A trusted and proven supplier in military aircraft air-to-air refuelling, the customer was presented with a major challenge. When the in-flight refuelling equipment was serviced on the ground, the heavy-duty fuel hose had to be rewound via a manually operated handle. This process was arduous, time consuming and potentially unsafe. In a high pressure and time-critical military environment such as this, it became apparent that a faster, safer and auto-controlled means of winding the fuel hose needed to be found.
Experience showed us that we would need to design a totally bespoke unit to handle a very specific set of requirements. Not surprisingly in a military environment there are some fairly rigorous specifications that would need to be met for any proposed solution to be compliant. It would have to operate at standard military ground supply voltage of 24V-29V. It needed to be fully functional from several degrees below freezing up to 55°C + to cover all operating conditions. For safety reasons also, it would need to be operated remotely.
To devise a solution, we called on all the experience and expertise our Innovation Hub had to offer. The resulting OTMS actuator delivered an amazing 230Nm force with an output speed of 75-85rpm – all in a compact unit weighing under 15 kg. It was able to operate at the correct 24V-29V power supply and functioned in the most testing of conditions from -25°C to +60°C. OTM added remote control operation via a 10 metre cable for increased user safety.
Reducing manual input to the winding process significantly reduced operator workload. The remote- control capability instilled a far greater user situation awareness during deployment which improved safety immeasurably.
Robust enough to have now been in service for over 20 years, to our knowledge, the winder has never experienced a mechanical failure and is now in full service in a number of Air Force units throughout the world.
But there is always scope for improvement and with the OTMS Innovation Hub always on call in-house we were able to upgrade and improve the actuator even after the initial deployment. Through listening to the customers’ feedback, we have developed a fully upgraded version to replace certain obsolete and non-compliant components and materials. The new upgrade now benefits from: