I spoke with Paul Brenner, global marketing manager for Eaton Hydraulics of Eden Prairie, Minn. at the recent MINExpo show in Las Vegas. We discussed the challenges of the mining industry, and what kind of pain points are affecting engineers designing mining equipment.
Brenner explained that the type of off-highway equipment used in mining applications is always driven by productivity, increasing the top line efficiency and having the requisite amount of reliability in the field.
“We’re always looking for ways to bring together products such as using Pro-FX software and linking it very closely with our hydraulic products,” he said. “It’s making sure that we can offer subsystems that interest the customer’s need. Rather than just talking about, ‘Here’s a valve for you,’ or ‘Here’s a pump for you,’ it’s networking those products together and addressing that need that’s in the market. Often times we’re talking about, ‘Paul, can you help us reduce fuel, or figuring things out for efficiency by up to 20%?’ Sure.”
Brenner said that Eaton can do that with the controls they have and with products like CMA, an electrohydraulic mobile valve that features independent metering.
“We can look at all the multiple modes and how they’re being used for the time. We can offer a system that potentially down speeds the engine or even downsizing it as well. That’s a big one. When we work with OEM customers, what we’re always looking at the prime movement, the engine side of it. Because that’s the only way you’re going to save fuel.”
He feels that the best solution is to group those products together to work seamlessly with the prime mover so they can get that down speed in order or achieve engine downsizing.
Brenner said that the same ideas apply to other heavy equipment uses, although the usage in mining is much higher than in, say agricultural applications.
“Perhaps an [agricultural] tractor works 600-700 hours a year. In mining it’s more like 22,220 hours … I think Eaton understands the needs of those segments and addresses the same problem in those segments, but it understands the idiosyncrasies of those segments.”
“What we’re trying to do to one is applicable to many,” he said. “It’s just utilization factors that are very different. Yet again, understanding that duty size for a tractor compared to a wheel loader in mining. [They are] very very different, but the end goals—the CTQs that are critical to quality requirements—for those OEMs typically look the same.”