Maintaining a normal oil temperature in all hydraulic systems is important for successful system operation. Normal operating temperatures for hydraulic systems is 110 to 130° F (unless specified by the equipment manufacturer). At high temperatures, oxidation of the oil is accelerated. This oxidation shortens the fluid’s useful life by producing acids and sludge, which corrode metal parts. These acids and sludge clog valve orifices and cause rapid deterioration of moving components. The chemical properties of many hydraulic fluids can change dramatically by repeated heating/cooling cycles to extreme temperatures. This change or breakdown of the hydraulic media can be extremely detrimental to hydraulic components, especially pumping equipment.Coolers extend the service life
Overheated hydraulics can be caused by decomposing fluid, wear, or damaged seals and bearings. Coolers can prevent overheating and extend the service life of your hydraulic system. However, smaller hydraulic systems with lower operating temperatures can often be cooled through natural convection. If natural convection is not enough, it becomes necessary to add a cooler.
Coolers are also crucial for systems with temperature requirements such as needing to stabilize the hydraulic fluid’s viscosity by keeping it at a specific temperature, or equipment with a history of hot oil problems that shortened seal life and break down the fluid. Hot fluid is always a concern with large mobile equipment, as well as commercial and industrial processing equipment. Specifying a properly sized cooler saves time, money and maintenance.
Selecting the best cooler
The process to select a cooler is driven by the type of system that needs to be cooled. Parameters to consider include heat load, power source, noise, operating costs, space available, environmental conditions, and more.
Actual heat generation varies throughout the machine’s cycles, as well as changing environmental factors and ambient temperatures. This can make it challenging to accurately define your cooling needs. When considering the application and sizing of coolers, the hydraulic fluid’s ideal operating temperature and the time it takes to arrive at that temperature must be used.
For new designs and retrofits, the first step in selecting the right cooler is identifying the challenges and performing the necessary calculations. Virtual design and sizing tools are available from most manufacturers to help determine the best fit for your application. Some companies provide online sizing calculators and other interactive resources that let engineers plug in specifications to get an idea of what is needed. Parker offers a comprehensive suite of online cooler sizing software. For instance, Parker offers an online cooler selector tool for each of the different types of coolers including brazed plate, shell and tube and air-oil coolers.Air-oil coolers
To select the best air-oil coolers, you’ll need as much information about the application as possible, including, but not limited to the following:
If the required heat dissipation is not known, it can be estimated assuming 20-30 percent of the installed horsepower will be converted into heat load. The most accurate way to calculate the heat load is to record the time it takes the oil to get up to temperature without a cooler in the system.Water-oil coolers
For water-oil coolers, which include Parker’s ST and OAW series coolers, you also need to know the inlet temperature and flow rate of the cooling water. Most manufacturers’ literature includes examples, steps and simplified equations to properly size coolers. For instance, Parker provides engineering specifications for their ST series water-oil coolers, such as cooling capacity, flow rate, working pressure, sizing, and connection thread in their online tools to enhance the specifying process. Once the heat-load parameters and other key influencing factors are defined, the next step is choosing an air-oil (air-cooled) or water-oil (water-cooled) cooler.
How air-oil coolers work
Air-oil coolers remove heat from the oil in a cooler by using the ambient air around the cooler. Air-oil coolers convect heat, which makes them ideal when no water source is available or when the preference is to remove heat from the oil by using ambient air. In air-oil coolers, hot oil passes through channels that contain turbulators to prevent laminar flow from developing in an effort to promote heat transfer from the fluid to the channel wall. The channel wall is always constructed of metals with high thermal conductivities.
The cores of air-oil coolers are constructed in two different styles: tube-and-fin or bar-and-plate construction. Tube-and-fin construction consists of round or oval tubes mechanically connected to an array of external fins. The tube-and-fin design is lightweight and offers low pressure drop across the core. The tubes in a tube-and-fin design can be susceptible to damage from pressure spikes and external debris that can be encountered in any application. Bar-and-plate construction uses compact and efficient cores that offer more cooling per cubic-inch than a tube-and-fin design. They consist of finned chambers separated by flat plates which route fluids through alternating hot and cold passages. The bar-and-plate design creates a honeycomb structure that resists vibrations and shocks. This core is usually made of aluminum and is furnace brazed in a controlled atmosphere or high vacuum. With all the bar-and-plate design characteristics that provide certain benefits over the tube-and-fin design, it can be seen that bar-and-plate coolers can offer design engineers greater system design flexibility.
Both types of air-oil coolers typically have a fan driven by a hydraulic or electric motor. Off-road or mobile equipment used in construction, forestry, or material handling typically use either a hydraulic-driven or DC electric-driven fan motors. Industrial equipment such as Hydraulic Power Units (HPU) use AC electric-driven motors to drive the fans. Cooler manufacturers offer a lot of motor configurations, voltages, and displacements to fit various applications. For instance, Parker offers a variety of air-oil coolers with AC, DC, hydraulic fluid, and engine driven fans.
Cooler manufacturers offer a lot of motor configurations, voltages and displacements to fit various applications. For instance, Parker offers a variety of air-oil coolers with AC, DC, hydraulic fluid and engine driven fans. Parker’s two most popular air-oil coolers are the ULDC Series (DC fan motor) and the ULAC Series (AC fan motor).
How water-oil coolers work – shell and tube design
Water-oil coolers remove heat from oil by using a second fluid (typically water). For more than 50 years, shell-and-tube oil coolers have been an industry mainstay when considering water-oil coolers. However, newer designs have been developed that increase efficiency while providing an equivalent heat-transfer surface in a smaller package at a reduced cost.
Shell-and-tube (bare tube) coolers have an outer flanged shell with end bonnets appropriately sealed to each shell end. Inside, a precise pattern of tubing runs the length of the shell and terminates in the endplates. Tube ends are fastened to the endplates, which seal each end of the shell. Cool water flows through the tubes while hot oil flows around the tubes within the shell. The tubes run through several baffle plates that provide structural rigidity and create a maze through which the hot fluid must traverse. This maze created by the baffles lengthens the path the hot oil must flow through. This elongated path increases the amount of heat transfer from the hot fluid to the water by forcing the hot fluid to travel around the tubes for a longer period of time.
As mentioned above, there are shell-and-tube designs in the market now that mechanically add fins to the external surface area of the internal tubes, which increases heat transfer and efficiency. Parker does offer this type of high-efficiency “hybrid” design in the ST Cooler Series. The way the hybrid design works is that the fins add surface area and improve heat transfer, letting the overall size be smaller than standard shell-and-tube exchangers without fins on the tubes (bare-tube). However, due to the increased time the hot fluid has to traverse the interior of the cooler, the pressure drop can be higher than shell-and-tube coolers without the increased flow path created by the baffles.
How water-oil coolers work – brazed plate design
Another type of water-oil cooler is the brazed-plate style. In this cooler design, heat-transfer surfaces are a series of stainless-steel plates, each stamped with a corrugated pattern for strength, efficiency, and resistance to fouling by creating turbulence in the flow of both fluids. The number and design of the plates varies depending on the desired heat-transfer capacity.
Plates are stacked with thin sheets of copper or nickel between each plate. The plate pack, endplates, and connections are then brazed in a vacuum furnace to join the plates at the edges and all contact points. This design can be used with several different types of inlet and outlet connections.
Brazed-plate coolers are compact, rugged and provide high-heat transfer capacities. They hold approximately one-eighth of the liquid volume of a thermally comparable shell-and-tube cooler. Their stainless-steel construction permits flow velocities up to 20 feet per second. Higher velocities, combined with turbulent flow, provide heat transfer at three to five times the rate of shell-and-tube coolers. A good example of the increased horsepower is Parker’s OAW Series that offers up to 275 horsepower of cooling at an entering temperature difference of 60°F, based on a 2:1 water flow. The higher heat transfer rate requires less heat-transferring surface area for a given capacity.
Due to their compact construction, brazed-plate coolers are ideal when space and size are design requirements. One drawback of using a brazed plate cooler is that there can be higher pressure drops when compared to an equivalent shell-and-tube design. In addition, tests prove brazed-plate designs handle particles up to 1-mm in diameter without issue. Filters or strainers should be used if larger particles will be encountered. Due to their construction, brazed-plate coolers require chemical, rather than mechanical, cleaning.
ROI of coolers
When properly specifying the right cooler into a hydraulic system, a system will maintain the correct working temperature, which yields numerous economic and environmental benefits, including:
Given the many variables involved when specifying coolers, it is always best to directly contact a cooler supplier such as Parker, with any questions you have. Manufacturers will have additional resources that you can use in the selection process, including specialized sizing software and testing equipment like wind tunnels and cooler design simulation software. Lastly, it is important to take advantage of and rely on your manufacturer’s expertise and available resources to ensure you successfully size and implement the best cooler for your application. To view Parker’s wide range of coolers, visit www.parker.com/ACD.
This article was contributed by Francis C. Gradisher Jr., product marketing manager - KleenVent & Coolers, Parker Hannifin's Accumulator and Cooler Division.
How to Specify the Proper Sized Heat Exchanger for Your Hydraulic System
2 Jul 2020
Prevention is better than a cure. In coal mining, these words offer particularly good guidance. Underground mining presents numerous hazards ranging from structural collapses, flooding and explosions. The tremendous amount of dust generated by activities in a coal mine creates breathing-related problems for workers as well as maintenance issues for machinery. Dust can also create a potentially explosive environment. Injuries and deaths occur every year either from accidents or health issues caused by exposure to coal dust. Mining companies can dramatically reduce these risks by applying rigorous dust suppression safety measures.
This blog investigates dust suppression methods and evaluates preventative versus corrective techniques that can effectively be used to suppress dust in underground coal mines, reducing the risk to workers and equipment.
Coal dust is a known carcinogen that causes miners’ lung disease (pneumoconiosis). Dust in the atmosphere can also create an ignition hazard when mixed with gas. Coal dust buildup is often a root cause of premature maintenance and failure of mining equipment. To this end, preventative suppression is critical.
There are a variety of ways to suppress dust in coal mines that offer a varying degree of effectiveness and efficiency. The most common methods are:
Bag filter system uses fans to circulate the air and trap the solids in a bag. However, this type of system is maintenance-intensive and requires bag filter change-outs — which is not conducive to work in an underground mine.
Dry fog system requires electricity, making it impractical for work below ground level.
Water is an ideal solution because it takes advantage of the mine's existing water supply, forming it into a spray to suppress the dust as soon as it is generated at the coal extraction point and all other areas where dust is generated.
Preventative vs. corrective dust suppression using water Preventative dust suppression
Logically, if a problem can be prevented from happening, then the time and cost of fixing it can be saved. Preventing dust from becoming airborne is critical in dust suppression. Three important elements to successful preventative suppression using water include:
Control pertains to how the water is controlled. It may be controlled by the presence of coal on the conveyor or by the belt’s motion. In either case, the water is isolated before entering the system.
Filter technology is used to remove contaminants from the water to assure reliable system operation.
Spray refers to a predetermined volume and pattern in which the water is delivered to the coal before the dust is generated.
The figure below shows a typical belt conveyor transfer point dust suppression system has two options: paddle valve (A) or belt-driven valve (B). Both are designed to operate only when there is coal on the conveyor.
Corrective or symptomatic dust control is implemented after the dust is created and is more challenging than preventative dust control. Dust particles come in a range of sizes with some as small as 10 µm which is invisible to the human eye. These small particles are the most dangerous to workers and equipment because they can remain airborne for long periods of time and eventually find their way into miners’ lungs, onto and into machinery as well as outside of the mine itself. Small particles are also the most difficult to remove from the atmosphere. Airborne coal dust can be addressed correctively using sprays. The principal is that the dust agglomerates with the water, causing it to fall under gravity. However, if the water droplets are too large, then the airborne dust particles are just moved around, resulting in very little dust being removed. To effectively remove the dust, the water droplets and dust particles must be the same size. Hence, the design of the spray head is of great importance. With preventative suppression, the size of the particle is less important.
Dust suppression in Columbia | case study
Parker Conflow, a leader in the industry, works continuously with mining companies and equipment manufacturers to enhance products for preventative dust suppression. In one case, at CI Milpa in Colombia, a manufacturer of metallurgical coal, Parker Conflow engineers designed two dust suppression systems for a mine as well as a fire suppression system on a roadway.
“We are focused on continually improving the efficiency and safety of our production sites and the Parker Conflow systems are an important part of this. We chose to work with Parker Conflow, because of the company’s expertise in the manufacture and installation of dust and fire suppression systems and are very pleased with the result.”
— David Fernando Jaimes Mojica, CI Milpa
Preventive coal dust suppression is vital to ensuring the health and safety of workers and protecting mining equipment from costly downtime and failure. For over 60 years, Parker Conflow has been providing dust suppression, fire suppression and water control equipment and services that help protect workers in the coal mining industry worldwide.
After more than a century of experience serving our customers, Parker is often called to the table for the collaborations that help to solve the most complex engineering challenges. We help them bring their ideas to light. We are a trusted partner, working alongside our customers to enable technology breakthroughs that change the world for the better.
This blog was contributed by Gary Wain, product manager, Parker Conflow.
2 Jul 2020
Will additive manufacturing (3D printing) replace all traditional, long-established manufacturing methods? Not any time in the foreseeable future. It may take a small bite out of some methods, but the real play is in enhancing the capabilities and possibilities for the processes that we use every day.
Additive manufacturing enables many avenues, but many people only know or tend to focus on a few. With seven technical families (ASTM F42) and many “sub” families or technologies within, there are lots of different ways to grow parts. We are using many of these different methods to help our operations in all three of the business realms: Prototype, Indirect Manufacturing, End-Use Production. Consider the following possibilities to find your business’s winning combination of traditional and additive manufacturing.
Of course, there are the well-known avenues such as display parts, checks for form, fit and function, and sales/marketing demos, but there is so much more to keep in mind with prototyping. Consider clear parts for fluid flow or level studies, even on dynos. How about running a weaker plastic version of your new design through your manufacturing systems to look for interferences or accessibility? For complex, multi-part assembly operations, create a printed “buck” for Design for Assembly (DFA) activities to find the issues requiring redesign. Does anyone ever have actual parts to design dunnage or lift assist tooling at the necessary time? And of course, if waiting for components to run validation tests, bridge parts can be printed and used until production parts are available. Printing prototypes can quickly provide the opportunity for many design iterations and the Design of Experiments (DoE), enabling better optimization and higher quality products.
Indirect manufacturing realm
This realm is all about manufacturing optimization and flexibility, but custom tooling, fixtures, and gauges are just the start. Internally ported tools or robotic end effectors that eliminate external piping or wiring are just as valuable. Conformally cooled injection molding tools create higher quality at faster cycle times. How about conformal machining or shipping fixtures for those hard to hold parts? An additive can even print compound curved paint stencils.
For castings, why spend money on tooling until it becomes a cost-effective solution and the design is fixed? Use sand castings--print the molds and cores out of the sand. As the volumes increase, tool the big, simple parts and use “hybrid” mold sets. Even in high rate production, very complex internal cores can still be printed at an advantage. Investment castings offer similar opportunities. The sacrificial patterns can be printed out of many different materials and burned/melted out during the process. The flexibility of printing molds or patterns also enables optimization through the Design of Experiments (DoE).
This is where most companies want to focus but is the most difficult realm especially if you need to certify with the FAA, FDA, or other authorities. There are great opportunities to optimize saleable items using additive manufacturing technologies. Combining parts eliminates machining, inventory, part numbers, and their supply chain, as well as joints which may leak or fatigue — not to mention fasteners. Printing frees up design constraints to use curved and non-round passages, embedded features, “designer” or even blended materials and unique geometry. The products can take advantage of new design technologies like topology optimization in which the computer provides optimal variations for stress, heat transfer, stiffness, flow path, and other important characteristics at minimal weight. Getting to production with additive manufacturing can give your products a distinct advantage.
Additive manufacturing- a single tool in your toolbox
Additive manufacturing is only one tool in your toolbox but is advantageous for many things. Speed, turn-around, and flexibility make it the choice for things like one-off obsolete parts or broken machine details. But remember: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. There are many factors and traditional manufacturing still has significant advantages in many areas. Remember to consider all the many Additive Manufacturing technologies. Choosing the correct method for the application is extremely important to obtain the desired results.
Will Additive Manufacturing replace traditional like a one-size-fits-all application? Not any time in the foreseeable future. But it does add capabilities and offers many more options to traditional manufacturing. Investigate and choose the right combinations of traditional and additive manufacturing, and watch great things happen to your organization’s quality, delivery, and cost!
As the global leader in motion and control technologies, we play a pivotal role in applications that change our world. Our broad and diverse range of hydraulics, pneumatics, electromechanical, filtration, process control, climate control, fluid and gas handling, and engineered materials technologies support advancements in a wide range of aerospace, industrial and mobile equipment applications. As we look to the future, changes in how people live, developments in technology, and dynamic markets depend on a partner that advances modern progress. Parker is that partner. Download our Leading with Purpose book to learn more.
Article contributed by Paul Susalla, corporate manufacturing technology advancement director, Parker Hannifin. Originally published in Manufacturing Technology Insights Digital Magazine.
Related, helpful content for you:
1 Jul 2020
Developing and introducing a new clinical diagnostic instrument or medical device is a challenging accomplishment that often takes years. One of the final steps in bringing life-saving, life-improving equipment to the public is US FDA listing and CE marking processes that ensure the safety of these devices as well as their compliance to well-established global standards. Trouble at this stage of the project can lead to frustrating and costly delays for medical device manufacturers. Examples of complications that may be found at this stage are electrical emissions or immunity issues that might only become apparent when all the pieces come together for final testing.
This blog explores standards required for the safety and performance of medical electrical equipment and discusses the benefits of choosing components, such as pumps, that are IEC-60601 compliant.
International Electrotechnical Commission
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an organization that publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic, and other related technologies. In 1977, IEC published the IEC 60601 and it is continually updated as technology develops and improvements are made. Today, IEC 60601 is the international standard for the safety and performance of medical electrical equipment in most major countries. This standard is very important in that it provides compliance with US-FDA, Canada-Health Canada, and EEU Medical Device Directive 2007/47/EC regulations. IEC 60601 is currently in its 3rd revision (60601-1-11:2015) and certification can be obtained through an OSHA-approved testing laboratory.
Across the globe, medical regulating bodies, such as the FDA, EEU, and Canada-Health Canada, are responsible for ensuring the efficacy of the devices being designed and manufactured by OEMs. These regulating bodies have widely accepted the IEC-60601 standard as a benchmark for the basic safety and essential performance of medical electrical equipment for commercialization.
The 60601-1-11:2015 acts as risk management for the product design, manufacture, and intended use by requiring safety by design with protective measures in the medical device and calling for instructions or safety labeling. This standard provides customers with the assurance that the product is safe and reliable.
Products that fall under IEC-60601
There are two types of products that fall under IEC-60601: Medical electrical equipment and medical electrical systems. Medical electrical equipment is defined as:
“Equipment, provided with not more than one connection to a particular supply main and intended to diagnose, treat, or monitor the patient under medical supervision and which makes physical or electrical contact with the patient and/or transfers energy to or from the patient and/or detects such energy transfer to or from the patient”.
— IEC 60601-1 subclause 2.2.15
A medical electrical system is defined as:
“Combination, as specified by its manufacturer, of items of equipment, at least one of which is Medical Equipment to be inter-connected by functional connection by use of a Multiple Socket-Outlet”.
— Nicholas Abbondante, chief engineer, EMC Testing for medical devices, Intertek Group, plc.
Why choose components that meet compliance standards?
When selecting a component for your device, it is important to research the required standards. The IEC-60601-1-2 is the standard mandating that EMC testing is performed on any electronic medical device, which ensures that a device meets necessary emissions and immunity standards by the FDA to sell the device.
For medical device manufacturers, partnering with a supplier that offers compliant components, improves efficiency and reduces costs. Requesting a component manufacturer to obtain the specific compliance standards can result in expensive delays in the project scheduling process.
Miniature pumps, for example, are critical electromechanical components frequently used in medical devices. Pumps needed in today’s medical equipment range from simple on/off devices that are used for a very short time frame to dynamic control devices that need to last several years of continuous operation.
The new BTX-Connect diaphragm pump from Parker Precision Fluidics has been tested to IEC-60601-1-2 standards to provide a seamless approval process for the completed device.
Specifically, the BTX-Connect miniature diaphragm pump was tested and passed the following standards and tests:
The BTX pump uses brushless DC motor technology for maximum reliability and control. The controller offers the most dynamic control range and communication capability available. This electrical component of the pump is subject to electromagnetic emissions and immunity, the very same as the medical equipment system of which it becomes a part. Other features include:
1 Jul 2020
Highways, city streets and parking lots lay bare. Rush hour and stop-and-go have come to a virtual gridlock. For tens of millions of people across the U.S., arriving to work on time is a whole lot easier and less stressful, except for those days when a detour is necessary to get around the unexpected pileup of kid’s toys blocking the exit to your home office.
Daily life has changed: how we interact with family and friends, how we learn, how we shop and how we work are different. They involve putting some space between others and us. Businesses around the world have transitioned from large, robust facilities to the friendly confines of the home office. While temporary at first, companies in sectors such as technology and e-commerce may allow working remote to become permanent.
Data centers put to the test
Roadways and byways may be desolate, but the traffic is moving fast across data centers. These coliseums of information and data are being inundated with massive surges in internet usage, with increase estimates ranging between 50 and 70 percent, as everyday life transitions to home life. The geographic shift of internet demand from city centers to neighborhoods is validated by major cities across the globe, from San Francisco to Sydney, revealing the change in internet traffic between January and March 2020.
Data has never been more important than right now. It’s the lifeblood of today’s first responders and medical professionals, businesses, education, entertainment and nearly every industry on the face of this planet. Everyone, and we do mean everyone, is relying on the internet and communication networks to continue business as normal under the most unique circumstances. The COVID-19 global pandemic has highlighted the importance of data centers and the ability to take on this sudden rush of information.
Decades of planning and preparation
So, how have data centers been able to handle such a spike in internet traffic? You have to go back nearly 60 years to find the answer. In the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, the only network people knew about was the telephone system. It was powerful, but in the same breath, expensive, fragile and uncompromising. Researchers began working on a new network – one that would be flexible and handle different types of communication, including data, voice and video. The data center was born.
Over time, as networks grew, so too did data centers to accommodate new demands. ARPANET, office and home computers and the internet came in increments and at each digital revolution, the network became more reliable to manage the increase in data capacity. And so 2020 happened, data centers across the world weren’t shook, but prepared for this moment.
Data centers staying cool under pressure
Capacity management is critical to all fundamentals of any organization. Data centers are performing efficiently and more effectively with no constraints. This level of operation comes on the heels of supply chain disruptions, reduced staffing and social distancing guidelines.
The infrastructure of data centers has played a vital role in keeping cool under intense pressure. Traditional air-based cooling systems have been replaced with innovative liquid cooling capabilities to reduce energy consumption and meet power demands. Plus, address limitations of water usage that can greatly affect the ability to utilize evaporate cooling and cooling towers in order to carry off heat generated through a facility.
The future of data centers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Fluid connections are critical in network communications and liquid cooling systems; both go hand-in-hand and will play vital roles over the course of this pandemic. In terms of infrastructure, liquid cooling quick disconnects feature a state-of-the-art internal design and flush-face valves, which reduces pressure drop and virtually eliminates drips during connection and disconnection. This capability means investments in reliable connections pay big dividends in the short and long-term future.
The pandemic has shown us that connectivity is a must. As more aspects of our daily lives transition to home, from work and school to shopping and entertainment, data centers will continue to adjust to this increase demand for connectivity and capacity.
This article contributed by Todd Lambert, market sales manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation's Quick Coupling Division.
30 Jun 2020
One of the most exciting advancements in the tech world happening today is not a new technology at all. Rather, it is the unique application of something that has dominated and excited the gaming industry since the mid-90s—virtual reality (VR). VR augments computer modeling by allowing engineers and designers to interact more intuitively with their designs.
The ability to delve into a new dimension has allowed technical designers to go from using a 2D computer screen to utilizing an immersive, 1:1 scale environment where designs can be experienced in their full capacity. In the analysis-design-build cycle, VR grants access to in-depth insights that detect design problems of a product before the first prototype is built for testing.
Another unexpected benefit of VR is that engineering teams can meet within the same virtual environment to evaluate a design when team members are continents apart. This saves time and money while taking team collaboration to the next level.
VR is an emerging technology that is improving at a rapid pace. With its use, comes the reduction of product design and analysis time. Integrating VR technology into factories and design flow allows manufacturers around the world to simplify processes, reduce costs, and improve safety.
How Different Companies are Using VR to Change the Way They Operate
Industrial manufacturing firm, Parker Hannifin, has been at the forefront of using VR to create proprietary manufacturing processes. More specifically, their Parker Filtration Innovation Center outside of Nashville is using VR paired with automation and robotics to dramatically innovate manufacturing processes in filtration.
The Innovation Center houses the research and development for all Parker Hannifin Filtration products. Parker has dedicated 82,000 square feet of space solely to the development of new filtration technologies and proprietary manufacturing processes — this is the largest in the nation. A dedicated team of engineers, PhD scientists, U.S. military veterans, and industry experts have helped Parker secure over 500 U.S. patents and 1,200 global patents in the filtration focus.
The simulation group at the Innovation Center has taken advantage of VR to visualize computational fluid dynamics and finite element simulation results. Using VR to visualize the complex flows of filter elements has granted simulation engineers the freedom to explore the intricacies of air streamlines that curve and swirl within filter housings, providing an enhanced understanding of flow paths and reducing simulation analysis time.
"Parker’s Filtration Group has both the application expertise of filtration and the same skills and tools used in the aerospace industry to leverage advanced design modeling of our filtration systems. These tools help us design more efficient systems and accelerate time to market for new products by reducing time-consuming empirical testing because we’ve used computer models to get closer to final design before we even build the first prototype."
— Sucharitha Rajendran, Ph.D., modeling and simulation engineer, Parker Filtration Innovation Center
Another industry leader using VR is the Ford Motor Company. VR allows the company to optimize a vehicle’s design before a physical prototype is built. The Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment system creates virtual street environments in which automobile prototypes can be evaluated on aesthetics, ergonomics, and safety.
Using virtual technologies delivers significant savings and improvements in the areas of cost, time, and quality. It’s only a matter of time before industrial manufacturers see the considerable competitive advantages the technology can bring when leveraged strategically within operations. To fully leverage the technology, there needs to be a deep understanding of how to link the different components of the operation. The ability to use virtual technologies to create the link can help a company stand out against competitors.
Enhancing Automation and Robotics with VR
Automation has been commonly used in manufacturing since the 1970s. As robotics started to gain popularity, it was used to enhance the automation process. A successful automation strategy requires excellent decision-making on many levels. The strategy to link automation and robotics must align with business and operational goals. Now that VR is becoming a more affordable technology, the strategy should be to focus on integrating it into the automation process.
Engineers at Parker Hannifin have developed systems that take advantage of VR early in the life cycle of product development. For example, VR can be used to explore the layouts of new pieces of filtration equipment in plants to optimize space, ergonomics, and operator safety. Since these layouts are virtual, the engineers have the freedom to explore multiple layout options that would have previously been too costly and time-consuming to implement and test.
Engineers are also able to leverage VR to determine manufacturing line workflows to optimize robotic arm movements, placement of assembly parts, and safe locations for operators. Virtual robotic equipment can be implemented into manufacturing lines with ease within the virtual environment to optimize robotic arm motions, taking into consideration any obstacles in the plant and/or human operator zones.
Once optimized, these same virtual manufacturing lines can be used as a training aid for new operators who can be immersed in virtual facilities and be trained to operate a manufacturing line before they are even on the manufacturing floor, improving productivity and safety of the operator as they train in a safe off-line environment. The capability of creating a virtual automated facility to analyze workflows and layouts before raw materials are purchased, helps engineers design correctly the first time, avoiding reworks, reducing costs and time, and improving plant safety.
The Future of VR
While VR continues to make a big impact across many industries, the possibilities of improving the technology, its use, and expanding across even more industries are countless. For those already taking advantage of the technology, the benefits will grow exponentially. Further improvements to the functionality of VR will help increase productivity, improve efficiencies, and save time and money for those utilizing it in its current state. Even though the technology is constantly changing and improving, introducing VR now will help your company gain an advantage over competitors that may still be rooted in traditional manufacturing methods.
To learn more about how Parker is using advanced design and computer modeling to provide customers with more efficient systems in a quicker timeframe, watch this video:
Leading with purpose
Parker is dedicated to constantly innovating filtration technologies that not only improve the lifespan of our customers' equipment, but also aim to make a real difference in the communities that we live in and for our world by protecting and purifying for our customers' toughest applications with diverse solutions. Learn more about Parker Purpose
This article was contributed by Simon Padron, mechanical engineer, Filtration Innovation Center, Parker Hannifin and Jennifer Kirallah, group demand generation manager, Parker Hannifin.
30 Jun 2020