The term monorail or industrial monorail is used to describe any number of systems in which a chair or carrier is suspended from an overhead rail structure for the limited transportation of goods or workers. The track of industrial monorail consists of a beam (guideway), not a "single rail" as is commonly thought and as opposed to the traditional track with two parallel rails.
The first Mono-Rail Transporter was sold in 1949 and since then many have gone for use in all parts of the world. It is patented in 48 countries, spread over all five continents. Modern monorails depend on a large solid beam as the vehicles' running surface. There are two broad classes, straddle-beam and suspended monorails. There is a form of suspended monorail developed by the French company SAFEGE in which the train cars are suspended beneath the wheel carriage. In this design the carriage wheels ride inside the single beam.
The I-Beam suspended monorail is the most common monorail in the world. But the I-beam transit monorails are not found everywhere, they are found in the I-Beam industrial monorail. The simplicity of the design, a guideway the shape of a common steel I-Beam with a traveling conveyance suspended below, is used for everything from butcher shops to laundries for the underground transport of man and material in non-explosive atmospheres.
Transit I-Beam monorails would seem to be a logical extension of the industrial monorail. But this type of monorail has been relegated to
amusement centers and fairs. It's an I-Beam monorail that carries miniature guests in pirate ships floating through the air of Peter Pan's ride at the Disney parks. One of the most famous I-Beam monorails operated for only two years was at the New York World's Fair of 1964-65. Arrow supplied the monorail stations in Las Vegas with a suspended I-Beam monorail for a short unsuccessful run in the early 1990's. Today, Titan Global Systems is the only company that is still active in the promotion of the I-Beam monorail.
The other common type of monorail in use today is the straddle-beam monorail, in which the train straddles a reinforced concrete beam in the range of two to three feet wide. A rubber-tired carriage contacts the beam on the top and both sides for traction and to stabilize the vehicle. The straddle-beam style was popularized by the German company ALWEG. Seattle Monorail is their doing.
Industrial monorail lifts and positions work along a fixed path. A modern industrial monorail system can work automatically. When it gets to the end of the track a block stops the train, tips the wagon, reverses the loco and sets it off back down the line. Monorails as well as overhead cranes free up valuable floor space for production. Using monorails improve employee comfort and productivity, reduce production costs and time and improves safety.
Monorails today are powered by electric motors fed by dual third rails, contact wires or electrified channels attached to or enclosed in their