Eaton’s Hydraulics division has been fairly quiet about its hydraulic hybrid technology lately, considering that the company was one of the first to really pioneer its use in on-highway vehicles, like its partnership with UPS several years back to test its series system on medium-duty trucks. Eaton hasn’t been doing much with its parallel system for on-highway vehicles, so it was welcome news last week to hear about the company testing its series hydraulic hybrid solution on lift truck technology. Engineers from several lift truck manufacturers recently visited one of Eaton’s facilities in Germany to get a first-hand feel of this more efficient technology installed in a machine demonstrator.
The hydraulic hybrid solution for lift truck is a series system with technology extensions that ensure efficiency and performance on a system with work circuits. This hydraulic hybrid solution relies heavily on several key components in the Eaton portfolio, including electronic controllers, software, piston pumps, screw in cartridge valves, hoses and manifolds.
“The Eaton hydraulic hybrid power system means cities and businesses can significantly reduce the amount of fuel consumed and emissions produced,” said Astrid Mozes, chief technology officer, Hydraulics Group, Eaton. “Our innovative products and technical solutions provide businesses a competitive edge by reducing operating costs, improving safety and increasing efficiency and productivity.”
Eaton has been developing this hydraulic hybrid technology for more than 15 years for both on- and off-highway platforms.
Key in logistics and distribution applications, lift trucks move goods from one place to another in warehouses and manufacturing. In these environments, Eaton’s system helps improve energy efficiency, green-house gas emissions, productivity, operations cost and safety.
Eaton’s solution demonstrated up to 35% fuel savings when compared to a baseline vehicle. The improvement was achieved by enhancing system efficiencies and capturing energy from braking then using it to supplement the engine’s power during acceleration. This reduces energy consumption as well as improving carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions by 35% over a baseline vehicle.
For productivity, the system manages engine speed and torque, yielding optimal performance. The system also reduces conventional use of brakes, which means less wear and tear on this key machine component. It also addresses the engine start, replacing the function of traditional electric starters. These innovations add up to lower maintenance costs.
With this innovation, Eaton technologists have also simplified three operator inputs into one control lever for smoother and more efficient lifting, making it an easier machine to operate. Additionally, by simplifying inputs, Eaton’s system reduces the potential for operator error, leading to improved worker and operational safety.