Here at Inuktun HQ, we’ve recently redesigned our Microtrac™ crawler tracks and, with all the options available, we figured it was about time to discuss how to choose the right Microtrac™ for your OEM application. You already know the benefits of tracks over wheels, and how to choose the right track material, so let’s dive in (track on?).
Microtracs™ are modular transporter units built to perform in the harshest environments commonly found in nuclear, oil and gas, petrochemical, municipal sewer, potable water, mining and numerous other sectors. With their small footprint and big depth capability, Microtracs™ offer a reliable method for transporting tools and technology into very small spaces while still delivering the traction and pull rating you’d expect from a larger vehicle.
Inuktun’s latest 4000 series Microtracs™ are offered in two different control types: direct drive, where the motor is directly connected to an external drive, or an embedded version, with the driver and controls built inside the track.
If your equipment will be working in high radiation areas or similar environments where electronics are subject to a lot of interference, or if you simply need to use your own servo motor drive circuitry, direct drive is the best option. These robust tracks are operated with a simple control system that doesn’t require a computer setup. Simply apply a voltage and voila… away they go! And, because of the simple design, direct drive Microtracs™ are less expensive (although your overall system price might be higher!).
The embedded control Microtracs™ offer additional flexibility and sophistication that makes them more suitable to most OEM projects. They come with a wide voltage input range (24-72 VDC) and digital (RS-485) control communications. The built-in microprocessor can be used in closed-loop mode, where speed is maintained very accurately using the motor encoder, or in open-loop mode, where the track is simply given a proportional voltage to control the movement. And, because of the modular interface design, multiple tracks can be chained together on the same power and communication system to create all sorts of new and novel vehicle configurations. There is no need to provide bulky, expensive motor drivers and, maybe best of all, the embedded Microtracs™ are fully compatible with the ICON Software Suite; we even offer a free version for OEMs to test with any of the Inuktun micro-controlled products.
Both the direct drive and embedded control versions of the 4000 series Microtracs™ are available in a higher gear ratio version that provides more torque and more precise speed control (although the maximum speed is reduced). Or, when you have a special requirement, let us know – we can always customize the tracks to suit your needs. We have created customer-specific versions that incorporate different motors (brushless or stepper motors), extra-long versions (shown in gallery to right), and even customized belts to provide improved traction on slippery surfaces. Wherever you need to go, whatever you need to carry… think of Inuktun like that friend with a truck… we’ll help you move!
Check out this story about how Inuktun crawler tracks drive Fukushima robots, and learn how Microtracs™ power the VT100 Vertical Crawler™ for inspecting compressor pipes in the North Sea.