 372 is typically coupled to a fluid source 314 and is shaped as a frustum with a hollow passage therein and includes a plurality of openings configured to dispense a pressurized fluid or other material from the fluid source. The interchangeable piercing tool 374 is generally configured to penetrate a structure so that piercing nozzle assembly 60 may dispense the pressurized fluid or other material inside the structures.
The fluid source 314 can be mounted directly on the vehicle, such as a fluid tank or chemical tank. The fluid source may also be an independent fluid source, such as a separate trailer structure, a separate tank vehicle, or a fixed fluid source, such as a lake, river, reservoir, tank, public or municipal utility source (e.g., a hydrant coupled to a pressurized fluid source), etc. The independent fluid source may be coupled to the vehicle for pumping purposes.
End 474 includes a cutting edge 478 formed by the intersection of a first surface 480 and a second surface 482 and configured to facilitate the penetration of a structure from a number of different angles without requiring a significantly high degree of perpendicular alignment with the surface of the structure. Cutting edge 478 may have a variety of different configurations depending upon the shape of the intersection of the first surface 480 and the second surface 482. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, the intersection of the first surface 480 and the second surface 482 is circular in shape, which provides an annular cutting edge 478. According to other embodiments, cutting edge 478 is configured as other shapes, such as other elliptical shapes, ovular shapes, many-sided shapes, etc. Cutting edge 478 may have also variety of different configurations depending upon the orientation of the intersection of the first surface 480 and the second surface 482. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, surface 480 and surface 482 intersect in a plane 486 according to an angle θ such that plane 486 is substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis 488 of member 472. According to other exemplary embodiments, different angles and planes of intersection are used to define cutting edge 478.
First surface 480 is a tapered outer surface of member 472, with the surface tapering toward end 474 such that end 474 is narrower in width or diameter than end 476. Surface 480 may be a number of different shapes. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, Surface 480 has the shape of an elliptical frustum having a circular cross section. Other exemplary shapes of surface 480 include frustums or other tapered extrusions having ovular, egg-shaped, or many-sided cross sections, etc.
Second surface 482 defines a cavity 484 within member 472. Second surface 482 and cavity 484 may be a number of different shapes. For example, in the illustrated embodiment, surface 482 is a concave surface such that cavity 484 is shaped as a section of a sphere. Other exemplary configurations of surface 482 and cavity 484 include frustums, conics, cylinders, etc.
End 476 is configured to facilitate the coupling of piercing tool 470 to piercing nozzle assembly 360 shown in
Piercing tool 470 may be formed from various different materials. According to an exemplary embodiment, piercing tool 470 is formed from a durable rigid material. For example, piercing tool 470 may be made from metal, alloys, steel, stainless steel, composites, etc. In addition, according to various other embodiments, piercing tool 470 is optionally coated or plated with a material such as chrome, or heat treated or plated with a hardened coating such as tungsten carbide for wear and corrosion resistance.
Piercing tool 470 may have varying overall size and dimensions based on, for example, the particular piercing application, the thickness and material of the structure to be pierced, the strength of the components to which piercing tool 470 is attached, etc. For example, according to an exemplary embodiment, piercing device 470 is configured to penetrate an aluminum aircraft fuselage and has a length 492 of approximately four inches, a width or diameter 494 of end 474 of approximately three quarters of an inch, a width or diameter 496 of end 476 of approximately one quarter of an inch, and a depth 498 of cavity 484 of approximately one eighth of an inch. According to other exemplary embodiments, these dimensions are varied as applicable.
It is also contemplated that additional tools and apparatus can be mounted on the aerial boom attachment that is appropriate for a given application such as for instance, a video camera, for example, an infrared video camera, a spot or search light, a hose and reel assembly, hydraulic actuated jaws for manipulating metal or such other appropriate tool for use with an aerial boom attachment. Additional modifications will be evident to those with ordinary skill in the art.
It is important to note that the above-described embodiments are illustrative only. Although the assembly has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous modifications are possible without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter described herein. For example, different types of devices and assemblies may be used in addition to or instead of the those described herein. Accordingly, these and all other such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. In the claims, any means-plus-function clause is intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangements of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the scope of the appended claims.