The ever-tightening government-enforced regulations for more energy efficient and less polluting machines and the simultaneous fast development of electric drives have caused hydraulic systems to lose ground to electric drives. One promising solution to improve the status of hydraulics in this competition are the Direct Driven Hydraulic (DDH) systems, aka electro-hydraulic actuators (EHAs), which are characterized by a closed circuit type and a servo motor driven speed-controlled pump controlling the actuator. Due to this topology, they offer a possibility of reaching higher energy efficiencies compared to traditional open circuit type valve-controlled systems and simultaneously they offer the high accuracy and dynamics of these.

Typical applications where DDHs have been used are, in the area of mobile equipment, modern commercial and military aircrafts and some lift trucks, and in the area of stationary applications, mostly presses. In all of these, the actuators produce relatively slow motions.

In this experimental study, a DDH system is applied to a stationary industrial vertical position control application where a very rapid movement of a heavy load is required. This brings out some unwanted fluctuation phenomena not encountered with slower motion velocities. Here we are striving for avoiding these phenomena by adding damping to the system. In addition, it is studied whether the good energy efficiency of DDH systems could be enhanced with load-compensation.

The presented measurement results include the system behavior regarding the smoothness of positioning, the fluctuations of pressures, forces, and power, and finally the energy consumption with three different system configurations: basic DDH, load-compensated DDH, and load-compensated and damped DDH. The measured energy consumptions are compared against results gained in simulating a conventional valve-controlled system driving the same application.

The measurement results manifest that energy consumption wise significant benefits are achievable with DDH, especially in combination with hydraulic load compensation. However, without added damping the motion involved marked vibrations in the end of the upward and downward strokes. Added damping eliminated these vibrations, but at the cost of reduced energy efficiency. Due to this, the solution for the fluctuation and vibration problem should be sought by developing a control strategy that produces a smoother but as fast motion.

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