Remote Control of a Machine Handwheel Project

Montreal, Canada

Electrical Engineering Meets Safety

A large safety guard that was installed by Ferndale Safety around a vertical turret lathe (VTL), caused an important machine handwheel to become inaccessible. Ferndale Safety’s team of mechanical and electrical engineers replaced the handwheel with a remote control that could turn make fine to coarse adjustments.

What is a vertical lathe?

A vertical lathe works much like a standard lathe, turned on its side. A vertical lathe can also be called a vertical turning lathe or vertical turret lathe (VTL).

What is a vertical lathe?

Ferndale Safety was tasked with installing a safety guard around a vertical turret lathe. It was clear that the machine’s handwheel was no longer going to be accessible after the safety guard was installed. One of the challenges that Ferndale Safety’s engineering team had was the handwheel location. The handwheel would move with the column and turret – and would never be in the same position at any given time. Ferndale Safety suggested to the client that the best solution was to design a remote control system custom-designed for this machine’s handwheel. The client loved the idea and had Ferndale Safety design and implement the remote control system.

Remote Control Pendant

Ferndale Safety chose to use as many off-the-shelf components like this control pendant to reduce final costs. The remote control includes an enabling button to prevent accidental movement, and a speed adjustment to allow for very fine or coarse adjustments.

Vertical turret lathe with safety guard around the chuck.
The photo of the machine after work was completed. Behind the blue guard, the remote handle mechanism is seen, with the pendant attached to the guard in the foreground.
The Manual Handwheel
The Manual Handwheel

The manual handwheel had a scale on the side to allow for precise movements of the handwheel. The handwheel is used for manual movements of the machine during the setup process.

The Remote Handwheel
The Remote Handwheel

The electrical version of the manual handwheel used a motor and timing belt system to allow for precise movements. This was controlled with a remote control pendant.