How Integrating Sensors Positions Hydraulic Equipment for Success

ifm’s inclination sensors installed on the upper and lower structure and on the moving parts of the crane’s boom. The sensors can be set to the precise angles that define any working area of the boom for perfect alignment and control.

Sensors have taken off in a big way in all manners of mobile and industrial equipment. As component costs have decreased and the manufacturing processes behind this technology have become more established, it’s become easier than ever for machinery manufacturers to integrate sensors throughout their hydraulic equipment.

What’s more, there are endless reasons for machinery manufacturers to pursue this type of integration. Hydraulic systems may be perfectly positioned to benefit from the integration of a range of sensor types; for instance, sensors further enhance the precise positioning, smooth acceleration, and exceptional motion control for which hydraulic systems are well known.

Benefits of sensor integration: examples across industries

The following examples demonstrate how machinery and equipment manufacturers can integrate their electronic and hydraulic systems for greater impact.

  • Sensors boost the productivity of crop sprayers by ensuring even, adequate distribution of pesticides or other chemicals. GPS guidance moves the vehicle with precision across a field, while carefully integrated electronics and hydraulics increase or decrease pump displacement in accordance with speed. The result is minimum waste and maximum efficiency.
    • Concrete pumps benefit from sensors that ensure boom stability. In applications where boom lengths may stretch over 200 feet, tip oscillation can be significant and may lead workers to decrease pumping speeds to minimize waste. Today’s stability control sensors work in conjunction with electrohydraulic mobile valves to reduce oscillation, leading to more consistent pumping and safer working conditions.
    • Crane sensors play a similar role. Hydraulic pressure sensors can be used on outriggers to ensure stability. They can also gauge the load pressure conditions of hydraulic arms to ensure the boom does not exceed its capabilities. In this case, accuracy ensures safety.
  • Sensors are also making hydraulic mining equipment safer and more efficient. In fact, a range of sensors including GNSS, radar and LiDAR technology allows for the remote control of some bulldozers, excavators, and other equipment. Mine operators can minimize the amount of work manually performed below ground with highly sensitive hydraulic equipment working below ground while operated safely from the surface.

Effective sensor integration

For equipment designers and manufacturers, this type of integration means the days of keeping electrical and mechanical systems separate in hydraulic equipment are long gone. Today, virtually every piece of your equipment will have some electrical element thread through it, and that’s only going to increase in the future.

The good news is that sensors are becoming simpler to integrate into new designs and, in many cases, into preexisting machinery. It’s easier than ever to find sensors on the market with features that support your specific needs.

Machinery and mobile equipment manufacturers will find many of these suppliers at the International Fluid Power Exposition (IFPE), March 14-18, 2023, in Las Vegas. Located within CONEXPO-CON/AGG, IFPE provides an unmatched opportunity to harness the power of in-person connection. Engineers can meet with potential partners to discuss processes for streamlining the integration of sensors with hydraulic systems, all with the latest innovations in fluid power at their fingertips.

Learn more about the show and the endless possibilities that come with collaboration on the front lines of fluid power. Take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today

About the Author

Carl Dyke is the founder and chief educational officer of CD Industrial Group Inc. (CDIG). He has spent the last 20 years dividing his time between hydraulics and electronics training across a wide range of industries, including construction and mining machinery. Today, Dyke leads a team of artists and programmers in developing eye-popping images and animations to support industrial training. CDIG's online learning platform are used in nearly 100 countries by technicians, students, and instructors. Dyke continues to devote much of his schedule to the classroom and has made teaching appearances all over the world.


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