Companies of all stripes are hyping the wonders of “intelligent” components and the bright future of IoT and Industry 4.0 at this year’s Hannover Fair. Parker Hannifin has seemingly set itself a bit apart from the pack in that it is pushing the envelope in terms of technology developments – but always with the needs of the customer front and center.
“Parker has a quite reasonable approach to all of this,” said spokeswoman Suzanne Hochheimer. “You can start to put sensors in anything and everything, and then you have this huge amount of data which leads to the question, ‘What are you going to do with it all?’ It’s going to expensive, taking up a lot of resources, taking up a lot of bandwidth and in the end, what are people actually doing with the data?
“We like to take what we call a more-discrete approach, where we really look at a key issue that a customer is having.” She cites, as one example, a drop in pressure in a pneumatics-driven production application. “Everything needs to get shut down because you don’t know the source, and then it takes forever to find it and fix it, and all that time production is down, so we’re not making any money.
“We can improve that situation using smart technology,” for instance, by developing sensors that are installed in critical locations and detect when conditions begin to change – before manufacturing operations suddenly fail. And, in addition, develop augmented reality systems that can aid unskilled workers in installing the sensors or making repairs. Finally, the overall system can note where a failure will soon occur, and even order the necessary replacement parts the technician will eventually require.
“So Parker is embracing technologies like IoT, augmented reality and predictive maintenance – but always taking a discrete approach by identifying and solving the key problems a customer has.” But make no mistake, said Hochheimer, Parker is definitely putting “smarts” and IT capabilities into components to further that goal. “I think that is one of our key differentiators, we have a wealth of engineers and they really understand our customer’s applications. And they have this deep know-how. We pride ourselves in working with the customer, and looking at problems in new ways, and can in the end come up with a solution that is more efficient, safer, more compact, lighter and so on.”
As just one example, the company displayed a new electrohydraulic pump system that reportedly reduces fuel costs in lifting applications, such as in forklifts, paving the way for complete electrified vehicle solutions. The Electro-Hydraulic Pump System (EHPS) is for high-power lifting applications in the construction, materials handling and mining markets. The new integrated solution provides the possibility to reduce fuel cost savings of up to 50% and gives customers the potential to downsize or remove the diesel engine, therefore creating an optimized, highly-efficient, completely electric vehicle.
The shift towards electrification across many areas of industry can deliver environmental and sustainability as well as performance benefits. As a result, large numbers of OEMs are looking to tap into the technology which also supports improved maintainability, greater safety, and compliance with increasingly stringent emissions regulations, according to Parker.
Conventional solutions in this area work with coupled power distribution, where the engine is sized for peak demand with no energy storage or recovery capability. In addition, the efficiency (torque/speed operation) of the internal combustion engine (ICE) tends to be low.
With its EHPS, Parker has addressed a market need for decoupled loads and power distribution. This design concept facilitates far better engine management whereby energy storage and recovery functions can be introduced. With its separate drive train, the EHPS also offers high ICE efficiency via power point operation.
Parker’s system includes a tank-mounted electric motor and gear pump, with control valves mounted on top, all controlled by a power inverter. Embedded Parker-derived software provides the system function and operational interface, while peripheral manifolds and system components manage hydraulic functions.
Optimizing efficiency and capturing energy, via a regeneration accumulator, also clears the way for the creation of hybrid and fully electric vehicles that have a fuel/charge period that enables extended running times; thus, meeting the demanding duty cycles required in heavy duty mobile applications. Maintenance demands are also reduced thanks to the benefits of a smaller constant-speed engine, lower generated heat related to the efficiency improvements, and advanced ‘health’ monitoring.
Parker’s EHPS has already been tested in a number of customer applications. A hybrid wheel loader, for example, achieved a 50% reduction in its energy requirement. Additionally, the system’s high-power density allowed a smaller frame to be used. The project also saw hydraulic heat significantly reduced, which in turn enabled reduced sizing of thermal management hardware such as the pump, fan motor, fan and radiator.
The success of this integrated, space-saving solution proved similar with a hybrid reach stacker, which demonstrated a 30% fuel savings and productivity improvements with quicker operator responses in lifting, lowering and driving. Maintenance also proved easier due to the system’s modular design and self-diagnostics, while up to 100 tons less CO2 emissions were predicted to be generated based on 5,000 hours running time per year. Future customers risk levels can be significantly reduced as the system and software can be developed, diagnostics validated, functional safety confirmed, and lifetime reliability testing completed prior to the system being installed on a customer vehicle.