Components: Attention to detail

By Thomas Allen17 May 2017


In the evolution of construction equipment, innovation has been made upon innovation, to the point where some of the greatest margins of improvement are to be found in the fine detail.

The pieces of machinery used in the construction industry are often impressively large, but it is by tweaking the components that their power, durability and efficiency can be significantly augmented. And this usually involves making use of the latest technologies.

For this reason, common themes in current component innovation include close attention to detail and the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies – often with the aim of collecting data and making equipment more durable in order to cut costs.

One company that has received recognition for its attention to detail is Groeneveld.

It supplies oil management and automatic lubrication systems to leading manufacturers of buses, trucks, trailers, and construction and mining equipment.

After three years of working with a Total Quality Management (TQM) approach, two of the Dutch-based company’s Italian manufacturing plants recently attained the ISO/TS 16949 certification of quality.

Considered the highest quality standard in the automotive industry, it goes beyond the well-known ISO 9001 standard, which Groeneveld has satisfied since the early 1990s.

Like the ISO 9001, the ISO/TS 16949 is geared towards process quality, but it sets out in more emphatic terms the requirements for the quality management system regarding the design, development, production and installation of automotive-related products.

The standard places greater emphasis on aspects such as continuous improvement and the prevention of mistakes and waste. As such, it is much more closely involved with production staff and is more in tune with tools such as Six Sigma – a set of management techniques for reducing the probability of errors – and Kaizen – the cultivation of a business culture that seeks continual improvement.

Ron den Engelsen, CEO of Groeneveld group, said, “The ISO/TS certification marks a significant milestone on our path to world class manufacturing and emphasises the quality of our organisation and processes.”

Room for improvement

In the same spirit of constantly finding room for improvement, Flybrid – owned by UK-based Torotrak – presented its new flywheel-based hybrid technology at IMechE’s Off-Highway Vehicles seminar in Birmingham, UK, this April.

It recovers energy from the flywheel in order to improve fuel consumption and productivity by delivering high hybrid power.

In recognition of the fact that the off-highway market is characterised by a large variety of specialised machines designed for a broad range of tasks, Flybrid has developed a flexible standardised and modular family of flywheel hybrid systems.

In the 600 series, Flybrid covers energy storage requirements from 150kJ to 600kJ in three flywheel specifications that feature common flywheel tooling, housing, ancillaries and sensors.

They can be connected to off-highway machines either through standard third party hydraulic pumps and motors, electric motors and generators, or a variable mechanical transmission.

Tobias Knichel, Flybrid’s business development director, said about the hybrid system, “It improves efficiency in two ways – by capturing energy that would otherwise be wasted during a vehicle’s operating cycle, and releasing it during the next cycle, and by providing an on-board power boost which means that engines can often be downsized or downspeeded to further improve fuel consumption.”

Applications that can benefit from the system include raising and lowering the boom of an excavator or the mast on a reach stacker, shuttling between forward and reverse with a loader, and slewing an excavator.

When pre-charged to a high level, the flywheel system can provide a reliable power boost of over 1000kW in the largest systems developed so far.

And with a design life of over 20,000 hours in extreme operating conditions, it is made to last.


Durability was also a central concern for Bell Flow Systems when choosing a flow meter to implement at Hinkley Point in the UK.

With the ten-year construction scheme for the nuclear power station now underway, a temporary jetty and sea wall had to be erected for the delivery of materials by sea. As a result, water needed to be pumped from the sea to other areas in order to preserve marine life.

For the pump, Bell had to provide a flow sensor that met four key demands of the application.

The first was compatibility with seawater. The maintenance-free electromagnetic measuring technology operates without mechanical moving parts, which not only prolongs the life of the sensor but also means that it can be used with fluids that may contain solids, such as sand and organic matter.

Another challenge that the component had to face was tough weather conditions. Since the amplifier comes with the option of either IP67 or IP68 ingress protection, it was capable of withstanding the environmental conditions at Hinkley Point.

This electromagnetic flow meter was also chosen because it is internally powered by a battery with up to 20 years of life, making it suitable for applications where power is not available.

Finally, and importantly, the meter is said to be accurate. It is able to log the volume of water pumped with an accuracy greater than ±0.4%. Furthermore, the integral data logger makes it possible to record and store measurements at programmable time intervals, which can then be downloaded to PC software via IrDA or RS232 ModBus communication ports.

Keeping record

Keeping record is also of key importance with Doosan’s new fleet management system.

In response to the recent increase in demand for fleet monitoring, Doosan has introduced a state-of-the-art wireless fleet and asset management system that provides machine-to-machine communication, machine intelligence and remote equipment monitoring for use on the company’s excavator, wheeled loader and articulated dump truck ranges.

The web-based solution allows machine owners to keep track remotely of the performance and security of their machines via the DoosanConnect telematics website.

The system provides comprehensive machine data in a dual mode – through satellite communication and mobile networks – that can be compiled into reports on fleet status, machine details and location, operating hours, fuel usage, engine idle time versus work time, and maintenance history, to name a few.

Although specifically designed for the new generation Doosan excavators, wheeled loaders and articulated dump trucks (ADTs) that are Stage IV compliant, the system is also available for retrofitting in a kit form. It also comes with a free three-year subscription.

The system comprises a GPS unit for monitoring location and establishing a geo-fence for security, a Q-Pro wireless data modem to send machine data to the DoosanConnect telematics website, a satellite antenna and service to provide a communication link when the equipment is being used in remote locations that lack cellular service, and the DoosanConnect website which gives access to useful reports and important machine data.


The technology specialist Laird has also been busy developing solutions for greater connectivity.

Its newly released Sentrius RG1xx Enterprise Internet of Things (EIoT) low-power, long-range LoRa gateway is designed to enable the deployment of EIoT networks in practically any geographical location, even where traditional communications infrastructure is unavailable.

Scott Lordo, senior vice president of Laird, said, “The Sentrius RG1xx has been purpose-built from the ground up to create a secure, scalable, robust LoRa network solution.

“The RG1xx, paired with the other elements of Laird’s growing Sentrius LPWAN ecosystem, enables cost-effective and end-to-end control of public and private LoRa networks alike.”

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers are given the elements necessary to accelerate EIoT development for challenging industrial settings and applications, from smart metering to equipment monitoring and municipal asset management.

In industrial automation, for example, full-scale networks can be used to track assets spread across vast facilities. The system’s ten-mile reach can be extended to hundreds of miles by deploying additional gateways.

The LoRa gateway is equipped with Laird’s enterprise grade 802.11 a/b/g/n MIMO WiFi, wired Ethernet, Bluetooth and BLE connectivity, enabling integration of key short-range low-power wireless technologies with low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technology.

Providing secure, bi-directional data transfer over long distances for years without needing a change of battery, the system is said to eliminate the need for network carrier subscriptions.

New technology

Caterpillar has been integrating new technology into the components of its machines with the introduction of a fully automatic, four-speed, power-shift transmission with an integral lock-up clutch in its new D6T dozer.

Aside from optimising performance and achieving fuel savings of up to 20% in heavy work and 30% in light work, the new transmission makes the dozer easier to operate, said Cat.

Once the desired ground speed has been chosen, the four-speed transmission sets the powertrain for optimum efficiency by automatically choosing the appropriate gear and engine speed for the operating conditions.

A gear has also been added between the first and second ranges, allowing for smoother shifting and the maintenance of power to ground during load changes.

By keeping the machine in the most efficient mode for a higher percentage of time, Caterpillar estimated that it improved productivity by two-and-a-half times.

In addition to this, the D6T comes with a choice of Cat Connect Grade technologies that enhance the dozer’s accuracy. These range from simple grade indicators to full factory-integrated GPS.

Cat Grade with Slope Assist automatically maintains a pre-established blade position without the need for added hardware or a GPS signal.

Cat Slope Indicate displays the machine’s cross-slope and fore/aft orientation on the primary monitor, improving accuracy on slopes.

The operator’s blade-control input can be complemented by Cat Stable Blade to achieve finish grades faster and with less effort.

The most advanced option is Cat Grade with 3D, which provides three-dimensional guidance both for production dozing and fine grading. The system features roof-mounted antennas and includes the AutoCarry system, which adjusts the blade for optimum load retention.

Another interesting feature that relates back to the theme of connectivity is the D6T’s Cat Product Link telematics system, which feeds pertinent data back to the online VisionLink interface, such as machine location, fuel usage, idle time and diagnostic codes.

IPD – a leading aftermarket manufacturer of engine parts for heavy-duty diesel engines – has launched new repair parts for heavy-duty Caterpillar C18, C27 and C32 engines.

Engineered and manufactured by the company, the IPDSteel friction welded pistons are described as one of the more recent evolutionary designs used in construction industry engines.

The pistons are packaged in IPD cylinder kits that include the rings, pin, cylinder liner and retainers. They are offered with a choice of cylinder liners – either the original style or IPD’s creative seal design, which reduces liner movement by providing a more secure fitment. This extends the life of the o-rings.

IPD repair parts are available for a wide range of construction equipment applications, from tractors and off-highway trucks to dozers, haulers and generators.

Explosion proof

Offering not just durability but also greater safety, Swedish-based Hammerglass Automotive has received a record number of orders for its explosion-proof Hammerglass solutions.

The order was placed by the Norwegian-based contractor Hæhre, which decided to have Hammerglass solutions retrofitted to 41 of its Caterpillar excavators.

“For us, primarily, this order means a big breakthrough into the Norwegian market,” said Hammerglass managing director Bengt Nilsson.

In 2010, the Swedish Work Environment Authority introduced legislation requiring that machines working in environments where there is a risk of undetonated explosives, or large rocks hitting the machine, should have adequate driver protection.

Hammerglass became a pioneer in the development of such protection, conducting extensive tests and contributing to the creation of new safety standards.

The solution that Hammerglass came up with consisted of a sturdy steel RABS (restricted access barrier system) frame bolted to the driver’s cab and fitted with a 12mm Hammerglass screen. In front of that was mounted a 4mm Hammerglass sacrificial screen to protect against the constant barrage of rock fragments and gravel caused by quarrying with hydraulic hammers.

The system has been tested in the FOPS (falling object protection system) class and so can replace the grill with which many machines are equipped.

Hammerglass said the system had become more or less standard practice in tougher working environments in Sweden and was now on the way to achieving the same status in Norway.

Site safety

Genie, part of the Terex brand, has also contributed to site safety with its new Lift Guard Contact Alarm system.

Engineered as an electronic secondary guarding system, it can provide additional operator protection by activating an alarm that alerts others to the fact that the operator might need help.

Marie Engstrom, Genie product manager, Terex AWP, said, “This new configuration is a significantly different design from its predecessor, the Genie Operator Protective Alarm (the former OPA).”

Configured as a standard accessory on most new Genie Z and Genie S boom lifts, and available for retrofitting on units dating back to 2003, the system features an activation cable fitted above the boom lift’s platform control panel. When pressure is applied to the cable, it disconnects and activates the system.

When it is activated, all the machine’s lift and drive functions are halted and the alarm sounds and beacons flash.

Normal machine functions cannot resume without the activation cable being clicked back into place.

Described as robust, simple to use and unobtrusive for the operator, the system is functional only when the footswitch is depressed and it can reduce the risk of operators applying unintentional contact pressure on the boom’s control panel.

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has innovated a new process for evaluating the corrosion resistance of diesel cylinder liners.

By allowing for direct comparison between different materials and coating processes, it enables Federal-Mogul Powertrain to supply more durable components for challenging applications where increased wear on ferrous cylinder bore surfaces is caused by more sulphur-rich fuel and increasing rates of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation).

Gian Maria Olivetti, chief technology officer at Federal-Mogul Powertrain, said, “Advanced thermally sprayed liner solutions, like our Sprayfit thin-walled liner, could combine effective heat dissipation with the benefit of a wide range of wear resistant surfaces.

“However, it remains necessary to evaluate the performance of alternative material choices in a reliable way and we now have a proven process to achieve this.”

Federal-Mogul Powertrain’s new procedure for comparing the corrosion resistance of different materials during engine operation enables the company to unpick the complex relationship between mechanical wear and corrosion, and independently evaluate
the two.

It can then identify the most resistant materials for both bulk applications and surface coatings.

Resistant materials

Moving from the inside of the machine to the outside, Sandvik has been developing resistant materials for fortifying external structures.

Its new HX900 wear plates claim to have the longest wear life on the market.

Made of a material that combines the wear resistance of cemented carbide with the shock resistance, ductility and forming capability of nodular iron – it has 80 to 90% of the strength of pure nodular iron – the wear segments are available as buttons, runners and bars.

In button form, the dome shape gives maximum protection and minimises the effect of impact. The round shape also virtually eliminates the risk of weld crack propagating into the parent material.

As runners, they can be used to protect large areas, such as on the bottom of buckets.

And as bars, they can be used to form a mosaic pattern that counters highly abrasive applications. The mild steel backing plate is notched so that it can easily be cut into smaller pieces if required.

All of these applications help to maintain the original shape of vital equipment surfaces, including crushers, loader buckets, chutes and excavators.

They can be used in places that are inaccessible for installing wear liners, and with a wear resistance that exceeds that of common hardened steel, Ni-hard, hard facing and ceramics by up to 15 times, the plates might offer a better alternative to conventional wear protection.

Furthermore, the wear life of HX900 wear segments is said to be about five times longer than white iron and 20 times longer than quenched steel, which means fewer stops and less maintenance.

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