Energy-efficient motion control of hydraulic actuators is a challenging task. Throttle-free solutions have the potential for high efficiency. The main throttle-free approaches are pump-controlled systems, transformer-based solutions, and digital hydraulic solutions, such as switching transformers, multi-chamber cylinder and multi-pressure systems. This paper presents a novel solution based on a so-called digital hydraulic power management system (DHPMS). The DHPMS is freely rotating and a hydraulic accumulator is used for energy storage. In contrast to existing approaches, each actuator has its own DHPMS and a small accumulator to locally handle the power peaks. Only an average amount of power is needed from the hydraulic grid, radically reducing the size of the supply pump and the hydraulic piping and hosing. Pump flow is only 12.5% of the peak flow of the actuator in the case studied. Control of this type of system is challenging, and the model-based approach is used. The controller uses a simplified model and functionality is verified by using a detailed simulation model of the system. The results show that the approach is feasible but is demanding on the control valves. The system delay is also relatively long, which reduces the control performance in high-end systems. Nevertheless, this approach has potential in mobile machines, for example.

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