Systems and Components to focus on sustainability and efficiency in mobile automation

The B2B platform for the supplier industry of the entire off-highway sector, which will be held as part of AGRITECHNICA at the Hanover exhibition grounds, is supported by the guiding theme: Green Efficiency – inspired by solutions.

This topic will be discussed among engineers and technical experts as part of the “Future Lounge” technical program, the digital trade forum of Systems & Components.

Green Efficiency – inspired by solutions, the guiding theme of Systems & Components, aptly describes the situation in which the designers of mobile machinery from agriculture, the construction industry and mining find themselves.

The vehicles are not only exposed to extreme weather conditions but also environmental conditions like temperature and contaminants, which place enormous demands on the robustness of the technologies and materials used. Added to this are the growing demands for digitalization and automation of the individual assemblies used in work machines. Intelligent mechatronic assemblies are increasingly being integrated to improve the precision and safety of mobile machinery. Above all, however, it is the desire to increase productivity and reduce the ecological footprint that now drives off-road technology developments.

The experts agree on one thing: Internal combustion engines will remain an important pillar in heavy off-highway applications in the medium to long term. They will continue to be used even after petrol engines in passenger cars have been replaced by alternative concepts. However, the ever stricter exhaust emission limits pose an increasing challenge for manufacturers of heavy-duty engines.

With the introduction of the EU Stage V emission standard, the permissible emission values have been pushed down even further. At Systems & Components, this will result in a more energy-efficient engine portfolio that combines emission specifications and market requirements. In order to comply with the particle number limit, which has been a legal requirement since 2019, exhibitors are focusing on modular exhaust aftertreatment, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalysts and particulate filters.

In addition, on the agenda in Hanover are further technical concepts that aim to achieve maximum flexibility in fuel selection – an important aspect on the way to a carbon-neutral future that is being discussed in the digital trade forums of the “Future Lounge”. The presentations will also deal with the use of so-called e-fuels or power-to-liquid fuels, as well as the large area of e-mobility. Modular scalable drive trains and downsizing promise measurable cost and emission advantages.

Systems & Components shows how off-highway electrification works in practice. This trend is reflected at the trade fair grounds in hybrid concepts that combine smaller and lower-emission diesel engines with electric drives and lithium-ion batteries.

The solutions represent a further option, especially for low-load applications in material handling and compact construction machinery. The electric motor is mechanically connected to the diesel engine via a gearbox with an integrated disconnect clutch. This also enables the vehicle to operate purely electrically. Another advantage of hybridization is the option of implementing additional functions for energy recovery or of operating auxiliary units such as the Power Take-off (PTO) electrically. The electrification solutions offered by the system suppliers range from motors and inverters to hydraulic pumps, transmissions and battery solutions. In the “Future Lounge”, the digital trade forum of Systems & Components, this topic is discussed in-depth among engineers and technical experts.

Designing digitalization as a sustainability engine for agriculture is another aspect that Systems & Components is aiming at with its guiding theme

“Green Efficiency – inspired by solutions”. The prerequisite for this is the intelligent and targeted management of agricultural land – in line with Precision Farming, a mega-trend which the exhibitors in Hanover will address with intelligent solutions. The aim is always to obtain a differentiated knowledge of all essential aspects of the field and crops with the help of various sensor systems. As a result, the demands for precision, safety and performance in the field are increasing.

Seed drills, fertilizing and harvesting machines are being digitally upgraded step by step. They are being networked with the tractor and act increasingly autonomously. The advent of Machine to Machine (M2M) communication not only makes it possible to control agricultural implements from the tractor cab but with TIM, the Tractor-Implement Management system, it also works the other way round.

Already today, seed drills, sprayers or balers equipped with TIM technology can give commands to a tractor via the ISOBUS to independently optimize their work flow. Even though by no means all devices are equipped with this feature in practice: The steadily growing number of electronically controlled components is pushing the ISOBUS architecture to its performance limits. Ethernet-based backbones are paving the way for high bandwidths, as required for real-time M2M communication or cloud-based diagnostic functions. Which bus system is the future – the high-speed ISOBUS, which is currently being worked on at as a priority, or the open source protocol POWERLINK – is likely to be one of the main topics of discussion at the B2B trade fair.

In addition to GPS positioning systems, the prerequisite for autonomous and semi-autonomous working machines are above all sensors for short and long-distance monitoring. Their task is to detect objects and persons in the vicinity, to relieve the driver, and therefore ultimately to prevent injury and damage to man and machine. In the development of 3D cameras, LiDAR sensors or laser scanners, ultrasonic and tilt sensors, encoders and inductive proximity sensors, as well as intelligent assistance systems, the exhibitors at Systems & Components rely on a broad range of technologies.

Recent innovations include steer-by-wire technologies, where the steering column can be removed and replaced, allowing smaller, more precise mechanisms such as joysticks or mini steering wheels. The result is solutions that not only provide additional flexibility in cockpit design, but also help to reduce the operator’s workload, therefore improving productivity.

The outlook for Systems & Components shows: It will take several more years before electrically driven and autonomously driving working machines dominate construction sites and agricultural land. With industry know-how and a broad portfolio of digital technologies, the exhibitors at the Hanover trade fair grounds will accompany the upcoming change in the off-highway sector. Technically, the way to automated driving is already paved by assistance systems and sensor technology. But which approaches promise the greatest success for practical application? From 14 to 20 November 2021, Systems & Components will provide answers to this question and invite discussion on the opportunities and challenges of new technologies.


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