Modern commercial vehicles and working machines in the off-highway sector are revealing an increasing number of functions that inform and support the operator. The desire for maximum possible mobility is leading to equally high demand for assistance and comfort functions. The steering system plays a particular role in this. The SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS exhibitors are responding with solutions that are optimally designed for the respective tasks of agricultural and construction machines.
Dynamic precision adjustment of the steering
Electro-hydraulic four-wheel-drive systems that enable the driver to adapt the steering mode manually so that the rear axle knows when and how to rotate are state-of-the-art.
The electro-hydraulic steering components are connected to the screen in the cockpit via a CAN bus. Field sprayer operators can therefore prevent the rear wheels from causing deep tracks which damage the soil and significantly increase diesel consumption.
Even more functionality is offered by digital actuators and sensors that enable dynamic adaptation of steering wheel revolutions: for safety when driving at high speed or for manoeuvring precision at low speed. While the actuator contains software tailored to the requirements, the sensor serves to determine the absolute position and the speed of the steering wheel. Automatic adaptation of the steering ratio depending on the vehicle's speed is also possible. The most recent innovations in the off-highway sector include failsafe steer-by-wire technologies. They enable the classic steering column to be replaced by smaller, more precise steering mechanisms. Thanks to these, operators of vehicles from small wheel loaders up to and including heavy-duty excavators can steer their machines entirely using joysticks or mini steering wheels – the driver benefits from a larger field of vision and better ergonomics.
Operation ergonomically under control
The increasing number of ever more complex devices and functions necessitates new operating concepts which support the driver without distracting or overtaxing him. For the OEM and retrofit market, design engineers are developing bespoke HMI solutions focussed on the driver's cockpit as a whole and oriented to the ergonomic requirements. The result is innovative electronic and mechatronic input solutions. All features of the climate-controlled cabs are adjustable and can be controlled using multi-touch displays that remain legible even in bright sunlight. Driving comfort is enabled by the combination of independent wheel suspension on the front axle, pneumatic cab suspension and the driver's seat with active suspension.
Multifunctional armrests bundle all key functions. Besides the seat functions, the vehicle functions are also adjusted here. For additional operating comfort, the terminals can be combined with an AUX joystick that can carry out up to 24 control commands. Help systems enable the driver to obtain information about the currently open application as well as its functions and settings at any time. Depending on equipment, GPS-aided steering systems and specialised sensors can also be integrated. Additional devices for displaying camera images are also available, ensuring safe navigation in any work situation.
The terminal as a universal control centre
The terminal in the cab is the central interface between man and the machine. Thanks to ISOBUS, farmers can operate several attachments using a standardised nine-pin connector and a common terminal. Based on the ISO 11783 standard, this technology guarantees cross-manufacturer data transfer and ensures that the driver always has the full range of functions in his sights. Tractors are therefore being factory-fitted with ISOBUS-capable terminals and sockets. To make the resulting advantages available to older vehicles as well, technology suppliers will be offering a range of retrofitting solutions at SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS.
The advantages are readily apparent: as soon as an attachment is connected, the operator can call up its application-specific user interface on the central terminal in the cockpit. Additional diagnostic functions enable the machine's sensors and actuators to be tested. This ensures that all systems are running correctly without the driver having to leave his seat. By means of a split-screen function, the simultaneous display of the data of two machines and a camera image, all necessary information is shown on one terminal. One example of this is maize sowing with a front-mounted tank for fertilizer dosing and an individual seed sowing machine at the rear. A Wi-Fi adapter connected to the ISOBUS socket also enables communication between the attachment and a tablet.
Sensors for improved safety
Systems that provide the operator with a 360-degree view of the vehicle's surroundings are indispensable in the cockpit. This technology reduces blind spots, enabling pedestrians and objects to be reliably detected. Sensors of the latest generation recognise problems with the tyre pressure equally as quickly as persons in the danger zone of machines and warn of collisions in good time by means of acoustic signals and messages on the display. Further cameras in the rear area reduce the risk of an accident in cramped yards and are used in automatic hitching processes.
Market-ready solution for the markets of the future
The trend towards electrification and automation in mobile working machines will be readily apparent from November 10th to 16th at SYSTEMS & COMPONENTS. OEMs, suppliers and users of working machines will be meeting up at the trade fair grounds in Hanover to discuss cutting-edge technology and forward-looking trends. A top-class technical programme with a variety of international events as well as specials and conferences concerning current issues will round off the technology presented by the exhibitors. Focus will be placed not only on dynamic assistance systems that ensure increased safety and comfort but also on entirely new automation concepts for all off-highway markets. The objective of the industry leaders is to increase the level of autonomy.