The Timken Company announced today that its highly engineered tapered roller bearings will play a key role in transporting 126-ton high-precision antennae into the Chilean Andes, where a radio telescope array will enable scientists to observe some of the oldest galaxies. The Timken(R) bearings are installed in the wheel-sets of two giant modular transporters designed by Scheuerle Fahrzeugfabrik GmbH of Germany for moving the telescope antennae.
The 1400-horsepower, heavy-duty Scheuerle transporters will be used to erect 66 radio telescopes on the site of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observatory, which is being built by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and its partners. The $900 million project is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
The transporter has passed tests for the arduous journey up more than 16,000 feet to the Chajnantor plateau in the Atamaca desert. Gradients of up to 10 percent have to be overcome in rough terrain. The transporter's wheel-set design plays a critical role. Fourteen sets of two-wheeled assemblies move independently, giving the transporter the appearance of a giant centipede. After carrying the heavy equipment to its destination, the transporter also will position and align the radio-telescope array with pinpoint accuracy in each case.
The wheel-sets use performance-enhanced Timken(TM) tapered roller bearings, made from case-hardened steel and engineered specifically to the application. Contributing significantly to the heavy haulers' smooth and reliable operation, the bearings are designed to meet extreme performance demands arising from the substantial kinetic and braking forces that occur in an infinite variety of steering positions.
"As well as offering excellent capacity performance and reliability, Timken's engineering support in drafting and finalizing the design was a key factor in favor of Timken's solution," said Andreas Kohler, Scheuerle development manager.
"We used our unique knowledge of friction management to design a bearing that would meet Scheuerle's requirements for this rugged application. These customized solutions are how we add value for customers," said Michael J. Connors, Timken President - Process Industries. "Because Timken's solution enables an important scientific undertaking to move forward, this success is especially meaningful for us as an engineering company."