Foward-Thinking Solutions

November 11, 2014

Hybrid crops such as corn and soybeans have been used for several decades to improve yields, quality, weather resistance, etc. Within the past decade, hybrid automobiles using various combinations of gasoline engines and electric motors have become very popular as a way to not only increase mileage, but to reduce harmful emissions. Hybrid stereo equipment, using a combination of transistors and vacuum tube technology, is claimed to improve upon the sound quality compared to each used individually. In all of these cases a hybridization of two or more varieties or technologies has been used to produce a new and improved end result.

Over the years United Equipment Accessories (UEA) has produced many different varieties of hybrid cable reels and slip ring assemblies combining different technologies in one package. Cable reels have been built with pneumatic lines included and with fiber optic swivels. Slip ring assemblies have been combined with potentiometers, encoders, pneumatic swivels, and most recently with hydraulic or other fluid swivels.

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UEA electric shift controls have been used for many years for electrified transmissions including those on airport ground equipment such as tugs, luggage loaders, etc. Less than three years ago, a UEA sales representative contacted a manufacturer of airport ground support equipment to determine their possible need for cable or hose reels or possibly shift controls. This OEM was found to be using an industry standard, single-lever cable shifter but extensively modifying the control for usage on their all- electric tugs. Not only did they not require the cable for shifting a transmission but they needed to modify the mounting bracket to install additional switches for reverse alarms, etc. In this instance the customer was more than willing to look at, and test, a prototype ‘hybrid’ shift control from UEA but was reluctant to change the basic look, feel and mounting pattern of their original shifter. With a little design work the rotary switch, as used on many UEA electric shift controls, was adapted for use on the UEA cable shift control, which has the same overall general appearance, lever feel and mounting pattern as this customer’s original units. This new design incorporates the same linkage to operate the rotary switch as used to operate a slide switch on the cable shifter control. Once prototyped and tested the customer was delighted with the operation of the control, the fact that they no longer had to buy extra switches or modify the unit to install the switches, and that appearance and mounting were so similar to what their customers were accustomed to using and for retro-fitting.

Custom products and solutions, including hybrids, are a way of life at UEA whether it is for slip rings, cable reels, or shift controls.

Ryan Tradel
Design Tech. – Engineering


The RCQL30 Shift Control

October 25, 2013

UEA test stand with prototype under test.

UEA test stand with prototype under test.

UEA is proud to introduce our newest shifter, the RCQL30.  When a customer came to us asking for a replacement shifter that could be used in the air transport and ground handling industry, we started a design from the inside out.  The other replacement shifters, and original shifters for that matter, were never designed for the rigorous every day use that the RCQL30 can handle.  That is why we use a more robust switch, a stronger engineered rubber bushing and wear materials better suited for this specific application.  While some companies use metal on metal wear parts, we’ve designed a plastic gate pattern that both lasts longer than a handle rubbing against a steel gate and is more easily replaceable.   The shifter has been through rigorous testing on both UEA’s custom pneumatic test stand and years of in the field testing.

Also included on the shifter are features such as a lighted position indicator and ideal RCQL30SPP1-23‘feel’ for the shift. The RCQL30 can directly replace the Tug model MA series and Tiger Models TIG 40, 50, and 60 Tractors. We have designed a superior product that is made in the U.S.A. and competitively priced.  If you have a need for your ground handling equipment or any other need for an off road shifter, give UEA a call and our engineering staff will be happy to work with you to get the right shifter for your application.

Kyle Riegel

Design Engineer

New Aftermarket Wind Slip Ring Solves Challenges

July 1, 2013

United Equipment Accessories has recently designed a new and improved slip ring for the Wind Ringaftermarket Clipper wind turbine. The new design has many improvements that make it more robust, improve the sealing, remove the external wiring exposure and enhance the communication circuits.

With unknown and varying vibrations from turbine to turbine as well as the rugged handling which the slip rings are exposed to, the new ball bearing design dramatically improves the life of the bearings over the original design.

The new stainless steel clam shell cover design improves the sealing in comparison to the cylindrical sleeve design. This new design also allows for removal of wind ring1the cover for inspection or maintenance while keeping oil and other harmful elements out of the slip ring.

The original slip ring design had external conduit with wiring to the upper harness connection points. The new design has eliminated the external harness conduits, integrated the new upper harness connection points into the top plate of the enclosure and eliminates Wind Ring2the bulky exposed parts that were often damaged in handling during the installation process.

Due to the harsh and sometimes unknown environments within the wind turbines, the communication circuits have been enhanced to improve the reliability in these environments. The silver graphite brushes now ride on coin silver rings that are much more resistant to corrosion. This results in more reliable communication.

Josh Bockholt

Sr. Designer – Engineering


Shift Control Technology

June 20, 2011

Here at UEA we are actively growing our shift quadrant technologies and broadening our application horizons.  To steal a line from a favorite childhood TV series, shift quadrants-there’s more than meets the eye.  The controls in a piece of equipment, be it a car, tractor, crane or anything else is the defining interface between Man and machine.  A consistent and reliable ‘feel’ for how the machine reacts to our input is what allows us to adapt to the machines capabilities, and overtime increase efficiency and reduce wear and tear on the equipment.

I recall running a Bobcat Skid-steer at a golf course a number of years back.  This particular piece of machinery was very old and beat up.  The hydraulic controls had lost all of its ‘feel’.  Moving the bucket up and down and rolling it forward was painful, as it either moved at full speed or not at all.  This increased fatigue on the operator, and wear on the machine.  Compare that to more modern equipment with advanced controls and feedback, the operator can almost become one with the machine.  Designing a ‘feel’ into our shift controls is something that we take seriously at UEA.

Another aspect of shift controls that takes more forethought on the design end is how we perceive the control should function.  I am sure we can all agree that when we are trying to operate something that we are not familiar with it can be very frustrating when a control appears to twist, pull or slide in a certain direction, only to find its real operation is completely un-intuitive.  When a shift quadrant is designed here at UEA, intuitiveness is fundamental to the overall design.  We strive to make our controls simple, intuitive, and robust.  You can count on UEA to provide you with shift controls that will hold up to years of trouble free service.

-Brady Haugo, Engineer

Reflections of Progress (shift controls, cable carriers) Part 2

July 16, 2010

Our first CNC was a small, though it seemed large to us at the time, vertical machining center.  This machine could speed through drilling, tapping and milling operations much faster and more repeatable than could ever be imagined on the multiple drill presses that previously executed these functions.  The next addition was a pair of machines.  A larger vertical machining center and a CNC lathe with live tooling. The lathe changed the way we looked at many of our common operations.  This machine allowed us to complete secondary operations on a part without the need to transfer the part to another machine and we could do things that were not even possible with our previous equipment.  One operator + one machine + one handling of the part + multiple operations = higher efficiency and better throughput.  We later added another similar lathe to increase capacity.

Two Computerized Numerical Controlled Live Tooling Lathes

Two CNC Live Tooling Lathes

The next major update came with the addition of a horizontal machining center with an automatic pallet changer.  This piece of equipment became a necessity due to our entry into the wind turbine slip ring market. The ability to be loading one pallet with parts while the other pallet is being machined keeps the productivity of the cutting tool at its highest possible level.  This machine also added the capability to machine on three sides of the part in one clamping.  This has eliminated having to clamp parts in four different positions to complete all operations. It is now done with two positions and with much higher accuracy than before.

Horizontal Machining Center with Automatic Pallet Changer

Horizontal Machining Center with Automatic Pallet Changer

Automatic Pallet Changer Loading Station

 Automatic Pallet Changer Loading Station

Dual Spindle Dual Turret Live Tool Lathe

Our latest addition is a dual spindle dual turret live tool lathe.  This new piece is basically two lathes built in one cabinet end to end such that one spindle can actually move over and grab a partially finished part from the other spindle to do work on the back side.  This allows the machine to be cutting on two parts simultaneously.  In effect, two machines in one footprint.  Due to our rapidly filling floor space, this is a serious consideration at present.

With the advances that I have witnessed in the last 2 decades, I can’t wait to see what the next decade will bring.

Kent Davis

Design Engineer

Reflections of Progress (slip rings, cable reels) Part 1

July 16, 2010

Throughout the 20+ years that I have been employed at United Equipment Accessories I have seen some things change substantially, and have seen other things that continue to remain the same.

In the realm of the manufacture of electrical slip rings, cable reels and shift controls, the basic principal of creating  sound, reliable and durable products that consistently outperform the competition has remained the top priority at United Equipment Accessories.  Meanwhile, the processes and equipment used to achieve this end goal has evolved dramatically.  The production of electrical slip rings at UEA involves several operations that tend to be specialized.  In the past these operations were sometimes completed with the combination of workers with special skill sets or custom built equipment, or a combination of the two.  Over the years I have been involved the design and building of several of these specialized machines.  As technology has advanced in the marketplace of CNC (computerized numerical controlled) machinery, several of these specialized or “purpose built” machines have been replaced by more standardized CNC machines that can perform the functions of the old machines as well as in some cases also perform additional “bonus” functions, and do it all in equal or less time than was required by the specialized equipment.  It can be a little bit of a mixed emotion to see one of these old machines that was designed and built in house and worked so well in the past be pushed to the store room or scrapped when a new CNC machine arrives.  But this is overcome when you see the new capabilities being utilized to do operations and make parts in ways that weren’t possible just a few short years before.