Hydraulic valves as a component of Industry 4.0.
What are the requirements of the market currently placed on hydraulic valves?
In addition to the usual features of the valve function, the reliability and a constant performance over the lifetime, we are currently seeing an increasing expectation regarding the robustness / insensitivity to the external conditions, such as extended temperature ranges, handling of contamination, voltage fluctuations etc. In addition, the issue of global availability should be mentioned.
What new technical possibilities are available?
At this point, a distinction should be made between the possibilities for the product itself and the product environment. The product environment with regard to availability is represented by the fact that international production standards and corresponding logistics concepts are implemented. With regard to the product, further possibilities arise through alternative materials themselves, or through newer methods of material treatment and production. Fundamentally, new possibilities also exist in designing the product more application-oriented and thereby generating advantages.
As far as the technical environment is concerned, topics regarding the non-functional properties continue to come to the fore, but this is to be seen depending on the product class. On the basis of the electronics already in use, added values such as communication, connectivity, self-monitoring, condition monitoring, etc. are further introduced. Also driven by the spread of I4.0, these points range from simple messages to the complex use of information based on existing fieldbus systems.
What about the integration of sensor technology in valves?
The willingness of the OEMs to use electronics and sensor technology in systems has been steadily increasing for years. Even under harsh operating conditions, electrical and electronic components can be used increasingly. The direct integration into the "valve" has rather played a subordinate role so far.
What other innovations in valve technology are relevant in your company?
- Industry 4.0 capability
Especially in the context of I4.0, the topic is being further developed, especially in the context of predictive maintenance. For this purpose, the communication capability of the component, the sensor system and the higher-level control must be ensured.
- New Materials see 2.)
- Energy efficiency
The issue of energy efficiency plays a decisive role in all developments / project planning. Regardless of whether component or system.
Miniaturization also is "design to needs" - design the product in such a way as to meet the requirements set by the application; this is not necessarily always related to the dimensions.
How do these trends impact your products?
In particular, the topics of the increased demands with regard to the environmental conditions (temperature, dirt), coupled with the specific requirements of the application, have been increasingly incorporated in our developments (direct-controlled proportional pressure reducing valves PP2P3). On the other hand, the topics of communication, decentralized intelligence and fieldbus capability have also found their way into new products such as the proportional directional valve with OBE - PRM9. In the field of valve technology, the increase of the energy efficiency is essentially driven by a reduction in the pressure losses or improvement in the flow characteristics. These approaches are already used in a variety of products.
Forecast: How will the valve technology continue to evolve over the next 10 years?
The interplay within a hydraulic system between valve, sensor and control is gaining in importance. This must be taken into account by the future development.
The component will be even more focused on the application, both constructively and functionally.
In both the system design and the valve design, shorter development times are to be expected.