Electronic control systems represent one of the next significant advancements in implement control systems. By replacing mechanical controls for hydraulics and other systems, they offer greater responsiveness, finer control, higher efficiency and increased reliability.
Control system design
In the traditional model of control system design, the controller had a direct linkage to the mechanical system that it controlled. Fuel pedals opened and closed throttles and hydraulic controls directly actuated pumps to cause liquid to flow in or out of the desired component.
Electronic control systems decouple the controller and the system that they control. In an analog system, a controller sends a varying electric signal to a pump or actuator that then responds accordingly. Digital systems use control communication systems like, CANbus to send digital commands to a processor, which then sends a signal to the pumps or other devices to take the appropriate commanded action.
Benefits of electronic control systems
Equipment that is designed to use electronic control systems enjoys these benefits:
- Calibration can be simplified and provide a more refined, tuned system performance.
- Electronic systems can sense loads with small, precise sensors, instead of needing to have complicated load-sense plumbing systems installed.
- Electronic loadsense can greatly enhance system responsiveness and provide for improved operator load and motion control.
- Data from system operation can be easily reported to other parts of the device over CANbus connections. For example, the Intellinder™ cylinder control system utilizes an absolute position monitoring sensor that reports the exact state of the cylinder, instead of its relative state.
- Many electronic systems offer lower installation and operating costs than their hydraulic predecessors.
- Some electronic control pumps can be configured with a Windows computer over an industry-standard RS-232C serial connection.
Intelligent flow control
The intelligent flow control (IFC) systems that utilize electronic pumps and electronic input controls offer all of the benefits of a traditional load-sensing system, coupled with several performance enhancements. IFC sends commands to pumps and valves at the same time, improving response speeds and therefore control and productivity. It can also optimize pressure levels in the system, helping to ensure equipment is operating at peak efficiency.
Design trends which show success
IFC and electronic control systems aren't the industry-standard yet. However, they are increasingly finding their ways into more applications as they resolve issues found in conventional loadsense systems. IFC systems for loaders boost productivity and reduce fuel consumption, while dig-and-dump functions are taking a step towards being autonomous thanks to the position-sensing Intellinder technology.
Testing of IFC-based equipment in both truck-loading and trenching has documented a 15 percent productivity increase relative to similar equipment with hydraulic controls. The electronic control systems also led to 22 percent fuel savings.
Contact Parker to learn more about electronic control systems and hybrid options. We can help you design equipment that leverages the advantages of these new control technologies.
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