While often seen in the cockpit of military or commercial aircraft, a video game controller, or electric wheelchair, joysticks are a tool used to control machines and heavy equipment such as cranes, trucks, and manufacturing operations. But the joysticks used in those video game controllers are very different from those used to operate massive mining excavators and dump trucks.
Here, we’ll explore joystick controllers in use for heavy duty applications across industrial and commercial sectors.
A Broad Range of Applications
There are a number of joystick applications in which P3 has custom designed joysticks for customers. The following applications cover a few of the industries that require heavy-duty joysticks.
- Construction - Heavy duty joysticks and controllers are often used in construction vehicles and equipment such as bulldozers, road rollers, compactors, loaders, and backhoes. They can either be used to mobilize a vehicle or provide ancillary handling functions such as the backhoe or loader systems of a construction tractor.
- Mining & Excavation - Mining and excavation operations require machinery including excavators, heavy-duty drills, and conveyors that operate in some of the most hazardous conditions. These types of joysticks must be designed with heavy vibrations in mind in order to meet longer lifecycle requirements.
- Medical - Joysticks and controllers are used in hospitals and private practices across a number of applications including simple applications such as the up-down function for operating tables, where the doctor can precisely move the table via a joystick to extremely critical applications like controlling surgical robots. Each of these require a custom solution to meet the medical requirements.
- Manufacturing - Manufacturing including discrete, batch, and process each require different types of equipment and operations. The hazards vary across each of these manufacturing types, meaning that heavy duty joysticks and controllers must be built and developed for each unique application.
- Practical Effects - Practical effects are visual effects used when making movies by using 3D models or figures. In some cases, joysticks can even be used for larger models or even large vehicles such as a multi-axis joystick being used to control the hydraulics system of a boat on a movie set.
In addition to these industries, heavy duty joysticks and controllers are used for more niche applications. In one case, P3 America designed a joystick application that was used for a water cannon at a popular waterpark. Having worked with several original equipment manufacturers, P3 understands which materials are best suited for each type of machinery and maker.
Sourcing Heavy Duty Joystick Controllers
Selecting an appropriate industrial joystick requires a fundamental understanding of the application, where it will be used, and how it will be used by the operator. All of these factors will affect the choice of an appropriate device.
A combination of factors should be considered to ensure that your heavy duty joystick controller aligns with the appropriate application. In some cases, a stock joystick may not be enough to allow the operator to control the machinery or equipment to its full potential. Additional design or custom work should be incorporated for heavy-duty joystick controller use on all types of machinery, cranes, forklifts, construction, oil and gas, forestry, agricultural, and materials handling devices. Applications may, for example, have higher standards for operator comfort for long periods of use. P3 America works with its customers to develop frameworks that help prioritize each of these requirements for your individual application goals.
By incorporating these factors into your project’s design considerations, you may be able to increase the performance ability of your equipment.
- Mission Criticality - If the machine or equipment malfunctions, will the downtime result in a significant operating expense or loss of life? Could water enter through the joystick’s grip and accidently make an unwanted movement resulting in an injury? Increasing protective measures such as na IP 65 rated joystick or higher will reduce the risk of unwanted dirt or water touching the electronics or preventing the shaft from rotating.
- Functionality - Additional movement or positioning allows operators to have greater control over machinery processes. A forklift that can move levers at different angles could improve safety practices and even increase the payload for certain workloads. Having buttons for these types of heavy duty joystick controllers opens up new opportunities with the support of application engineers.
- Human Factor - Many times, the most effective way to improve efficiency and performance is to create a better working environment for the operator. Operators work long hours in tough conditions. Providing ergonomic configurations that reduce the burden on the operator is of critical importance. Getting feedback on joystick design for each application will go a long way in improving not only the productivity of your company’s operations, but the operators’ morale as well.
With these considerations in mind, allocating an additional budget for select features can go a long way in improving the bottom line, worker safety, and operator conditions. P3 America prioritizes your needs. We align custom designs and features with your goals.
Features of Heavy Duty Joystick Controllers
In order to control the various heavy duty equipment and machinery and meet application requirements, industrial joysticks must be able to precisely control, steer, and position itself and any attachments. Systems including agricultural machinery, cranes, oil rigs, forklifts, large vehicles, excavators, military equipment, hoist devices, and other material handling devices can be dangerous if the joystick is not sending accurate signals.
Joysticks for industrial applications offer several motion types for each specific duty. P3 America offers several joystick controllers including: finger, hand grip, thumb, switch only, and spacemouse modules which each offer several customizable features including mounting styles, number of axes, spring return, friction hold, and protocol support. Each of these features are added as a unique element that will deliver great control to the operator. They are then installed in a way that provides seamless integration with the rest of the machinery or operating system.
Future of Joysticks
Electric joystick controllers for heavy duty applications have evolved into a variety of designs with functions built into hand grips which allow operators to perform multiple tasks at once, significantly increasing productivity. Multi-function joysticks are becoming more sophisticated and ergonomic and are being adapted to specific applications across industrial segments.
P3 America is deeply connected with all industries and understands the underlying specifications that will allow operators to perform multiple tasks. Additional accessories can be incorporated into switches on a handgrip coupled to the input shaft of the joystick. Using accessories such as grip-mounted switches helps operators accomplish high-frequency tasks. They no longer need to focus their attention or reposition their body to reach a switch that previously was difficult to reach.
Selecting a Joystick for Your Application with P3 America
While P3 America produces a range of industrial joysticks for heavy duty applications, it distinguishes itself with its services. P3 America’s team of USA-based experts offer a range of application engineering, custom designs, and OEM support for its OEM and operator customers.
P3 America supports OEM's, contract manufacturers, engineering consultants, distributors and suppliers. We work directly with your team to source or engineer the ideal heavy duty joystick controllers for nearly any application. Contact us today for more information or get in touch with one of our USA-based specialists.