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“We see value in moving beyond interfacing with the controllers in the programs for the motion system and connecting more of the components,” Parker’s Quanstrom said. Parker K220LS mobile valve pictured. (Parker Hannifin)

Increasing connectivity, leveraging intelligence

Parker Hannifin expert discusses IoT for mobile equipment and moving beyond standard telematics by integrating systems controllers and smart components.

Like so many other companies, Parker Hannifin’s plans to share its latest solutions at ConExpo/Con-Agg and IFPE in March were dashed due to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 did not stop Truck & Off-Highway Engineering from talking with Parker’s Clint Quanstrom, IoT General Manager, Motion Systems Group, via Microsoft Teams about technologies the company would have presented, future goals and industry trends.

While demonstrating technologies is Quanstrom’s preferred method of sharing the company’s solutions, “Plan B” provided the opportunity to discuss one-on-one Parker’s work relative to the Internet of Things (IoT) for motion systems. Booth visitors at ConExpo would have seen representative data that Parker can pull from machines. “We can provide tools like dashboards that offer customers an idea of how their systems are performing. This is stuff we can do today: indicators on the health of your system,” he said. However, the company has plans to surpass standard telematics solutions that provide location and diagnostic messaging from the engine and transmission. 

“We see value in moving beyond interfacing with the controllers in the programs for the motion system and connecting more of the components. Because yes, we have controllers on the machines, but we also have pumps, valves, filters, accumulators, and cylinders. We see value, long term, in connecting all of it and leveraging intelligence that can be gathered there as well,” he said. “This is the trend. If you were to look at IoT at a higher level and you look at the platform providers out there, a lot of them are, for lack of a better term, ‘trying’ to certify components as being standard for their platform, trying to create some plug-and-play capabilities.”

While this is being done with gateways today, Quanstrom noted that platform providers are also moving on to other sensors and components with the goal of IoT implementation. With it, more information can be extracted from the system, which means more value.

Parker already connects thousands of machines across many different markets, providing them with location, if it’s mobile, and engine diagnostics. They are also connecting those motion systems and looking at pressures and temperatures, flows and displacements, speeds and viscosity, etc. The company is starting to pull that type of information on pumps and filters, looking at differential pressure across the filter, performance, and health of the fluid. 

“The key message is moving beyond telematics by integrating systems controllers,” Quanstrom said. “We’re starting now with the other components of the motion system. We’re capturing many different measures of motion systems and parameters; we’re providing services today around alerting and visualization, and we’re headed towards predictive.”

Electrification is everywhere
Electrification continues to be a major trend in the industry. Parker Hannifin is now connecting more and more electric machines, Quanstrom said. Originally mostly in mining, Parker’s technology is moving across many markets that are embracing electrification, like boom trucks that have electric PTO to larger construction equipment. “In the same fashion we’re pulling data off hydraulics and pneumatics (in more of an industrial environment), we’re also doing the same thing on the electrified equipment on the machines,” he said.

Customers are looking at everything from the battery state-of-charge, battery cooling, battery temperatures at charge, at use, ambient, energy use, efficiency calculations, range calculations, and more. “It’s pretty big if you can run a battery as opposed to running your diesel engine: there’s savings on engine wear and tear, there’s fuel savings, and emissions savings that can help you file for credits, etcetera,” Quanstrom said. “Customers on the electric side seem to be forward-thinking on connecting.” 

In some cases, companies deploying the first generation of a product want to capture different variables on the battery and motor and track it because they’re trying to right-size the battery or maximize battery life. Quanstrom noted that customers look at things like how the machine is utilized because they designed a battery for a certain duty cycle. They want to be able to look at how it performs as the battery ages over time.

Connectivity is a growing trend, owing to the fact that these machines are new and companies want to know that they are performing optimally. “When I talk to customers they are starting to ask, ‘well, what do you have? What can I do on this pump or with that valve?’ Those questions are starting to flow and we’re connecting more of it,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s a trend that escalates. I want to get as connected as I can and do as much analysis as I can so I can drive this stuff toward predictive down the road. You have to pull a lot of data and do a lot of analysis if you want to get to that type of capability.”

Growing trends
Quanstrom said customers—specifically the OEM who is producing the machine—are starting to gain interest in acquiring raw data so they can analyze it for themselves. “They want to start getting some intelligence into their design processes,” he said. “We don’t have as many machines connected as some of the other companies who’ve been doing this for 15 years. Even among our small sample size we are starting to see customers ask for this [API and shared data], which is quite interesting.” 

While he said it’s not necessarily market-wide now, it does come up with almost everyone Parker talks to. “There is definitely increasing need to get access to the data for their own purposes and in sharing within their own ecosystem, which tells you that this stuff is finally starting to take hold,” he explained. “It’s not just a tool for your service team to have access to machine information when it comes into the service shop, which has primarily been the use of this type of technology up to this point.” 

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