The Electronic Controls Div. of Parker Hannifin recently introduced several additions to its IQAN portfolio of hardware and software products, intended to improve performance and simplify the control of mobile-equipment hydraulics.
Unlike mechanical and electromechanical systems, the IQAN system takes an electronic approach to controlling and monitoring hydraulics in mobile machines. It includes a wide range of standard components like controllers, touchscreen displays, joysticks, I/O modules and sensors. Thus, it lets engineers take a “building-block” approach that eases component selection and circuit design while reducing development time and expense.
In addition, IQAN hardware meets industry and government standards for operating in severe conditions, including extreme temperatures, vibrations, mechanical impact and electromagnetic interference.
Heart of the system is IQAN software. The latest version, IQANdesign 4.0, is an advanced design tool with an intuitive graphic interface that reportedly simplifies and reduces development time. It includes a wide range of predefined “canned” functions such as closed-loop control, signal processing, math calculations, communication protocols and system diagnostics. Functions can be easily tweaked on a laptop computer, and then downloaded to the IQAN master module—in the plant or in the field—in minutes. It also includes a simulation tool, which permits function testing and validation, reducing development and prototyping time.
It allows for the easy implementation of distributed machine control, diagnostics and user interfaces using various component modules, and requires minimal programming skills on the part of the user, explained Johan Liden, product manager of IQAN Electronics at Parker. “We have hundreds of customers using the same hardware but the customization is done in the software by the customers themselves,” he said.
Among the newest IQAN components are a range of compact controllers designed to safely and reliably tackle demanding hydraulic control tasks. The IQAN-MC4x family of high performance controllers is designed for precision, real-time control of hydraulic systems. It includes three scalable designs covering a wide range of applications including economical task-oriented control, mid-size applications, I/O distribution and large centralized control systems. Each size controller has the same pinout, software and features, and applications that demand high computing capacity can be supported with cycle times as fast as 1 msec. Functional safety applications are supported up to SIL2.
The IQAN-MC4x includes 50 inputs (analog, timers and digital) and 36 outputs (CAM, PWM and digital) along with five CAN and Ethernet ports for in-vehicle network and diagnostics. In addition to common voltage, digital and frequency inputs the MC4x family also includes 0 to 35 V and 4 to 20 mA inputs, giving OEMs more freedom in selecting sensors for their specific application needs.
The CAM regulator for proportional current control of mobile valves simplifies motion control. Requiring no tuning or tweaking the CAM regulator circuit offers precision current control down to 1 mA, and zero drift ensures that the offset current drift over time, temperature or load changes is almost immeasurable.
According to Liden, the new MC4x family is a further example of IQAN’s complete system approach that gives users a competitive edge. “The compact size and advanced functionality coupled with the extremely broad connectivity options mean that we expect this to be the controller system of choice for hydraulic control. This is truly a well-integrated hardware and software solution for developing superior machine functionality,” he said.
To facilitate networking, Parker also introduced the IQAN-G11, a Bluetooth device for connecting to a machine CAN bus. The G11 lets an operator or service technician access machine parameters using a smartphone or tablet with dedicated apps for updating software or retrieving data logs. It can also serve as a gateway to the cloud, making the machine available for service technicians in remote locations.
This new device is an alternative to existing modem-based products and it promotes economical remote support, according Liden. Most day-to-day usage such as downloading logs and productivity data are performed free-of-charge via Bluetooth. When a remote connection is needed, the IQANsync app creates a smartphone-to-cloud connection which lets a remote service team tap into the CAN bus via the IQANconnect cloud service. IQANconnect uses pre-paid connection “tokens,” thereby avoiding expensive monthly connection charges.
“It is important for customers to maximize machine uptime and the IQAN-G11 allows them to do exactly that. It will also offer significant cost and time savings as it facilitates remote support with smartphone technology with a convenience that was just not available previously,” said Liden.