Like most industries, the hydraulics industry also had to cope with the pandemic in 2020, although a recovery was already noticeable during the year. This could be because a broad range of applications and industries are served – and the industry is successfully taking on the current challenges of energy efficiency and digitalization. The field of intelligent hydraulics is very broad, ranging from ultra-fast feedback in flight simulators, plastic injection molding machines to blade adjustment for wind power systems or control valves on steam or gas turbines. I would therefore like to look at current general developments in the hydraulics industry.
There are several mega trends affecting this industry:
- Connected world, smart manufacturing and energy efficiency
- Systems are getting more decentralized and autonomous; and equipped with standardized interfaces and semantics
Intelligent designs and concepts regarding the machine life cycle management are required. This means that the following points have to be considered:
- Smart selection of sensors, interfaces and network technology
- Efficient handling of the available data (for example: will the original sensor data be used in the control unit, an edge computing device or in the cloud?)
On the sensor side, in addition to the familiar devices for measuring pressure, temperature, flow and level, new sensor designs can also be used which, for example, combine vibration with other variables mentioned and make them available in a pre-processed form.
(1) Machine controller (2) Analysis, data documentation in the cloud (3) Monitoring, visualization of the acquired data (4) Autonomous axis in the field level (5) Detecting liquid media flow with BFF thermal flow controller (6) Temperature measurement with BFT temperature sensors (7) Valve parameterization via IO-Link (8) Pressure measurement with BSP pressure sensors (9) Continuous level detection BTL magnetostrictive linear position sensors (10) Level monitoring using limit value detection with BCS capacitive sensors
A related approach in the field of hydraulics is to collect this field data more efficiently using IO-Link. Thereby an IO-Link master communicates with the fieldbus level and the controller. The values transmitted also provide information for diagnostics, can be documented and directly visualized or analyzed in the cloud. This solution offers significant IO-Link advantages and simple installation with pre-assembled cost effective unshielded standard cables and noise-free signals over a digital interface, which makes the drive or hydraulic system IIoT ready. This could also be interesting for small and medium-sized suppliers of hydraulic systems as it is a manufacturer independent standard.
Anthony Haywood in his article ‘From Hydraulic System to Intelligent Hydraulics with IIoT’ took a closer look at the background & current development: see page 20