With a wealth of advances in machinery design continuing to emerge, creating components that are responsive to the demands of the construction industry remains a challenge.
Among the key goals for components makers are improving hydraulic performance and developing electronic systems to improving machine precision and controllability and reduce fuel consumption. Translating this into a better finished machine is often a combination of in-house design by the equipment manufacturer and tapping into the expertise of components suppliers and other partners.
Among the major manufacturers investing in research and development is Hitachi, which has placed an emphasis on designing equipment across global markets. As Hiroyuki Kamata, engineering general manager for the company at its European headquarters explained, product development is of core importance.
Within its key areas of focus this year has been developing a response to the stringent emissions regulation that have seen engines developed to meet Stage IV/Tier four 4 legislation.
The company is also working on improving its established TRIAS hydraulics system, which three pumps and has been fitted to its ZX series of excavators of between 20 and 35 tonnes.
Mr Kamata said, “From the feedback that we have gained from customers, some of the key features they are looking for are lowering of running costs and making cabins more comfortable. They are looking for machines with lower fuel consumption and can handle increased loads, while also being more efficient.
“In general, the biggest challenge for engineers is to find the best balancing point in productivity, fuel consumption and total cost. Our development team has been trying to evaluate loss in hydraulics of our current system by all possible motions in operation. Then they have implemented all possible methods of loss reduction for our new hydraulic system. As a result, they will achieve reduction in fuel consumption in future models.”

Versatility is key
Creating robust and versatile equipment is something that Liebherr has regarded as one of its highest priorities. This has been demonstrated with its decision to expand its production facilities and serve customers beyond producing components for its own equipment.
Gebhard Schwarz, managing director of the company’s components division, said there had been an “increasing importance” placed on developing its external customer base, served from its latest facilities in Switzerland.
He said, “In addition to large diameter bearings and drives, our focus is to promote the sales of diesel and gas engines, common rail systems and axial piston units.
“The area of electronics represents a good future opportunity, as electronics is increasingly being used for central control and monitoring in modern machines.”
Its current focus includes hydrostatic-mechanical power-split transmissions.
The company has confirmed the first version to be developed is a gearbox designed specifically for mobile machinery that can fulfil strict requirements in terms of dynamic performance and reversing.
Liebherr has investigated the specific requirements for an optimum power-split transmission and then designed a customised transmission based on this, which is still in its testing phase.
Klaus Graner, managing director for development and engineering at Liebherr-components, said the company’s present research programme would prove decisive to its design strategy.
He said, “The development of a hydrostatic-mechanical power-split transmission is an important addition.
“Our solution is an impressive example of our system expertise in the area of drives and hydraulics and we can enter entirely new market segments with it.
“Initially, our system is specially targeted to mobile applications with high requirements regarding dynamics and reversing. Adaptations to further application profiles are already planned.”
Within the field of driveshafts, GKN Land Systems has launched its new inverted slip design driveshaft range known as Synergy, aimed at the construction and mining industries.
Launched at ConExpo, it has been developed by linking existing off-highway technology created by the company from its Mechanics series U-Joints range.
Product specialist Ben Ravenscroft, said, “The Synergy range is a natural evolution of existing GKN product innovation with new features and benefits to offer significant advantages to customers in the off-highway market. In the main these improvements will reduce the need for servicing and maintenance, and maximize uptime and productivity.”
Another company making strides with transmission component has been Dana, which exhibited at Bauma China.
Among its key developments has been its off-highway Spicer Rui Ma TZL 15 RM transmission for the local wheeled-loader market.
Produced at its factory in Wuxi, China, the transmission has been developed to meet enhanced emissions ratings and is said to help deliver 25% fuel-saving through its advanced design.
Engines
In terms of engine development, Bauma China saw manufacturers including Cummins, introduce products devised for both regional and global markets that are compliant with emissions legislation.
The company’s latest two models have promised what it has claimed as potential fuel savings of between 15% and 20% on previous models.
The QSB7 6.7 litre and QSF 3.8 litre units have drawn from an existing line of engines specially adapted for the Asian market. Both engines comply with China’s soon-to-be introduced Stage III emissions regulations and are expected to have broad application across the construction market.
The 6-cylinder 6.7 litre engine is aimed primarily for excavators between 20-30 tonnes. It features electronic controls for its high pressure common rail fuel system and delivers up to 215 hp (160 kW).
Meanwhile, its 3.8 litre counterpart is a 4-cylinder model pitched at excavators and loaders of up to 17 tonnes.
Perkins has launched its new engine complying with EU stage IIIB/US Tier 4 Interim emissions limits – which it believes will find a wider global market including China.
Releasing the 404F-E22TA at Bauma China, the company said its latest entrant featuring electronic management systems could deliver a 7% fuel consumption saving against previous models.
Its compact four-cylinder 2.2 litre turbo-charged engine is targeting the wheeled loader and six tonne excavator market. It is said to be the first of its size using common rail direct injection technology backed by electronic control.
Meanwhile, Danfoss has introduced its innovative Reverse Displacement Motor (RDM) for construction equipment.
This offers reverse circuit functionality without external values – which the company said was unprecedented in the industry for hydraulic systems.
It is said to be ideal for fan drive systems, it is reportedly capable of assisting in delivering 10-15% power savings and a 15% average reduction in system costs and reduced complexity.
Broad application
A further key development in hydraulics has been released by Hawe with its V30E-270 variable displacement axial-piston pump.
The company said it has been designed for a broad range of demanding applications in mobile hydraulics, it can be used with concrete pumps, harbour cranes or large hydraulic excavators.
An extensive controller program supports its deployment options.
The V30E-270 has been designed for an operating pressure of up to 350 bar, with a peak pressure of 420 bar. The volume flow clocks up a maximum of 400 litres at 1,500 rpm, with a geometric displacement of 270 cm3/rev.
As an integral part of hydraulics systems, specialist fluid manufacturers such as Dynavis have reported success in enhancing the performance of construction equipment.
Among one of its most prominent cases was a consultancy role with an Italian construction with Ghizzoni contractors. Its found that a 10% improvement in fuel efficiency could be achieved with the company’s fleet of 14 Case excavators through the use of Dynavis, according to the company.
It also found that older excavators saw a performance improvement through the company’s aftermarket hydraulic fuel additive.
A spokesperson for the company said, “More than once, Ghizzoni machine operators stated that all of a sudden their excavators could perform tasks they were unable until then. An explanation may be, that after years of intensive utilisation, pump and seals show increased tolerances.
“A hydraulic fluid formulated with the Dynavis technology due to its optimised viscosity is able to at least partially compensate for this wear indicated loss of pressure. What the machine operators had witnessed was no “new” mobility, it was just the one the excavators had when being in new condition.”
Power management company Eaton has launched its new line of Pro-FX electronic controls and software, including the HFX controllers and VFX displays families.
It has also released its Pro-FX Control software to precisely control machine functions for mobile off-highway applications.
New HFX controllers have die-cast aluminium housing that the company says is rugged enough to withstand wide temperature ranges and water depths.
Multiple inputs and outputs, including three CAN ports, provide flexible configurations, according to the company.
Eaton says it uses one of the fastest processors on the market for its control systems. In addition, memory can be allocated to perform data logging functions that can reduce cost by taking the guesswork out of maintenance by predicting problems before they happen.
The new line includes two displays – 4.3 and 7 inches (109 and 178 mm). Like the controllers, its high-quality display screens are extremely rugged, built to withstand high and low temperatures, and are readable in direct sunlight.
Cabin controls
The industrial division of Curtiss-Wright Corporation has supplied Penny + Giles JC8000 joystick controllers to Netherlands-based container handling systems company VDL Containersystemen.
Its Containersystemen’s ‘classic’ control system for hooklifts uses cabin-based air controls to operate the hydraulic main valve that drives the hydraulic cylinders.
This allows the driver to operate multiple (but not simultaneous) functions, including the hooklift’s sliding arm or sliding/tilting arm.
With useable space within truck cabins becoming smaller, recent installations have been mounted to the other side of the driver’s seat, away from the door, which then required rear view windows to be specified to enable the operator to monitor what was happening during the lifting procedure.
Fortunately, the change in layout did have advantages, as VDL’s Ruud Paridaans
explained, “VDL’s hooklifts feature either a sliding arm or sliding/tilting arm and, particularly for sliding/tilting arm applications, a higher level of functionality is usually demanded with operators wanting to control two or three functions proportionally and simultaneously.”
This all goes to show how innovation in components can translate to better machines.