Increasing development efforts in electrification has many who have traditionally used hydraulics and pneumatics considering replacing those components with electrified counterparts. While there are benefits to doing so, such as efficiency improvements, several factors must be considered.
Simply replacing hydraulic and pneumatic components with electric alternatives may not provide the desired results.
“With electrification, efficiency and weight are king,” said Jason Schneider, principal engineer—team lead, Electrified Powertrain at Drive System Design—an engineering consulting firm. “The less efficient you are, the more battery you need to carry which makes [the vehicle] heavier.”
He said the key consideration when electrifying is understanding the impacts of your chosen components on efficiency and weight. If designing a system in which part of it will be electrified but maintaining hydraulics or pneumatics, it may be necessary to consider modifying the design of those fluid power components to achieve weight and efficiency goals.
“If you’re going through the effort of getting into an electrification scheme, then you’re going to want to be looking at system-level attributes…and overall system-level goals,” said Schneider.
Although efficiency and weight are important, it is not always possible to create the most efficient or lightest weight system at the right costs. Therefore, it is important to conduct a system-level analysis to truly understand how all components will work together and whether design goals can be achieved.