New studies show that the heavy equipment used in the construction industry can become fuel efficient through a recently discovered innovation—the hydraulic steering systems.
On a regular hydraulic steering mechanism, heavy construction equipment utilizes a central variable displacement pump that delivers the fluid. The valves will then throttle this fluid to various gears and cogs, thus making the whole mechanism move. This also results to a lot of wasted fuel.
A New Mechanism Leads to Effective Fuel Saver
In order to avoid fuel inefficiency, a group of American researchers from Purdue University created this ingenious plan to pair one actuator to one hydraulic pump; hence completely eliminating the valves in the design.
Purdue University’s professor Monika Ivantysynova of the Maha Fluid Power Systems from the School of Mechanical Engineering stated that a significant amount of the world’s fuel consumption comes from heavy construction equipment. That is why improving its fuel efficiency is necessary and life changing.
“This is also good for commercial businesses everywhere,” she added, “as it will improve a fuel company’s bottom line.”
In this new design, the actuators are controlled by adjustments made to the pump displacement. Such a mechanism changes the amount of fluid that is being pumped to the actuator, making the diesel engine run at optimal speeds, which saves a lot of petrol in the process.
Other mechanisms are also being developed such as the steer by wire mechanisms. Though not yet complete, it is already seen as a failure since it still uses fuel-wasting valves.
Staggering Improvement in Fuel Efficiency
The tests conducted on the new electro-hydraulic power steering system showed a significant improvement of 15 percent in fuels savings and an increase in productivity by 40 percent. With the same equipment installed, the numbers showed an increase of 70 percent in the amount of soil that is being removed for every kilogram of fuel consumption.
Safer and Easier to Control
The new steering mechanism has also made sure that the operator is safe and more efficient too since the equipment is very easy to use and control, thanks to the steering wheel torque feedback mechanism. In addition, the said feedback is also being regulated according to the limitations of steering wheel angle and turning speed, the speed of the vehicle, and the connecting joint that links the two sub-frames.
Meanwhile, the steer by wire technology removes all the torque, making the whole system dangerous. This leads to a lack of tactile feedback that the driver will need in order to control the vehicle properly.
Deformations: Nothing to Worry About
The group also discovered deformations of the steel parts found in the mechanism. This is thought to be caused by the increased temperature during operations.
Ivantysynova says, “The deformation can vary from one to another. It all depends on the thickness of the lubricating film.”
She added that they are the only ones to have created the code that uses these lubricating films despite of high temperatures and pressures.
The research paper contains all the details regarding the project including: the layout of the system, the hardware, and the electronic controller, which was made through modeling, and was used for simulation.
Easy Integration to Mainstream Heavy Equipment
Anthony Franklin, the manager of the Maha laboratory, said that they are working with several partners in the industry in order to test and apply the research that they have conducted.
“The prototypes can be easily incorporated to any equipment that is currently being used in the industry. It can also be industrialized if the manufacturers have decided to opt for the system that we’ve created,” he added.
This study will be presented in a detailed manner during the SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress, which is going to take place on October 1 to 3 in the United States.