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What is power take off (PTO)?

Power take-offs (PTOs) are an attachment connected to large vehicles (such as trucks, harvesters and tractors) as a power source for a range of accessories including mowers, wood chippers, water pumps, compressors, and a range of farm equipment like balers.

PTOs convert the rotating engine power into hydraulic power. The PTO flywheel / crankshaft connection passes the vehicle’s engine to the driveline which connects it to the accessory (a universal joint may also be needed to make the connection complete, depending on the accessory).

Two different types of PTOs available are Split Shaft and Sandwich Split Shaft.

With the Split Shaft there is an extra gearbox and you can only use the PTO when the vehicle is stationary. You can switch between the power source (e.g. tractor engine) and the PTO using the clutch, which disconnects the drive shaft.

The other type is the Sandwich Split Shaft, which is mounted between the truck transmission and the engine, creating more power, particularly useful for heavy duty applications that require more horsepower.

Different applications include using a PTO to raise the bed on a dump truck, power a leaf blower, drive the winch on a tow truck or inflate pneumatic tyres using a compressor. The power take-off is a very useful accessory for commercial vehicles and offers a huge variety of configurations.

Before using a PTO, you will need to know the ratio requirement of the accessory you are planning on using to make sure the revolutions from the output shaft are right. It’s also important the shaft has the correct number of splines (or teeth) for the accessory.

For improved management of your PTO accessories, fleet tracking software is available to monitor PTO use. This can help with monitoring key fleet metrics including identifying unproductive idling, which can help reduce fleet fuel costs.

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