Initial cost benefits of Electro-hydraulics

Initial cost benefits of Electro-hydraulics


We get a lot of feedback regarding the initial cost of using electro-hydraulic power units from customers in the fluid power industry. The cost to integrate is one of the long-standing reasons electro-hydraulics have been slow to gain a foot hold in this industry. This resistance is coming from distributors, and integrators, as well as, original equipment manufacturers.

There are endless combinations of components used to design hydraulic systems. Some are replicated thousands of times for OEM applications, and others are one-of-a-kind systems for a very specific use. In this article we are focusing on a single actuator schematic to keep the comparison as simple as possible. An apples-to-apples comparison of an electro-hydraulic system vs. a traditional hydraulic system with the same functionality, and sensing capabilities, shows an interesting result.

single action hydraulic schematic

Integrated Electro-hydraulics HPU components

Integrated Electro-hydraulic power packs are being spec’d into designs in order to allow engine off hydraulics, lower noise, lower emission capabilities, and increased efficiency from combustion engines still needed for propulsion. This is done by using power-on-demand functionality, built in pressure/flow control, and lots of internal sensing of the electronics and hydraulics systems to keep them running at peak performance and efficiency. The integrated sensing gives electro-hydraulics a huge leg up on traditional systems that need to add external components to achieve the same functionality.

A digital flow meter is a great example of an add on component. A digital flow meter costs about $800, and will need a $250 controller to monitor the flow data. The controller must be programmed, by a tech or engineer, to do something useful with the data. Electro-hydraulics can measure the same data with no extra components using a bit of math. RPM x pump displacement with proper tuning will give a flow value. Temp, pressure, RPM, current, voltage, and power are also included.

One of the biggest advantages of integrated electro-hydraulics is the packaging. Almost all hydraulic components are combined into a single package including; motor, motor controller, pump, manifold,  proportional/directional control, and closed loop sensing. Oil cooling components are completely omitted since there is almost no energy lost to heat. This compactness allows systems to be installed in places they may not have been able to fit otherwise.


Traditional HPU components

Traditional hydraulic power units generally consist of a 3 phase AC electric motor, gear pump, manifold, valves, and a reservoir. This combination will get you pressure and flow at a price that is hard to beat for basic applications. Things get more expensive if additional control or sensing capabilities are needed for the application. Proportional/directional valves add mechanical flow control, but at the expense of heat (lost energy), additional costs, and system complexity. Adding sensing for system feedback optimizes efficiency and precision, but again increases cost and complexity. This is usually where the added capabilities of the system are not enough to warrant the costs involved.

Consider also, these components take up a fair amount of room. For some applications space is not a problem, however, other installations may be completely dictated by the amount of space available.

traditional hpu size

Cost comparisons of both systems

The table below shows the cost equivalent of equally capable systems for both traditional HPUs and integrated electro-hydraulic HPUs. These costs are based on actual quotes from fluid power distributors at “retail markup” that is consistent with purchasing through distribution for machine integration. This example assumes an integrated electro-hydraulic system such as, a brushless permanent magnet motor and motor controller, pump, and integrated manifold. As you can see, just for components, the electro-hydraulic HPU is about $500 less expensive.

component cost comparison electro-hydraulic vs traditional hpu

Engineering design and installation resources

One of the biggest selling points, aside from efficiency, functionality, and packaging, of integrated electro-hydraulics is the ease of installation. Most systems require voltage in, communication, and hydraulic hoses. Simple block diagram programming gets you up and running.

It takes years and years of experience to become a master fluid power engineer that can design and troubleshoot a traditional hydraulic system. There is a huge change over in the fluid power industry happening right now. As most veterans are nearing retirement, there is a skills gap that is widening. There is not much attention given to the fluid power industry from young graduates entering the work force. Electro-hydraulics are helping bridge the skills gap by having the ability to “plug and play” which does not require traditional hydraulic knowledge or decades of experience. It also brings a level of quick control and tuning ability not easily duplicated with traditional hydraulics. Most importantly, quick design and start up times get machines back to work instead of weeks of downtime.

resources cost comparison electro-hydraulic vs traditional hpu

Parts procurement resources

Tons of resources are invested in parts procurement through verified suppliers that may take years of relationship building. Once components for a system are ordered, lead times, shipping times, shipping costs, and managing all these suppliers is a full-time position. Is also takes resources to manage the orders, invoices, and payments for these components. The ability to order an integrated electro-hydraulic HPU from a single source saves time and money that is usually not directly associated with designing a system, but, none the less, effects the bottom line.

Troubleshooting and design iterations

Once a system is designed, and assembled, it must be tested, and any bugs worked out through troubleshooting. Issues almost always arise during initial testing. These could result in hours or weeks of debugging, even ordering replacement parts. It all adds up to increased costs, and downtime of the system. Once again, the installation of integrated electro-hydraulics adds the significant advantage of working correctly, right out of the box.


Hydraulic system functionality requirements vary for every application. Basic work functions performed by a high-end system are expensive. However, when added functionality is necessary, and beneficial, integrated electro-hydraulics are the answer! Reduced installation and operation costs, as well as, less resources required from engineering, procurement, and maintenance all support the decision to choose electro-hydraulics.



Custom Solutions

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.

OEM Solutions

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.

Get our newsletter and stay up to date on information about Hydrapulse

Benefits beyond Efficiency for Electro-hydraulics

Benefits beyond Efficiency for Electro-hydraulics


There are many discussions regarding electrification in the fluid power industry right now, especially electro-hydraulic pump units. With all the buzz around this technology, it is difficult to understand what the advantages are and why go through the trouble of integrating electro-hydraulics into your mobile machine. If the benefits are not clear, most folks tend to dismiss the claims as being marketing hype and continue using antiquated methods despite the known shortcomings. Electro-hydraulic pumps are most known for allowing for a major increase in efficiency. What is less known is, electro-hydraulics also offer a huge gains in simplicity, capability, and tuning. In this article we will touch on some of the key points of why manufacturers are switching to electro-hydraulics other than energy efficiency gains.


Traditional Hydraulic components

Every hydraulic system is different, however, they all have the same basic components that make up the system. Each includes a prime mover (diesel or electric), pump, valves, reservoir, oil cooler, and actuators. Each of these components are potential failure points within the system. The components themselves, or the hoses and fittings between them can fail. While some of these components, such as actuators, cannot be omitted, electro-hydraulics combine many of the components, and make others obsolete.

Electro-hydraulic components

An integrated electro-hydraulic pump is an electric motor, motor controller, and pump all in one unit. The system is powered from an AC or DC power source which opens opportunities for hybrid or zero emission battery power but does not necessarily eliminate a diesel engine. It is inherently more efficient than a traditional system for several reasons. Electro-hydraulics operate in power-on-demand mode and only use energy when work (pressure/flow) is needed. In addition, electro-hydraulics have built in directional and proportional control eliminating the need for manifolds and inefficient directional valves. Improved efficiency means the system generates far less heat. As a result, the oil cooler is omitted. In addition, a simple gear pump can be used instead of a complicated and expensive variable speed pump.

  • Electro-hydraulic systems run more efficiently and cooler than traditional systems
  • Electro-hydraulics integrate or omit components in a traditional hydraulic system
  • Electro-hydraulics can utilize hybrid or zero emission electric drivetrains

Self-diagnostic capabilities

Artisan hydraulic troubleshooting

Traditional hydraulic systems are not easy to troubleshoot. There are many components that have potential to fail over time. A component failure may manifest itself in ways that are not inherently obvious. Each component has an affect on the other components and can create a difficult troubleshooting scenario that may need the expertise of a seasoned hydraulics technician to solve.


Electro-hydraulics have self-diagnostic capabilities that are changing the way hydraulics are designed, maintained, and repaired. Onboard diagnostics can monitor voltage, current, rpm, power output, temp, pressure, flow, vibration, and many other metrics. This data is used for internal monitoring of the system for optimal performance as well as alerting operators of errors, fault codes, and maintenance issues. Datalogging capabilities can detect changes over time that can show pump or bearing wear. This allows for planned maintenance to be done to avoid catastrophic failures that can cause extended downtime.

  • Traditional hydraulics can be difficult to troubleshoot
  • Electro-hydraulic systems are self-diagnostic with multiple sensors collecting data continuously
  • Self-diagnostics detect issues earlier and allow for planned maintenance to avoid catastrophic failures

Plug-and-Play Tuning

Some of the latest electro-hydraulic systems are almost plug-and-play, right out of the box. Plug in your power supply, communication interface, a/b hydraulic hoses, and you are ready to go. Simple configuration tuning can be done digitally from the user interface. Of course, if you are upgrading an entire machine it is a bit more involved than that. However, this is opening a new era of fluid power that resonates with a new generation of engineers, and technicians, in the fluid power industry. As more of the seasoned fluid power veterans are retiring, focus is on creating products that make fluid power integration easier. This is accomplished by using components that can be applied to a wider array of systems, shortening design cycles, and bring-up time.

  • Some electro-hydraulic systems are plug and play right out of the box
  • Simple configuration tuning available via the user interface
  • Electro-hydraulics allow the creation of products that make fluid power integration easier


Full system Integration

Now that we have covered some of the positive aspects of electro-hydraulic power units, let’s discuss some of the hurdles. If it was simple to switch to electro-hydraulics the entire industry would have already done it. Unfortunately, upgrading an entire machine to electro-hydraulics means looking at the complete hydraulic system and potentially drivetrain system to take full advantage of the benefits of electro-hydraulics. Most hydraulic equipment has been designed and incrementally tuned over decades. Changes to the system can be hard to get approval. However, if a piece of equipment is undergoing a major redesign (for emissions regulations for example) or is a newly designed piece of equipment, then it may be a great opportunity to move to electro-hydraulics. Additionally, electro-hydraulics can be integrated at different levels. For instance, an electro-hydraulic pump unit can be added to an existing hydraulic system, as is, without changing anything on the hydraulic side. This would add power-on-demand functionality and efficiency benefits without forcing a complete hydraulic system redesign.

Cost of entry

Cost of entry is another obstacle often discussed. The individual cost of the electro-hydraulic pump unit will be more than traditional pumps. A high tech electro-hydraulic pump may be overkill for some applications, such as a tilt trailer. However, electro-hydraulics are becoming cheaper as they gain momentum in fluid power. In addition, for more demanding applications, the money and time saved in the overall system by eliminating valves, manifolds, multiple sensors, oil coolers, hoses, fittings, and of course fuel consumed will be much cheaper than traditional hydraulics.


Preconceptions of new technology are hard to overcome in this industry. Electronics have long had a negative reputation for being difficult to integrate as well as unreliable. That may have been true 25 years ago, but today electronics are everywhere, including applications considered harsh and demanding. They have become much simpler to integrate via touch screen interfaces and preprogrammed configurations. Modern electrical systems are spec’d appropriately and undergo extensive environmental certification testing before logging hours in the field. If they are integrated properly, there should be no reliability issues with electronics.


While electro-hydraulics are catching on because of their efficiency gains and ability to lower emissions, there are also performance and functionality benefits that add tremendous value. As more OEM’s integrate electro-hydraulics, we expect to see the technology used in ways that have not been thought of yet. While Diesel might be around for another 10 or 20 years, electro-hydraulics are paving the way to a cleaner future with advanced technologies that are available now.



Custom Solutions

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.

OEM Solutions

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.

Get our newsletter and stay up to date on information about Hydrapulse

Ag Equipment Electrification In 2019

Ag Equipment Electrification In 2019



The Hydrapulse team had the opportunity to attend the 2019 World Ag Expo located in the Central Valley of California in the farming community of Tulare. It is one of the largest agricultural expos on the west coast. There were over 1,400 exhibitors displaying the latest farm equipment, communications, chemicals, and technology on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. It had over 100,000 visitors including international visitors from over 60 countries.

We attended this year to see what is new and get a feel for where the ag industry is heading in the near future. It is a great way to get real world feedback on current trends and issues from all sectors of the ag world. We were particularly interested in who is developing or displaying electric or hybrid equipment. Diesel is still king in the ag industry, but some companies are diving right in to electric and hybrid solutions. Most companies have made the mandated upgrade to Tier IV Final diesel engines, but who knows how long before Tier V becomes the new benchmark, or diesel engines are completely banned from certain regions. Below is some of the alternative energy equipment we found while walking the show.


Dannar 4.0

Dannar has created the Dannar 4.0 which is an all-electric Mobile Power Station® with 126-500kWh of energy capacity. It is designed to be a mobile equipment platform for all kinds of purposes including scissor lifts, forklift masts, and dump beds. It can accept hydraulic attachments from CAT®, Bobcat®, and John Deere®. It is a modular chassis design that can be configured into almost any type of equipment the end user would need. In addition, the large storage capacity can be used as off-site power to run 110vac, or 220vac equipment, or be used as battery storage for solar arrays.

This piece of equipment stood out to us because it offered an electric solution that can fit unlimited use cases. It is a modular design that can be outfitted in endless ways, leverages BMW battery technology, and has multiple power levels available. Dannar addressed the thousands of heavy equipment use cases with a single chassis platform that not only is “green”, but also has real value as a work horse.


Aebi EC170

We spotted an Aebi EC170 that was being displayed by a local dealer at the expo. The Aebi EC170 is an all electric ride-on implement carrier with crawler tracks. It has a max power output of 18kW with a battery capacity of 9.7kWh. It has a run time of 3.5 hours, and a charge time of 2.5-4 hours depending on the charger used. It can accept multiple attachments such as, cutter bar, flail mower, leaf blower, and snow plough. It can also be operated via a remote control.

We noticed the EC170 first by the wood treatment used for the fenders and arm rests. That definitely stands out from the traditional equipment it was parked next to. It is an example of a trend we have been seeing. Smaller equipment may be the first to accept electric drive trains as the new power source given the use cases around urban areas including in and around buildings, public spaces, and schools.


Wiggins AG eBull

The Wiggins AG eBull is a zero emissions, all electric, large capacity forklift which won the Top-10 New Products Competition for the World Ag Expo 2019. It is one a few different all electric offerings from Wiggins. The batteries are designed by Thor Trucks and run at 720vdc. The all electric drivetrain is a great fit for operating inside buildings and cargo ships given there is no emissions or noise. Wiggins is focused on surpassing Tier IV diesel regulations which are a short term stepping stone to completely banning diesel on off-highway heavy equipment. In addition, the eBull meets conformance for SAFE – ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 and UL-583 standards.



E-Z-GO was represented by one of their dealers at the World Ag Expo. They have been building electric golf carts for decades. The vehicle that caught our eyes at the show was the Express 4X4. It is a 28kW utility vehicle made for work or play that runs on 72vac with full time 4 wheel drive. What was most interesting, was hearing the sales team discussing government voucher programs for San Juaquin Valley residents. The Air Resource Board currently has a voucher program to replace existing gas or diesel utv’s with zero emission utv’s. The voucher program will fund up to 75% of the cost of a new zero emission utv. That is a strong incentive to switch, and a clear message from the Air Resource Board that they are committed to reducing emissions within the valley and are willing to provide significant funding to help meet the goals.



Another vehicle that caught our eye was not all electric or hybrid. It was a diesel citrus orchard sprayer. The interesting feature was that it drove completely autonomously. This makes great sense for a task like pesticide spraying that can be extremely toxic to a human operator. It is exciting to see ideas that seemed impossible a few years ago to be fully functioning and now on the market.



In conclusion, there is no doubt diesel is the fuel of choice for the ag industry and will stay that way for at least another decade. However, many sectors of the industry are looking ahead to zero emission all electric drive trains, especially when the inherent benefits of electric line up with needs for that niche sector. Regulations to further limit diesel fuel usage are on the horizon, and battery technology is constantly making improvements to increase run times and decrease charge times. We look forward to seeing what other ag equipment enters the market with zero emission technology.

Custom Solutions

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.

OEM Solutions

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.

Get our newsletter and stay up to date on information about Hydrapulse