12 April, 2024

Smart solutions for construction machinery

22 March, 2017

Key spokespeople from British Fluid Power Association member companies Parker Hannifin, Bosch Rexroth and Eaton Hydraulics, discuss some of the latest technology trends within the construction sector, and the benefits these developments afford OEMS and end users.

Within the construction sector, technology is constantly being developed and enhanced by equipment providers to satisfy ever more stringent OEM and user demands, as well as meet changing legal requirements.

John Taylor, product manager, Eaton Hydraulics, explains that today’s OEMs want greater flexibility in their design process, while end-users want to maximise performance and productivity while minimising operating costs and improving reliability. To this end, he explains that the construction industry is moving increasingly towards smarter, more efficient machines. “It’s no longer just about components; it’s now about how those components can connect with each other to create intelligent sub-systems that dynamically adapt and respond to machine and user requirements,” said Taylor. “Electro-hydraulics aren’t a vision of the future – they’re a requirement for today. Leading solution providers are changing the way users operate mobile and industrial machines, and are also significantly improving the way OEMs design and build them.”

In Eaton’s case, Taylor points out that the company is bridging the gap between hardware and software with its Pro-FX Technology Platform and portfolio of Pro-FX Ready products that together provide advantages at each phase of the machine lifecycle. “It’s not just better machine control; it’s about what we refer to as Dynamic Machine Control,” said Taylor. This concept is really Eaton’s answer to the Industry 4.0 in that it is all about connectivity. Whether it's mobile or industrial machinery, you make machines smart by enabling individual elements to communicate with each other to optimise performance.”

Fuel efficiency and reduced emissions

Continuing the theme of Dynamic Machine Control, Taylor explained that this is fundamentally about adding electronics software to the hydraulic system. “The integration of control with the engine management and the vehicle management system to fully optimise the demands on the engine can help to significantly reduce emissions and reduce fuel consumption,” he explained.

Nigel Smith, technology and market development manager, Parker Hannifin, picks up the topic of fuel efficiency. In the case of ensuring machinery runs at an optimum fuel efficient level for as long as possible, he points out that hybrid drive solutions can be an effective solution. “It is true that in the instance of a machine that runs at a fairly constant duty cycle there may be no benefit in offering this type of solution,” said Smith. “However, for a manufacturer looking to manage a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and fuel emissions more effectively, one of the areas where we are seeing more take-up is in the use of electronics. A good example of this is Parker’s IQAN System, which replaces mechanical and electromechanical systems for controlling and monitoring hydraulics in mobile machines. Through the use of this system, we have seen significant fuel savings; particularly on things such as construction and forestry machinery. If you prevent an operator from running a vehicle or machine at maximum power if it doesn’t need to, major fuel savings can be achieved.”

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