Komatsu Forest
Komatsu Forest has established a new design department focused on the electrification of forestry machinery.

This Week in Power & Motion: Komatsu to Electrify Forestry Machines

Aug. 18, 2023
Komatsu Forest has created a new department dedicated to development of electric forestry equipment, Emerson acquires electric linear motion company to expand factory automation solutions and more industry news you may have missed.

There is much going on in the world of hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics motion systems, from technology introductions and industry advancements to new trends and industry leaders. Each week the Power & Motion team collects some of the latest industry news to help keep our readers up to date on what's happening in the fluid power and motion control sectors as well as the industries they serve.

Emerson Acquires Afag to Expand Factory Automation Capabilities

Emerson has signed an agreement to acquire Afag Holding AG, a developer of electric linear motion as well as feeding and handling automation solutions. The acquisition will add more factory automation capabilities to Emerson's product portfolio. 

Bringing Afag's electric linear motion technology together with Emerson's pneumatic motion products will help to create a wide breadth of solutions for customers in the factory automation space which will continue to grow as manufacturers look to overcome labor challenges. 

Afag's technology is used in an array of markets including battery manufacturing, automotive, packaging, medical, life sciences and electronics  all of which are expected to be continued growth markets in the coming years.

"As discrete and hybrid customers continue to accelerate electrification across their manufacturing processes, Afag's technology is ideally suited to provide improved energy efficiency and performance gains. We look forward to combining Afag's motion capabilities with our existing pneumatic leadership, creating a unique and differentiated solution for our customers," said Ram Krishnan, chief operating officer of Emerson, in the company's press release announcing the acquisition. 

READ MORE: Optimizing Linear Motion Solutions Using Hybrid Automation Systems

Mechanical Simulation Adds New Capabilities for Off-Highway Vehicle Designs

The latest version of Mechanical Simulation Corp.'s VehicleSim design software includes new features and enhancements, many of which will benefit the design of vehicles and systems used in off-highway applications such as construction, defense and agriculture. 

Release 2023.1 adds alternate steering methods to the software portfolio including differential steering (common in skid steers) and hydrostatic articulation. Doing so provides greater insights for design teams into vehicle dynamics so they can ensure development of optimized systems capable of working in various ground and weather conditions. 

AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions Combines with Bison Gear

AMETEK is combining its AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions business with Bison Gear and Engineering Corp. — which it acquired in May 2023. The newly created business will be called Bison®, a business of AMETEK Inc. and offer a range of products for which the previously separate brands are known, including fluid-moving and mechanical solutions as well as electric motors, gear motors and more. 

The consolidated engineering team will continue to provide tailored products for a wide range of applications. Three engineering laboratories in Ohio, Illinois and China will help the newly combined brand serve customers around the world with the design, testing, qualification and rapid prototyping of products.

"By combining the strengths of AMETEK DFS and Bison Gear and Engineering Corp., the new Bison® business will meet the evolving needs of customers worldwide in various industries and applications, including agriculture, combustion, construction, energy, floorcare, food and beverage, industrial machinery, medical, motion control and more," said Matt Fuss, Division Vice President and Business Unit Manager at Bison®, in the company's press release announcing the newly combined company. "Together, our dedication to delivering the highest quality motors, blowers and pumps combined with our customization, integration and manufacturing expertise gives our customers the winning edge in today’s highly competitive, global marketplace." 

READ MORE: How Company Mergers Bring Expanded Market Opportunities

Komatsu Creates New Design Department for Electrification of Forestry Machines

Komatsu Forest has created a new design department focused on the electrification of forestry equipment. The new department will help the company with its efforts to reduce emissions from its machinery as well as its own operations. 

According to the company, it is seeing increased interest from customers and industry partners to reduce the environmental impacts of forestry machines. "We aim to reduce CO2 emissions from our products by 50% by 2030 and expect to have something on the market before then," said Peter Hasselryd, VP Marketing & Sales at Komatsu Forest, in the company's press release announcing the new design department.

While electrification of forestry equipment can provide many benefits, the company said there are also many challenges associated with electrifying these types of machines. Like other off-highway applications, charging infrastructure presents difficulties due to the remote locations and lack of grid connectivity. Therefore, the company will look at using different types of energy media and energy distribution solutions will need to be taken into consideration.

Komatsu said in its press release there will also need to be development of new technologies and system solutions, as well as industry partnerships. 

The company plans to gradually expand the new design department and is looking for people with a range of skill sets to ensure optimized electric forestry equipment development. "We are looking for electric vehicle developers, hardware and software developers, computational engineers, application engineers in energy, hydraulics and mechanics, but we also see that we need new competencies in areas such as vehicle certification and testing, all with a genuine interest in developing products and solutions for a sustainable future," said Erik Nilsson, CTO of Komatsu Forest.

READ MORE: The Impacts of Electrification on Fluid Power Systems

Semiconductor Company Collaborates with GM on Electric Drive System

NexGen Power Systems Inc., a developer of Vertical GaN semiconductors, is collaborating with General Motors to develop an electric drive system using NexGen's technology. The collaboration is part of a project funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE).   

Per NexGen's press release announcing the collaboration, the companies are looking to improve the efficiency, performance, and overall sustainability of electric vehicles. This will be achieved by focusing development efforts on power electronics design, motor integration, thermal management, and system-level optimization for electric drive systems.

NexGen's GaN semiconductors are available in 700 and 1,200V options to meet the needs of high-power applications. The current version of the 1,200V model has demonstrated >1 MHz switching at 1.4kV rated voltage which the company states will help manufacturers continue improving the performance, reliability and efficiency of their electric vehicle designs. 

"This collaboration will help us introduce Vertical GaN based inverter drive systems to the electric vehicle market and will help enable auto makers to improve range, reduce weight, and enhance system reliability," said Shahin Sharifzadeh, Chief Executive Officer of NexGen, in the company's press release. 

RS Expands DesignSpark Capabilities

RS Group has further expanded the capabilities of its DesignSpark online tool for engineers by adding a Product Design Center. This new feature provides technical information about the various electronic components available from RS. 

With the new Product Design Center comes an expanded CAD library as well as product data along with environmental and lifecycle information and 3D models, footprints and schematics. Those with subscriptions to the online tool will be able to access a range of other products as well such as compliance information, technical attributes, predictive lifecycle and more. 

"We’ve worked closely with Accuris (formerly S&P Global Engineering Solutions) to deliver this substantial increase in product information, which can be crucial to design engineers who need to ensure that components and products are safe, fit for purpose, or have less impact on the environment," said Mike Bray, VP of Innovation and DesignSpark at RS, in the company's press release announcing the enhancements to the online tool.

About the Author

Sara Jensen | Technical Editor, Power & Motion

Sara Jensen is technical editor of Power & Motion, directing expanded coverage into the modern fluid power space, as well as mechatronic and smart technologies. She has over 15 years of publishing experience. Prior to Power & Motion she spent 11 years with a trade publication for engineers of heavy-duty equipment, the last 3 of which were as the editor and brand lead. Over the course of her time in the B2B industry, Sara has gained an extensive knowledge of various heavy-duty equipment industries — including construction, agriculture, mining and on-road trucks —along with the systems and market trends which impact them such as fluid power and electronic motion control technologies. 

You can follow Sara and Power & Motion via the following social media handles:

X (formerly Twitter): @TechnlgyEditor and @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @SaraJensen and @Power&Motion

Facebook: @PowerMotionTech

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