This disclosure is directed to a service center, and more particularly, to a rack-mounted service center having a separately removable housing.
Construction, excavation, and vocational-type machines such as wheel loaders, off-highway haul trucks, motor graders, cement mixers, paving machines, and other similar machines typically include an engine system, a tool system, an electrical system, and many other types of systems. Each of these systems include serviceable components that require periodic maintenance or diagnostic testing. For example, engine systems can require periodic fluid level checks, flushing, replacement, and top-offs; periodic belt inspection, tightening, and replacement; filter inspection, cleanings, and replacements; hose inspections tightening and replacements; and many other related service tasks. Similarly, the tool system generally includes a hydraulic circuit driven by the engine and, thus, requires periodic fluid, hose, and filter-related maintenance tasks. Components of the electrical control system also require periodic cleaning, diagnostics, and replacement. In order to facilitate timely and convenient service of these components, commonly serviced components are often clustered together. The clustered components are referred to as a service center or a service center module.
Typically, the service center module includes a housing. In addition to enclosing the components to protect them from the environment, the housing also provides access to the components through a door in the housing. The housing additionally functions as a mounting surface for the components. That is, the housing is generally rigidly connected to a frame of the machine, and the components are connected to internal walls of the housing.
Although the service center module described above may adequately co-locate commonly accessed components and protect them from the environment, it may inadvertently increase service difficulty of these components. Specifically, after all of the components have been mounted to the internal walls of the housing, access to the components, particularly those components mounted to a back wall of the housing, may be difficult. This access may be even more difficult when a large tool is required to service the components housed in the service center. Since access to the components is only provided by a single door in the housing, those components located closest to the door must often be removed in order to access the components located farthest from the door.
One way to improve access to clusters of serviceable components is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,543,562 (the '562 patent) issued to Repko et al. on Apr. 8, 2003. Specifically, the '562 patent discloses an earth moving machine having a frame that supports an engine and a radiator. A service center module is positioned between the engine and the radiator, with all three (engine, radiator, and service center module) being housed by a common engine enclosure. The service center module has a support member, a support plate on an upper surface of the support member, a back plate that is perpendicular to the support plate, and at least one mounting location on the back plate for mounting one or more components that require routine maintenance such as an air tank, an ether aid, an air dryer, or a transmission filter. The central service center module increases maintenance efficiency by collocating components, which may require routine maintenance, in a single easily accessible location.
To maintain the service center of the '562 patent, a mechanic removes all of the components at one time by disconnecting the components of the service center module from their respective lines and then removing the entire service center module and the attached components. By removing and replacing the service center module and all of the attached components, the components requiring replacement or maintenance may be replaced or serviced in an environmentally clean area.
Although the service center module of the '562 patent may improve serviceability of a machine by collocating components within a large common enclosure and providing the ability to remove the entire cluster of components for service, access to the module may still be less than optimal. Specifically, because the service center module is located within the common engine enclosure, access to only the service center may be cumbersome due to the large hood generally associated with the engine enclosure and the requirement to remove the entire cluster assembly. Furthermore, because the access is provided through the general engine enclosure, each time the service center module is maintained the entire engine enclosure must be opened and exposed to the local environment, thereby providing opportunities for debris to enter, collect on, and possibly contaminate the engine. Additionally, by locating the service center module within the engine enclosure, it may be possible for fluids from the service center to leak onto engine components during servicing.
The service center module of the present disclosure solves one or more of the problems set forth above.
In one exemplary aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a service center for use with a machine having a frame. The service center may include a mounting member rigidly connected to the frame of the machine, and a plurality of serviceable components connected to and supported by the mounting member. The service center may also include a housing connected to at least one of the frame of the machine and the mounting member. The housing may be configured to substantially enclose the plurality of serviceable components.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In another aspect, the present disclosure is directed to a method of servicing a plurality of machine components. The method may include removing an enclosure to access the plurality of machine components on at least three sides while the plurality of machine components remain rigidly mounted. The method may also include servicing the plurality of machine components.
FIG. 1 is a pictorial representation of an exemplary disclosed vehicle;
FIG. 2 is a pictorial representation of an exemplary disclosed service center for use with the vehicle of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is another pictorial representation of the exemplary disclosed service center of FIG. 2.
An exemplary embodiment of a mobile vehicle is illustrated in FIG. 1. In this embodiment, the vehicle is a machine 100 including a front end 102, a rear end 104, a frame 106, and an operator's station, such as an enclosed operator's cab 108. The front end 102 may include a work implement 110, for example a bucket. The rear end 104 may include an engine compartment 114 that may house an engine, a transmission, and/or other components used to power the machine 100. The engine may drive one or more ground engaging drive mechanisms, such as wheels 112, attached to support frame 106 in a manner known in the art. Machine 100 may also include a service center module 116, connected to frame 106 and containing a plurality of serviceable components (not shown in FIG. 1).
The frame 106 may be configured to provide structural support and integrity to machine 100. As used herein, the frame 106 may refer to any component that is generally secured in a fixed position on the machine 100. In one embodiment, the frame 106 may structurally connect the front end 102 to the rear end 104.
The enclosed operator's cab 108 may be supported on the frame 106. The operator's station could alternatively be open and may comprise any location from which an operator can control the machine 100. The operator's station may include controls for operating and driving the machine 100. One such control may include a parking brake to selectively inhibit movement of the wheels 112.
As illustrated in FIG. 2, the service center module 116 may consist of a rack 332 and a removable housing 218 containing the plurality of serviceable components. Housing 218 may be bolted to the rack 332 and/or to frame 106. A door 219 may provide access to the components while housing 116 remains rigidly connected. Alternatively or additionally access to the components may be had by completely removing (i.e. disconnecting) housing 218. Housing 218 may be maintained disconnected from the plurality of serviceable components.
Referring to FIG. 3, the rack 332 may be formed by a plurality of rigid mounting members 330. The rigid mounting members 330 of the service center module 116 may rigidly connect to the frame 106 and/or to neighboring rigid mounting members to form rack 332. Individual components may be mounted to the rack 332 or, more specifically, to the rigid mounting members 330. In one exemplary embodiment, the plurality of rigid mounting members 330 may fasten securely to a back plate 340, which may then be fastened to the frame 106 of machine 100. In addition to a back plate 340, the plurality of rigid mounting members 330 may also consist of a top 334, bottom 338, and two sides 336, to which housing 218 and components 320-326 may securely fasten.
Various serviceable components may be supported by the service center module 116. In one embodiment, the service center module 116 may support a transmission oil filter 324, a hydraulic oil filter 326, a hydraulic tap 322, and an air dryer 320. Each of these components may require periodic inspection and maintenance. The transmission oil filter 324 and the hydraulic oil filter 326 may be attached directly to the rigidly mounted member 330 and may be replaced after for example, each 1000 hours and 500 hours of machine operation, respectively. Hydraulic tap 322, connected directly to rigid mounting members 330, may provide an access point for routine inspection of hydraulic oil quality. Finally, air dryer 320, mounted to the rigid mounting member 330, may absorb water from compressed air and may require periodic draining and/or replacement.
- INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY
In addition to or instead of the components mentioned above, the service center module 116 may contain other components. For instance, the service center 116 may contain components such as an air accumulator, electrical switches, batteries, belts, and other commonly serviced components. To service these components it may be necessary to remove the housing 218. Removal of the housing 218, by a service technician may require removal of the fasteners which attach the housing to the frame. With the housing 218 removed, the service technician may have access to components in the service center 116.
The service center 116 disclosed herein may be applied to various types of machines that have serviceable components. The service center module 116 may provide improved accessibility to the commonly serviced components through a door 219 or by providing a removable housing 218. That is, door 219 can be opened or the housing 218 can be completely removed to expose the components without having to disconnect or remove any of the components.
A method for maintaining the serviceable components 320-326 of service center module 116 will now be described. In order to access serviceable components 320-326 of service center module 116, a service technician may open the door 219 in the housing or completely remove the housing 218 by unbolting the housing 218 from the plurality of rigid mounting members 330. Complete removal of the housing 218 may allow access to up to 5 sides of service center module 116, while the plurality of serviceable components 320-326 remain mounted to the mounting member 330 and while mounting member 330 remains rigidly connected to frame 106. Additionally, rigid mounting member 330 may be removed from the frame 106, while connected to serviceable components 320-326. Furthermore, it may also be possible for removal of service center 116 while housing 218 remains connected to rack 332. Upon removal of at least one element of the housing 218, the service technician may be able to inspect or replace various serviceable components 320-326.
In one instance, after removing all or part of housing 218, the service technician may change the transmission oil filter 324 or the hydraulic oil filter 326. In another instance, the service technician may examine the quality of hydraulic oil by examining a sample from the hydraulic oil tap 322. Any of these maintenance tasks may be made faster and easier by utilizing the rack mounted service center 116. Furthermore, service can be carried out without exposing the engine to possible contamination from the service center 116.
Since service center 116 may be isolated from the engine compartment 114 several benefits may be provided. First, the service center 116 may not be exposed to the engine compartment environment. Exposure to the engine compartment environment may include exposure to heat, fuel, oil, and exhaust. Engine compartment environment exposure may have an undesired affect on any of service center components 320-326. The cumbersome process of opening engine compartment 114 may no longer be required for maintenance and inspection of service center components 320-326. Additionally, since the service center components 320-326 are no longer located inside of engine compartment 114, the engine and its components may not be subjected to the ambient environment during maintenance or inspection of service center module 116.
An additional benefit of the rack mounted service center module 116 may be the ease of accessibility. Specifically, housing 218 can be quickly and completely removed to fully expose and provide access to serviceable components 320-326. The ability to quickly access the service center module 116 may reduce the time a service technician spends on maintenance, repair, and inspection of the components in the service center module 116.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the service center, without departing from the scope of the disclosure. Other embodiments of the disclosed service center will be apparent to this skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope being indicated by the following claims and there equivalents.