When you get into your car, the engine powers the vehicle to get it from one place to another. Other types of vehicles, however, need to generate power to operate outside machines or other implements that perform auxiliary functions of the vehicle. For these circumstances, a power take-off is necessary. Through the activation of the power take-off the clutch, the PTO takes energy from the engine and uses it to power attachments or accessories of the vehicle.

Examples of a PTO in Use

A common example of a PTO is its use in farming equipment. The tilling implements of tractors are powered by a PTO. The reaping components of combine harvesters are powered by PTOs. When you are riding a lawnmower, the engine doesn’t push the mower along. As the power take-off clutch is engaged, its power is connected to the blades that cut the grass.

The farm is not the only place you will see PTOs in use. Professional carpet cleaners use PTO applications to run their industrial vacuums and steamers right out of their trucks. Commercial trucks that use water pumps also need a way to get power from the engine to the pump. Any truck that uses hydraulic power to lift or dump objects can do so because of the PTO redirecting power to these attachments.

Safety in PTO Usage

As with all mechanical devices that have moving parts, safety is an issue with a PTO. It is easy to assume that if the power take off clutch is not engaged then it is safe to handle the part that it powers, but that is not true. The whole vehicle needs to be powered down before any maintenance can be performed. For example, if a tractor is running, go ahead and presume that the blades are functional. Accidents happen when people get careless. It only takes one wrong move at the wrong time to cause injury, dismemberment or even death. Anyone who is going to work on vehicles that use PTOs must have the proper safety training. It is also a good idea to turn the vehicle off and remove the keys from the ignition before any maintenance work begins.

Technology has come a long way to allow an apparatus to take power from a vehicle’s engine and reroute it to the other working parts of the machine. As long as operators and maintenance technicians are well trained and cautious, the PTO can be operated safely.

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Author: Eric Spence

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