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Cat pounces on electrohydraulics

March 20, 2007
Generic Valve Driver software from Caterpillar Electronics makes it easy to use Cat's electronic controls that are made for mobile equipment — such as this ladle carrier manufactured by Kress Corp. and used in a steel mill — with valves ...

Caterpillar has introduced the Generic Valve Driver (GVD) software module, for use with such Cat controls as the A5:M2. GVD was designed specifically for electrohydraulic applications in mobile equipment.

The GVD was originally designed to support Caterpillar M3PC valve groups but now is offered for all electrohydraulic control valves that use direct-acting or pilot-control solenoids. It allows OEMs to create relatively simple electrohydraulic control circuits with little or no custom engineering investment. It has configurable outputs of up to eight proportional electrohydraulic functions (four bi-directional functions) and two on/off electrohydraulic functions.

Generic Valve Driver software from Caterpillar Electronics makes it easy to use Cat's electronic controls that are made for mobile equipment — such as this ladle carrier manufactured by Kress Corp. and used in a steel mill — with valves from a variety of manufacturers.

Various operator inputs, such as joysticks, switches, or dials (analog, PWM, or CAN based) are available. All hardware, including operator controls and their respective inputs, can be selected and easily configured through a PC-based tool by the user.

Potential applications include:
Proportional control for undercarriage or conveyor speed, hydraulic pump swashplate position, (slew) rate limiting, input response transfer function for operator controls (joystick gain).
On/off control for conveyors and feeders, high/low undercarriage speed selections.
Emergency-stop function (remote control or on-machine) , and
Lockout inputs to prevent undesired functions while allowing other functions to operate normally (optional motion detection control that can prevent undesired motion due to component failure or a particular requirement of the machine).

If an application needs additional features not available in GVD, the designer can migrate to Cat's Application Configuration Environment Software (ACES) and still use the GVD software modules with new functions developed by the OEM.

Cat Electronics introduced the A5:M2 control in 2005 as its first controller designed for use in a range of off-highway equipment and certain on-road uses.

Although the controller is based on and leverages technologies used in Cat's engine controllers, Geoffrey Ginzel, Cat Electronics commercial systems engineering manager sees the A5:M2 as being more of an electrohydraulic system and transmission control.

The A5:M2 has a die-cast aluminum fully sealed housing with a 210 mm X 240 mm footprint. "A smaller footprint was one of the things customers were telling us they'd like to see but still maintain a sufficient I/O capability," according to Ginzel.

The A5:M2 maintains the standard 70-pin Cat connector. However, input pins can be configured individually, a key feature that allows system designers to choose more input options than ever before.

For more information, click here to visit Caterpillar OEM Solutions.

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