Smart and innovative farming with HYDAC

Smart and innovative farming with HYDAC

HYDAC offers products, services, and systems for most applications in the agricultural equipment sector as well as in trailer-mounted machinery and agricultural trailers

“We offer system solutions for agricultural machinery tailored to individual preferences based on our widely tested and qualitatively high-value hydraulic and electronic product range,” HYDAC National Sales and Marketing Manager Peter Agius comments.

Mr Agius highlights that HYDAC doesn’t stop there, but remains at the cutting edge of new developments in the field such as valve technology for electro-hydraulic load holding functions to the provision of vision for autonomous tractors, among many others. 

HYDAC valve technology for electro-hydraulic load holding functions

“The precise lowering of loads is not an easy task, especially when equipment such as tractors are in the forward holding position,” he says.

The use of counterbalance valves here makes it difficult to combine energy efficiency and stability.

Mr Agius points out that the easy solution is electro-hydraulic load holding functions. 

In a nutshell, this is because electro-hydraulic load holding offers full control software that can keep the inlet pressure at the minimum level. This is especially effective with highly changeable load conditions, but special valves are required for this - a solution offered by HYDAC.

The dilemma machine manufacturers often face is whether to go with energy or stability when it comes to precise lowering of leading loads with counterbalance valves.

He explains that while energy efficiency requires a high pilot ratio (φ), experience shows that stable load lowering benefits from a lower φ. 

“Valves with a low φ for increased stability need a high inlet pressure on the pump side when lowering loads. This requires a large amount of energy, which ultimately leads to the oil warming up, which must then be compensated for with an increase in cooling capacity."

“Although valves with a high φ are more energy efficient in comparison, they lead to unstable lowering of loads, especially in systems susceptible to vibration due to reactive behaviour - hence the dilemma.” 

Significance of energy efficiency for mobile machines 

According to Mr Agius, energy efficiency is becoming more and more of a priority due to the growing importance of electrification. 

This is a particular focus of attention in this application as it is directly related to the electrified machine‘s battery design, which in turn represents a significant cost driver on the part of the machine manufacturer.

“It is for this reason that the dilemma of finding a compromise between energy efficiency and stability for load holding is becoming more of a priority. Current approaches to solutions from machine manufacturers are increasingly concentrating on electro-hydraulic load holding,” he says. 

Focus on electro-hydraulic load holding and load lowering functions  

Even with electro-hydraulic systems, the basic function of conventional load lowering, in which the speed of the actuator is regulated by the inlet flow rate, is retained, Mr Agius says. 

In this application, however, it is possible to use software to constantly regulate the inlet pressure to the minimum pressure level required in the situation. This means that cavitation is avoided and the full control of the lowering movement is maintained.

“The hydraulic part of the control loop is implemented by replacing the conventional downstream counterbalance valve with a pilot-operated, proportional, poppet-type flow control valve,” he says 

System states can be detected via sensors.

If large volume flows are required with low leading loads, the power loss is greatest in conventional systems as the required control pressure is highest here. With electro-hydraulic load holding, on the other hand, the power loss can be kept at a low level by keeping the inlet pressure as low as possible.

“This offers the greatest potential for energy savings in applications with heavily changing load conditions as the energy requirement is no longer dependent on the set pressure of a conventional counterbalance valve. To implement these types of systems efficiently, PWS valves are required, which work without compensation."

“In gravity lowering applications, these valves have already proven themselves with and without a pressure compensator.”

SunBot gets eyes from HYDAC

Another example is HYDAC Software GmnH providing vision to autonomous electric-tractor mower combinations for berry plantations.

These driverless robots, developed by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy, run on solar energy and are intended to autonomously maintain the undergrowth between berry bushes.  

“This type of innovation is essential because the production of bush berries is under threat from a shortage of skilled workers and rising wages," Mr Agius says.  

“With the SunBot plant care work can be performed autonomously at any time day or night and with less demand for manual workers."


Smart cab for smart farming

HYDAC has been involved in the development of a Smart CAB together with Dresden University of Technology and project partners. 

The Smart CAB, a multifunctional cabin for self-propelled vehicles such as harvesters and field sprayers, features serial-tested modularity, x2x-usability and smart farming.

“It is designed to provide real value to customers, as well as flexibility, future security, and profitability, with profitability being the focus of applications in smart farming,” Mr Agius says. 

To ensure maximum x2x-usability, the cabin features an exceptional high-performance CAN structure.

“As a result of its open system there are no limits in terms of interconnection, thus offering maximum future safety and ensuring smooth interaction amongst driver, machine, cloud, drone and all other components imaginable,” he says.

“New functions can be uploaded by means of an integrated connectivity unit and a separate feature store. Manufacturers and farmers can also share data of general interest to establish new business models and thus increase profitability.” 

Standard offerings

Mr Agius underscores that HYDAC is at hand when it comes to tractors, towed machines, self-propelled machines, and front loaders whether they be hydraulic, electronic, or mechanical.  

“We can do so much from increasing use through reduced vibration and noise and optimising design and linking components for improved operability to increasing operating safety through interface reduction and optimising costs through reducing diversity of variants with standard components and modular assembly, among others.” 

Tractors, towed machines, self-propelled machines, and front loaders all make use of products and systems such as electronic controls and sensors, accumulator technology, and accessories. 

Products and systems for tractors also include controls, working and additional hydraulics; front loader control blocks and 6/2 changeover valves; priority valves; cabin suspension; suspension systems; cooling systems; filtration solutions; transmission shift control; customer-specific central hydraulics; and tank-filter solutions.

Towed machines are concerned with input control block; tank-filter and filtration solutions; suspension systems; and boom suspension. Self-propelled machines are concerned with controls, working and additional hydraulics; emergency steering pump kit; tank-filter solutions; diesel tanking pump kit; filtration solutions; cooling systems; and customer-specific central hydraulics. And front loaders are concerned with control blocks and 6/2 change-over valves. 

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