Electrified Hydraulics is a Safe Step Towards Sustainability

The green transition is well underway, and more and more people are making the right choice by switching to electrified mobile machinery and industrial vehicles. However, a complete transition to electric vehicles can be perceived as a big step into a new and unknown world. Hybrid technologies that only electrify parts of a vehicle can be the golden mean – and one of the best hybrid solutions is called electrified hydraulics.

Hemsida_Image V1_Regamotion_EV tittar Elektrohydraulik

Electric vehicles and machinery have developed at a rapid pace in recent years. They have become smarter, more agile and more productive, which is incredibly positive – electric vehicles are an important part of a sustainable development.

Today, industrial vehicles are electrified in all industries, not least in the construction and contracting industry. But many other types of machinery are also fully or partially electrified, such as forestry and agricultural machinery.

Regal Components is one of the companies working on electrifying mobile machinery and industrial vehicles, and for them, electric drive is both the right choice and the smart choice.

By electrifying a vehicle, you save a lot of energy, and you have a greater chance of getting a proactive system instead of a reactive one. An electric motor is easier to control than an internal combustion engine, and the system reads and analyzes what the driver wants to do – and does it. It's one step ahead. When you make the sustainable choice to electrify, you get a lot of smartness for free, says Emil Vestman, project manager at Regal.

Choosing a fully electrified machine is of course the best choice for the environment. But it is currently not possible for everyone. With a hybrid solution in your vehicle, you still make an active choice to be part of a sustainable tomorrow, without having to be afraid that you have bitten off more than you can chew.

And among hybrid solutions, there is a solution that stands out when it comes to energy optimization – electrified hydraulics.

Fossil Fuel-driven Hydraulics are Inefficient

If you look at the fuel consumption in vehicles with on-board hydraulics, such as excavators and forwarders, the hydraulic system accounts for a large part of the total energy use.

Today’s hydraulic systems build up pressure with the help of a pump driven by an internal combustion engine, and they are very inefficient. All the energy that is built up in the system but not used for movement is wasted, and to satisfy the largest consumer in the hydraulic system, all other consumers need to have an overpressure.

“But the waste of energy is something that many have not given much thought, because they have had diesel engines. The internal combustion engine has such a low efficiency that the rest of the system appears relatively efficient. But it’s time to start working smart,” says Emil Vestman.

With an electrified hydraulic system, the system only runs when it is in use. The rest of the time, it can be completely turned off, unlike when the hydraulics are driven by an internal combustion engine that must be running even when the hydraulics are not in use.

It is also possible to get a hydraulic system that only activates parts of the system thanks to electrification. In this way, you can generate flow only in the parts of the system that require the energy for a movement.

Electrifying the on-board hydraulics means that you not only replace a harmful energy source with a sustainable one, but also significantly reduce energy consumption in the machine. That is yet another reason to move beyond the diesel engine as soon as possible.

Demands for Sustainable Solutions are Increasing in Sweden

For now, diesel-powered vehicles are still allowed and used in most cases, although the opportunities for this are dwindling. More and more clients now require work to be done using vehicles that are fossil fuel-free, especially in the public sector.

Currently, there are no laws that force an immediate transition, but actors in the private and public sectors have set up their own guidelines and requirements for themselves and their subcontractors.

22 industries have established industry-specific roadmaps that collectively lead to “Fossil-free Sweden,” the initiative to make Sweden one of the world’s first fossil fuel-free welfare countries.

Several industries face major challenges as a result, many of which are related to industrial machinery. Agriculture, which accounts for an estimated 15% of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial machinery, aims to be 100% fossil fuel-free by 2030.

Electrifying an entire vehicle fleet in seven years is not possible, so a key component will be to switch to alternative, non-fossil fuels. Fossil-free fuels will be scarce, and prices will be higher than today’s prices for diesel and gasoline, making efficient machines with low fuel consumption a necessity.

Even our major cities have set sustainability goals. City of Stockholm is leading the “Fossil-free 2030” project for a fossil-independent vehicle fleet within 7 years, and City of Malmö’s fleet is almost entirely made up of electric and gas vehicles. City of Göteborg has similar plans during the same time period.

An example of how far the development has already come is ‘Slakthusområdet’ in Stockholm. A large urban development project is currently underway to transform the district into a residential area, and City of Stockholm has decided that it will be done entirely without the use of fossil fuels. This makes the area Sweden’s largest fossil fuel-free workplace.

Electric forestry machine

Electrified Hydraulics – a Great Step Forward

Even though we are currently in the midst of a sustainable development, there is still a long way to go. For many, fully electrified vehicles seem like a new and too big step to take. But it’s better to do something, than nothing at all – and a safe step in the right direction is electrified hydraulics.

Electrifying the on-board hydraulics in mobile machinery or a vehicle is cheaper and simpler than investing in a machine or vehicle that is fully electrified. The transition to a fossil-free operation becomes smoother and the efforts required are reduced.

Investing in a vehicle with electrified hydraulics allows you to make your operations more energy-efficient with green energy, without having to deal with many of the challenges that the technology still faces.

An example of the use of electrified hydraulics is to put a battery electric loader crane on a diesel truck. In these cases, the truck is turned off when you arrive at the work site, and the crane is instead powered electrically from its own battery. Loading and unloading the truck’s cargo usually consumes around 3 liters of diesel per hour, a consumption that is reduced to zero with an electrified hydraulic system. But at the same time, you can still get home after the work is done, even if the battery is completely depleted.

It is also easy to install batteries with sufficient capacity, as the batteries for the hydraulic system are much smaller than full-scale vehicle batteries.

Usually, a battery lasts for a whole workday, and the operator can charge the battery overnight, says Emil Vestman.

Environments with poor charging infrastructure, which are otherwise difficult to work in with electric vehicles, do not need to be a hindrance for vehicles with hybrid solutions such as e-hydraulics.

Better Working Environment with Electrified Hydraulics

Another environmental aspect that is significantly improved with electrified hydraulics is the immediate environment for the vehicle operator. With an electrified hydraulic system, the combustion engine can be turned off while the vehicle is stationary.

Without the diesel engine’s high noise level, it becomes easier to communicate around the vehicle during work and to maintain attention to what is happening in the surroundings. The high noise level and emissions from a combustion engine are also one of the things that are no longer accepted from a municipal perspective in many urban environments.

Electrifying the on-board hydraulics makes the working environment around the machine safer and more secure for everyone.

Emil Vestman Regal Components

30 Years of Electrification

Many perceive electrification as a new and unfamiliar phenomenon, which can also be a bit frightening when it changes the conditions in an industry. But for Regal, electrification is nothing new. They have been working with it for over 30 years.

We have been doing this for a very long time. Sure, electrification is coming strong in many new areas, but for example, forklifts, where much of this technology has its roots, have been electric since the 40s and 50s, says Emil Vestman.

Emil and his colleagues at Regal have extensive experience with electrification in various forms, and they offer both fully electric drive systems and various hybrid solutions for mobile machines and vehicles. And they help each manufacturer find the right solution and the right combination of electrical components for their particular machine.

If you want to find out more about our solutions for electrified hydraulics visit the product page:
Regamotion electrified hydraulics

Or contact Emil Vestman to learn more.