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April 25, 20243 min read

Empowering Optimal Performance with Electric-Hydraulic Solutions

This is a summary from the presentation of the same title by Dr. Steffen Mutschler, Director Sales & Product Management at Bosch Rexroth AG, at the Future of Electrification 2024 conference. Watch the full session here:

The world of engineering is constantly evolving, with new technologies and innovations emerging. One area that has recently been gaining significant attention is electric-hydraulic solutions. During the Future of Electrification 2024 Conference, Dr. Steffen Mutschler, an experienced engineer, and researcher, delivered a compelling presentation that explored how the performance of mobile machinery can be optimized with electric-hydraulic solutions. During his presentation, Dr. Mutschler highlighted a frequently asked and critical question: how can machine runtime be extended given the limitations of onboard battery capacity?

Overview of Electric-Hydraulic Solutions

According to Dr. Mutschler, hydraulics will still play an important role in the electrification of mobile machines – due to their power density, versatility and high torque and thrust capabilities. Hydraulic pumps can be well combined with electric motors, in order to create efficient and highly dynamic hydraulic power sources for zero-emission machinery. However, while the engineering focus is typically on the battery and on the efficiency of the electric drive, the potentials in the hydraulic system are often underestimated.

During his presentation, Dr. Mutschler explored how electric-hydraulic solutions can significantly improve the performance of machinery. In particular, they can significantly extend battery runtime in electrified equipment. Using electric-hydraulic solutions also allows for more efficient and precise control of hydraulic devices, unlocking a new level of performance and a wider range of possibilities. Utilizing software alongside electric-hydraulic solutions can help strike the optimal balance between efficiency and other factors like power or sound. Dr. Mutschler explained that electric-hydraulic solutions could be seen as a bridge that connects the world of electrical engineering with hydraulic systems, opening up a world of new possibilities for a more sustainable and efficient future. 

Applications of Electric-Hydraulic Solutions

During his presentation, Dr. Mutschler delved into the applications of electric-hydraulic solutions. He gave numerous examples of how this technology is being used in various industries, from construction and agriculture to material handling and mining.

Dr. Mutschler shared a case study that explored the potential of electric-hydraulic solutions to improve efficiency in excavators. The excavator underwent a staged upgrade process. The first stage focused on optimizing the existing hydraulic system. This included implementing a system to capture and reuse energy from excavator movements and modifying the engine control strategy to operate at variable speeds based on workload. These adjustments resulted in a 40% reduction in energy consumption.

The second stage involved a complete electrification of the excavator. A new electric drive system replaced the diesel engine, offering a wider range of variable speeds for improved efficiency. Additionally, a dedicated electric motor was incorporated for the excavator's swivel function. This electrification process yielded a further 46% reduction in energy consumption, with the potential to nearly double the excavator's battery runtime.

Benefits of Electric-Hydraulic Solutions

During the presentation, Dr. Mutschler discussed the numerous benefits that electric-hydraulic solutions can bring. He emphasized that electric-hydraulic solutions can significantly enhance the performance of equipment, making it more efficient, reliable, and responsive. Using Electric-hydraulic solutions in equipment can lead to lower energy consumption and a reduced environmental impact since electric-hydraulic systems require less power and produce fewer emissions compared to traditional hydraulics. 

Electric-hydraulic solutions can also offer additional efficiency gains by capturing and reusing energy from the machinery's movements, further reducing overall energy demands. Systems with frequent lowering operations, like cranes or excavators, can benefit the most from this. The excavator case study shared by Dr. Mutschler showed how the optimization and control of the hydraulic system of a battery-electric machine can extend run time. Here, various system improvements nearly doubled the battery runtime. 

Dr. Mutschler's presentation showcased how electric-hydraulic solutions merge the power of electricity with the well-established performance of hydraulics. This technology offers a path towards enhanced performance, extended runtime, and reduced environmental impact. Electric mobile machines with optimized hydraulic systems deliver superior efficiency, responsiveness, and reliability when compared to traditional hydraulic solutions. As highlighted by the excavator case study, this technology can significantly improve battery runtime, a significant advantage for electric equipment. Lower energy consumption and fewer emissions can help contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future. 

The applications of electric-hydraulic solutions are vast, spanning construction, manufacturing, robotics, and beyond. The future of mobile machinery is electric, and electric-hydraulic solutions can help unlock its full potential. As this technology continues to evolve, we can expect even greater advancements in efficiency, performance, and environmental responsibility.