ASE Systems Helps Siemens Out of a Tight Spot

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How would you move a 12,000-pound oncology machine? Believe it or not, Siemens of Northern California used brute manpower - that is until ASE Systems developed a cost-efficient air caster system that allowed Siemens to move the system with just one man.

Developing technology for cancer treatments requires sensitive, specialized, and very expensive equipment. Periodically, the Siemens facilities in Northern California - technology experts in the healthcare and energy industries - are required to move their life-saving oncology equipment between testing areas. The 12,000-pound machines were hard to maneuver, especially through tight hallways and around sharp corners.

At first, Siemens dismissed conventional methods for moving their heavy equipment as too expensive, time consuming, or unsafe. Instead, the workers at Siemens continued to push and pull and lug the oncology equipment through the building. That is, until Al Spencer, Senior Sales Consultant at ASE Systems, stepped in with a practical solution to their problem.

After evaluating several possible alternatives, Spencer prescribed a treatment to meet Siemans needs: an air plank system consisting of two aluminum planks with an air caster element at each end. An air caster is a pneumatic lifting device used to float heavy loads - think "hovercraft." In addition, Spencer incorporated automatic flow control valves, a guide wheel, and a power drive.

"As with any job, picking the right tool is paramount to successfully accomplishing the task. Air caster systems can have hundreds of configurations, but we devised a custom system for Siemens to deal with their specific needs." says Spencer.

Why were Siemens' needs so unique? First, Siemens needed a solution that could handle unbalanced loads, as oncology machines are unevenly weighted. Second, the system needed to be able to service multiple versions of the machines. Third, Siemens wanted the oncology instruments to be movable by one man (or woman). Lastly, the load had to be precisely moved throughout facility corridors - en environment often crammed with staff and delicate instruments.

In order to overcome each of these challenges, Spencer used the divide and conquer method - he took each element of the problem, solved it, and combined the solutions to create the optimum air caster system for Siemens.

First, Spencer chose an air plank system that utilizes built-in automatic flow control valves. These valves automatically distribute the compressed air to the air caster elements and make operating the air planks simple - even with unbalanced loads.

Second, Spencer suggested that Siemens use a custom metal pallet to create the ideal interface between the machine and the air plank system; this allowed the air planks to easily service multiple machines.

Third and fourth, Spencer installed a guide wheel and power drive. The guide wheel functioned much like the casters on a shopping cart, lending stability to the system and keeping the load from sliding down slight slopes. The power drive provided complete control of the load being moved; capabilities included steering and a failsafe feature that brings the load to a halt within a few short inches should the operator loose his grip.

Soon, the employees and the corporate officers at Siemens noticed the difference that the air plank system made. Able to float and glide the equipment through the building, rather than huffing and puffing from the exhaustion of physically moving the oncology instruments, ASE Systems' customized solution for Siemens has helped save time, money, and increased worker productivity.

With corporate headquarters located in Austin, Texas, ASE Systems has over 75 cumulative years of experience in the material handling solutions and equipment industry. For more information about ASE Systems customized client options, visit their website at or call 800-245-2163.


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