Edited by: Mike Santora • Associate Editor
Frankfurt airport. An engine catches fire during a passenger aircraft landing. The alarm goes off in the fire station. Firefighters spring into action, hit the big green button in the crew room and run to their vehicles. Downstairs, they are greeted by airport crash tenders, 12 m long and 3 m wide. The model is known as the FLF Z8, developed and built by Albert Ziegler. Needless to say, technology has come a long way since the company debuted its first firetruck in 1953. “Less than 30 seconds go by from the alarm until the truck rolls out,” said Nils Conrad, team leader for the engineering and development of special vehicles. Electricity and compressed air are supplied to vehicles while in an idle state. Both drive motors are preheated with 1,400 hp in total and the air brake system is open. In less than 21 sec, the FLF Z8 can accelerate its 51-ton weight to 50 mph with a maximum speed of 84 mph. As a result, the vehicle can be anywhere on the airport grounds in less than 3 min.
An articulated extinguishing arm and front cannon can volley up to 10,000 L of water, foam and powder every minute. When there are no headwinds, crew members can stand as far as 90 m from the fire to begin their job of extinguishing the flames. Below the vehicle, a body/ground protection system with several water jets prevents kerosene leaks from damaging the Z8 airport crash tender.
Situated between the Ziegler fire-fighting centrifugal pump driven by a pump motor and the cannons, pneumatic systems and components from Aventics regulate the extinguishing agents.
“The high pump capacity demands powerful pneumatic components with high flow rates and large cylinders,” said Dietmar Huber, the man responsible for the pneumatics in the vehicle’s design. On the Z8 airport crash tender, several of the company’s CD01 and HF03-LG series valve systems control the actuators with up to 12 valves. NL2 series pressure regulators lower filter pressure from 15 to 10 bar when the vehicle is standing in the hall. The valves are actuated in series by the Ziegler PLC.
Ziegler relies on more than the electric remote control for the core functions. “With airport crash tenders, you need reliability and availability that is 100%,” said Huber. “If the electricity fails, the crews can switch to manual emergency operation of the pneumatic valves. That is very important.”
For the PRA series pneumatic cylinders, Ziegler chose corrosion-resistant versions with stainless-steel piston rods and metal scrapers. “We customize every single vehicle to meet our customers’ needs,” said Conrad. Modular pneumatics are convenient in this regard.
Specialists compile the corresponding solutions in the online configurator. They can then send them right back and Huber can view the specifications and CAD data on his computer. Sales specialists review the order and bundle all components for a job into a “pneumatics material kit” with a single order number. All components then arrive at Ziegler in a complete shipment.