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EM/MA2: Electro-Mechanical vs More electric Actuators for new systems designs

Tampere University
Area of focusTechnology

With 50-80% of their revenue coming from exports, non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) manufacturers are important to the Finnish economy. And because of the increasing move towards carbon-neutral and cost-effective solutions, global demand for new electric and hybrid designs is at an all-time high.

The partial or full electrification of NRMM calls for an extensive redesign of existing systems, which is subject to a set of case-dependent critical choices that must be made to establish value for the customer in terms of cost-effectiveness, reliability, sustainability, and system efficiency.

Traditional NRMM powertrain design is guided by duty cycle and size and weight limitations. As a result, overall system architectures have remained largely unchanged for decades. New electric and hybrid non-road mobile machinery coming to market must still satisfy existing requirements while being extensively redesigned to optimally utilize the benefits inherent to electrification.

A big part of this is system-level optimization (e.g., weight, performance) to improve energy efficiency and extend service life. One key design choice is the selection of the actuator solution. For example, a properly optimized hydraulic actuator system can improve energy efficiency by a factor of 10. Deciding on the best actuator approach is complex, and the decision must be made early in the design process, because it has a profound effect on the design of the structure and other machine systems. Complicating the issue, no tools currently exist that facilitate a systematic evaluation of potential solutions.

The control and behaviors of the main actuator components of a conventional hydraulic NRMM are straightforward. In electric designs, however, actuators can be designed with various levels of technological complexity depending on the planned level of electrification. This gives designers multiple ways to achieve their goals. Choosing the approach for each use case that best captures value for the customer, minimizes manufacturing cost, and keeps the product offering competitive is critical, and a toolset is needed that simplifies making this choice.

Funding source

Business Finland