Electrification of machinery and vehicles within forestry and agriculture face unique challenges compared to automotive applications. As forestry and agricultural machinery operate in rural or off-grid areas there is limited, or no access to charging infrastructure. A wide range of duty cycles, operating hours and often seasonal use are also obstacles then electrifying forestry and agricultural machinery.
Some machines are in operation non-stop during a full day or even several work shift during high season. In these cases is the cost and weight of a large battery high, and downtime due to charging during operation is not acceptable. In the other end of the range is specialized machinery only used for a specific task or during a limited time period during the season, as the utilization rate is low is the cost of a battery electric system significant. In addition, the production volumes are small which makes it even more difficult to launch new innovative solutions, especially for small or medium sizes companies.
Electrification of machinery and vehicles within forestry and agriculture face unique challenges.
To address these challenges an R&D project coordinated by RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden AB, started. Regal in a collaboration with companies within battery technology and machine builders from forestry and agriculture, team up with RISE to develop a modular battery swap system and electrify a combi forestry machine (forwarder and harvester combo) and an autonomous tractor. The goal is a functional battery swap system together with an electric combi forestry machine and an electric autonomous tractor that can be demonstrated at fairs during summer 2022.
With a modular battery swap system is the battery of a machine interchangeable. In this way can a discharged battery be changed to a fully charged battery, thus reduces downtime for charging and the battery can be recharged elsewhere if access to charging infrastructure is limited.
This also enable batteries to be shared among machinery, this improves the utilization rate of the battery as the battery always is used by a machine in operation. One step further is for machine owners to rent the battery when needed during the season. In this way the battery can utilized by ex. agriculture during the spring and snow maintenance equipment during winter.
Regal Components part in the project
Working towards a tight deadline with full demonstrations planned in less than a year from project start, Regal will perform system simulations to get a detailed view of how different electrification solutions will perform under different conditions. Modelling the sub systems and complete machines in advance is an important step to make sure the prototype vehicles will perform as intended as the battery swap concept is put through field testing.
Modelling the sub systems and complete machines in advance is an important step to make sure the prototype vehicles will perform as intended
Both machines will be using mechanical transmissions with different layouts, the forestry machine will rely on a central traction motor while the autonomous tractor will have one motor powering each wheel. The control system of the forestry machine will have to provide the operator with a similar experience as the existing machines with major improvements in noise, vibration and harshness. The autonomous tractor on the other hand must be built so that it performs exactly as the navigation system expects it to.
In addition to the traction system, both machines will feature on-board hydraulics. On the autonomous tractor, the hydraulics is planned to be a highly efficient flow-on-demand system, where a newly developed fixed displacement pump will be controlled by a variable speed drive to provide the system with the exact flow needed at each point.
Participants and goals in the project:
– Development of a battery swap system for industrial vehicles with innovations from Powerswap AB and battery technology from Micropower AB.
– A fully functional prototype of an electric autonomous tractor from Traktorarvid AB with electric drive technology from Regal Components AB and battery technology from Micropower AB. It is among the first autonomous tractors in the world of this size at 5000 kg and 120 kW power.
– Electrification of a forestry machine from Malwa Forest AB with electric drive technology from Regal Components AB and battery technology from Micropower AB. The machine is a combi machine that converts between harvester and forwarder. This will be the first electric machine of this kind in the world.