The fluid power industry is in the middle of a mass paradigm shift. There is a major shift towards electrical drive systems. There are many factors contributing to this change. One of the biggest factors is lowering emissions and fuel consumption of mobile heavy equipment to meet government mandated emissions regulations. The problem with that is in traditional hydraulic systems, the diesel engine is directly coupled to the hydraulic pump sized to run at worst case scenario 100% pressure and flow of all hydraulic functions. However, in the real world the machine may only see average use of 20% power available. As a result, this is forcing companies to look at decoupling the hydraulics from the prime mover by looking at electro-hydraulic solutions.
Energy Efficiency through Power on Demand
Electro-hydraulic solutions have potential to be radically more efficient than traditional hydraulics systems. It has been documented by many companies that electro-hydraulics are up to 80% more efficient. There are a few key features that make this possible. One of the simplest features is power on demand functionality. In simple terms, the electro-hydraulic unit only spins when pressure and flow are needed for work functions. When work functions are not being done, the electro-hydraulic unit sits at idle using no energy. This is a huge efficiency gain, as opposed to a traditional hydraulic pump which is always spinning with excess pressure and flow returning to tank. This also increases component lifespan with less wear on bearings and seals when no work is being done.
- 80% more efficient than traditional hydraulic solutions
- The electro-hydraulic unit only spins when pressure and flow are needed
- Greater component longevity
Even More Efficiency with Directional and Proportional control
Another major advantage to electro-hydraulic pumps is the fact that you can control directionality and proportionality of the hydraulics with the direction and speed of the electric motor. This concept has been well established with stepper motors and controllers in industrial hydraulics such as injection molding machines and has huge potential in mobile equipment because it means the removal of proportional and directional valves to the hydraulic circuit. These valves are inefficient, expensive, create heat, and are a nightmare for maintenance and troubleshooting.
- Built in proportional and directional control
- No need for expensive valve banks and manifolds
- Increased efficiency, reduced system cost, less heat, and simpler troubleshooting
Ease of Installation
Efficiency and more control are great but cramming all that stuff into a mobile chassis can be a challenge. First, an electro-hydraulic unit does not need to be coupled to the prime mover. This opens up a lot more placement options on a piece of equipment, especially if it is an Integrated electro-hydraulic system. These have a huge advantage because the electric motor, motor controller, and hydraulic pump are combined into one compact unit. In addition, there are no oil coolers to package because there is no heat being created by an inefficient valve bank.
- Electro-hydraulic systems are not coupled to the prime mover
- Much more placement options on mobile equipment
- Less components to mount in system
Troubleshooting a traditional hydraulic system with multiple valve banks can be a nightmare. Each circuit of the schematic has an impact on another circuit. It usually takes a well-versed hydraulics technician to troubleshoot a system and get it back up and running. With electro-hydraulics, especially a fully integrated dispersed network, troubleshooting becomes very simple. Each work function is paired to a single electro-hydraulic unit. With each circuit isolated, it becomes much more obvious to troubleshoot and repair the piece of equipment.
- Dispersed electro-hydraulic system pairs one pump to one work function
- Simple troubleshooting and repair
Comparable cost to install
10 years ago, electro-hydraulic solutions were a no starter for most applications because the initial cost was just too high compared to traditional hydraulics. As more companies develop and install electro-hydraulic solutions the initial cost of the components is coming down. At this point integrated electro-hydraulics solutions are comparable price wise to traditional hydraulic solutions, especially when considering the number of components that are not needed in the system e.g. expensive pump styles, valves, manifolds, and oil coolers.
- Initial cost of components is coming down
- Comparable overall price to traditional hydraulic systems
We have engineered the Hydrapulse to fulfill as many applications as possible as a non-custom solution. However, we understand that every project is unique and may call for something a little different. E-mail or call us to discuss your project and how we may be able to design a custom solution for you.
Hydrapulse, Inc. works with OEM’s to create semi-custom solutions tailored to meet your needs. Whether it is a custom displacement pump, communication interface, or firmware configuration, the Hydrapulse team can offer a semi-custom solution to fit your specs. Contact us to discuss your OEM opportunity.