An Introduction To Pneumatic Tubes
One of the most interesting and innovative forms of transportation in the modern age is pneumatic tubes from companies like TH Hammerl Inc. These devices are capable of moving solid objects from one point to another with relative ease, while maintaining low maintenance fees and requiring very little effort. In case you are interested on learning, here is a bit of background on pneumatic tubes:
How do they work?
In order to use pneumatic transportation, you must set up a network of pipes, somewhat similar to a plumbing system. However, the key difference from a plumbing system is that a pneumatic tube system is kept in a vacuum state to reduce resistance. In this vacuum, solid materials can be propelled a great distance with only a small force acting on them, such as a burst of air.
In practice, this means that there are a series of tubes which travel throughout the walls of a building or between multiple buildings. There are various entry points located in this system, which are accessible in different rooms. To operate the system, you must open the insertion section, place the solid object inside the tube, and then close the tube. You can then send this tube to another insertion section, where it can be removed by either you or another person.
Why use pneumatic tubes?
Pneumatic tubes are not suited for moving objects outside of a very small tolerance range and they are unable to cost-efficiently move items over long distances. So why use them at all?
Their niche lies in industries that need to move small, uniform items very rapidly within a building or complex, such as hospitals. A hospital might need to move a medication or tool very rapidly across several floors, and a pneumatic tube system is exponentially faster than physically walking the package to its destination. Mail sorting centers are also popular locations for pneumatic tube systems due to their need to sort and move packages within a small vicinity. Tubes might be used to organize small, medium, and large packages for tracking and cataloging purposes.
What is the future of pneumatics?
A great deal of research and money has gone into scaling up pneumatics to aid in mass transit. Some prototype trains and subways have been tested in pneumatic tubes which would theoretically reduce costs while increasing speed. Fuel would be much more efficient, while the vehicle would be able to reach its destination much faster due to lack of air resistance. However, cheap pneumatics tubes on that scale are a long way off.