Mobile electrification systems provide power to moving vehicles and equipment in a variety of manufacturing, material handling, processing, and transit applications. They are used to power automated guided vehicles (AGV), automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/AR), mobile hoists, cranes, buses, trolleys, and trains. Both indoor and outdoor mobile electrification systems are available. Most models include a sturdy rail and one or more conductors. In harsh environments, stainless steel caps are installed over the conductors and an attached air mover is used to prevent the ingress of fumes and dust. In transit applications where battery-powered vehicles remain stationary at periodic intervals, opportunity-charging mobile electrification systems are often used. Both direct contact and inductive charging systems are commonly available. With non-contact power systems, power is induced magnetically into the load.
There are many types of mobile electrification systems. Basic conductor rail systems incorporate the current conductor into a rail along which powered components move. Often, transit rail systems use an extremely rigid conductor rail designed specifically for applications such as subways, elevated trains and monorails. Enclosed conductor systems house multiple conductors in a protective casing that meets safety standards such as the National Electric Code (NEC). Trench conductors are located underground and have protective plates that lift or retract with the movement of the powered element. Mobile electrification systems that incorporate hydraulic or pneumatic lines for power tools and lifts hoists are also available. For example, cable festoon systems are mobile supports for pneumatic lines that allow the cable to move with a hoist, trolley, or other mobile equipment. Typically, a spring-powered or motorized reel is used to store and extend the electrical power cable.
Selecting mobile electrification systems requires an analysis of electrical specifications and special features. The number of conductors equals the number of power or data channels. Simpler systems contain a single conductor while complex models include up to tens of thousands of conductors. Current capacity is the maximum current rating of the conductors in the system. Voltage capacity is the maximum voltage rating of the conductors. In terms of features, some mobile electrification systems contain copper conductors or can transmit both data and power to the moving element. Others include slip rings that incorporate rotating contacts and allow for the transmission of current and/or data between stationary and rotating components. Systems that are designed to operate in high-temperature conditions associated with manufacturing or processing applications are also available.