Today, it seems like every piece of standard electronic or mechanical equipment has a smart equivalent. There are smart thermostats, refrigerators, coffee makers, and even self-driving cars. All of these are powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), which is basically just a fancy way of explaining that devices are capable of connecting to the internet.
While IoT technology is being widely used to automate household appliances and other daily tasks (like driving to work), it’s also being integrated into heavy equipment like hydraulic construction machinery.
The heavy machinery industry has seen many improvements in the last few decades, like the invention of quick connect couplers to prevent catastrophic hydraulic leaks, and now it’s time for hydraulic equipment to advance even more with IoT connectivity.
What does IoT have to do with hydraulics?
Hydraulic components rely on pressurized liquid for power. This technology has come a long way, but has had lingering inefficiencies. Today, manufacturers are combining hydraulics with electromagnetic power systems to make smart hydraulic actuators. These actuators can be precisely controlled by being programmed to operate with fluctuating power based on needs.
IoT makes hydraulics safer, smoother, and more efficient
The end result of combining IoT with hydraulics is a smoother, safer operation and plenty of conserved energy. Where energy is conserved, efficiency is increased.
An increase in efficiency leads to better productivity and more profits. With a smooth operation, there’s less friction from vibration, which means the equipment won’t wear down so quickly and less maintenance is needed over time.
Since not all jobs require the same power output, being able to adjust how a piece of hydraulic equipment works can ensure that more work gets done faster with fewer wasted materials and time.
Smart hydraulics also increase worker productivity. For example, one company implemented a system to reduce boom oscillations by 75%, which increased both safety and productivity. Since productivity is directly tied to profits, the ultimate benefit to IoT in hydraulics is increased profits.
IoT makes equipment remotely controllable
Smart hydraulic-powered equipment can be controlled and monitored from the cloud. This eliminates the need for IT crews to be physically present with the equipment. Monitoring tasks can be outsourced to anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This is much safer than it was for previous operators who had to be located within ten or so feet of equipment to control it electronically.
Once equipment is equipped with smart technology, it can also be controlled by AI-powered software and machine learning algorithms rather than humans. AI-trained machines are capable of far more precision and accuracy than humans.
IoT technology collects data on hydraulics
Data collection is critical for knowing how equipment is performing and identifying inefficiencies or areas that can use improvement. Using IoT-powered fluid controls provides companies with a constant stream of data along with remote access. This data can be fed into another system in order to be leveraged by the company’s big data specialist.
IoT can predict equipment failure
One of the ways IoT supports hydraulics is by predicting equipment failure before humans know something is wrong. With advanced notice, parts can be replaced before a big issue occurs. This is achieved by fitting equipment with sensors that detect anomalies and deviations from the standard operation.
Sensors can collect all kinds of data, including fluid pressure, flow levels, temperature, pressure, and more. Collecting all of this data is especially useful for equipment when failures can lead to additional damage because of the machine’s weight or when unforeseen failures can put lives at risk.
However, data isn’t useful unless it’s actually reviewed. Smart sensors can be programmed to automatically send data to a remote server where numbers are crunched and reports are generated by an analytics program without manual input.
From there, operators can review the reports and make decisions based on the information.
The future of hydraulics is IoT
Hydraulic systems have always been superior to electromagnetic, manual, and pneumatic systems in terms of power. Once engineers solved the initial issue with leaks, hydraulic technology became more widely adopted. Now, IoT is stepping in to resolve some of the remaining inefficiencies, increase safety, and prevent equipment failure.
If anything is going to push hydraulics to the next level in the future, it will be IoT technology. The use of IoT in hydraulics will only continue to increase, and before long, more companies will be taking advantage of smart hydraulic systems.