Volvo Technology Award for More-Efficient Excavator Hydraulics

Four Korean engineers received the 2011 Volvo Technology Award from Volvo Group CEO Leif Johansson on April 6 for refining the hydraulic system used in Volvo Construction Equipment's excavators. Their work improved system efficiency and is reported to be yielding fuel savings of up to 15%.

The Volvo Technology Award recognises what is often termed "frugal engineering." Applying intelligent solutions, the award-winning team of engineers at the Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) production plant in Changwon, Korea, made refinements to the excavator hydraulics that yielded an improvement of 11 to 15% in fuel efficiency, depending on the application. Volvo claims its excavators are now so efficient that they use about 10% less fuel than the best comparable machines. The team adapted the unique electronic system used to control the machine's on-board hydraulic pump to make their improvements.

Compared with new fuel-saving technologies, such as hybrid solutions, the award-winning design has much less impact on product cost.

The Korean team developed one algorithm for improving the flow in the hydraulic circuits and limiting it during the excavator's acceleration phase, and another for reducing the flow at high loads. The hydraulic system was also optimised to limit fluid friction in the hydraulic lines to the absolute minimum. A third algorithm was developed for calculating the fluid flow requirement under different working conditions.

To date, the design has been awarded one patent, and five more patent applications have been filed in Korea, the U.S. and the European Union.

"As an engineer by profession, I always find it satisfying to see how skilled 'everyday' engineering can yield such fantastic results," commented Volvo Group CEO Leif Johansson at the award ceremony. "In this case, intelligent ideas were used to refine the conventional hydraulic system and achieve a fuel saving of almost 15%. Not only does this benefit the customer's pocket; it also helps to reduce environmental impact."

The four award-winners are: Heagyoon Joung and Sanghee Lee, both of Volvo CE Technology Platform, Hydraulic Systems; and Dongsoo Kim and Hungju Shin, both of Volvo CE Technology Platform, Electric & Electronic Systems.

Instituted in 1988, the Volvo Technology Award is being presented this year for the 24th time. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding technological achievements by Volvo Group personnel.

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