Warner Electric brings electromagnetic clutches and brakes to first iVT Expo in USA
This year, Europe’s beloved iVT Expo crossed the Atlantic Ocean – organizing its first U.S. tradeshow in Chicago, Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
During the show, Warner Electric Global Sales Director Mourade Vaneeckhoutte & National Account Manager Tim Heikkinen spent time with the Altra Marketing department to discuss one of the biggest trends among off-highway equipment: electrification.
The following interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Tell us a bit about the electrification trend in this market.
Mourade Vaneeckhoutte: The off-highway industry is going through a transition. The journey started about 10-12 years ago, with the forklift truck industry converting from internal combustion engines to electric drives. And we now see a trend of construction equipment – more precisely, compact construction equipment – also converting to electric drives.
There's also a trend in the agriculture industry, with electric robots finding their place in the market. New equipment that is electrically driven … therefore, requires an electromagnetic brake that serves as a parking brake, but also has emergency stop capabilities. And this is where we add our part, our piece to the drivetrain assembly.
Tim Heikkinen: Aerial work platforms … [larger] types of equipment … These were all hydraulic brakes. A diesel engine drove the hydraulic pump, which powered the wheel drives … And it made sense to electrify that type of equipment.
Imagine they’re repainting a bridge. They don't need to run that engine to drive the machine. They move it 5 feet. They do their painting. They move it 5 feet. They don't need to have that engine running all the time, powering the hydraulics. It’s an electrically driven machine.
… And we're seeing that trend go across the board, not only in industrial aerial work platforms, but construction equipment and agriculture equipment. And as our technology improves, and the need for further electrification comes along, we’re there to meet the needs.
Q: Can you describe one of Warner’s key brake offerings?
MV: Our PK brake is an electromagnetically released spring-applied brake. When you energize the coil of this brake, you release a moving armature that is in inside … and you release it against the spring pressure. So with that, a friction disc … which will connect to the electric motor … is free to rotate.
TH: This is very popular in the forklift and aerial work platform market. In the past, the brake was smaller, because the applications were smaller. However now, companies are seeing the benefit of full electrification on large machines. So now we're going larger on the PK brakes, the ERS brakes, the 1907 brakes, the whole family.
Q: What was the first PK brake Warner sold?
TH: It was on what they call a boom lift. … It was a smaller version, a 25-foot-tall boom lift. Now we're working on PK brakes for boom lifts up to 80-foot-tall … In other words, they can raise the worker up 85 feet into the air.
Some other applications and machinery that are upgrading from diesel/hydraulic to full electrification are mining equipment … large scissors lifts that can bring workers up 20, 30 feet in the air to do mining work, do infrastructure work, string electrical in the mine shafts … What they consider “rough terrain vehicles,” typically a scissor lift or boom lift, is on a flat, level surface in a warehouse.
However, they're using these for road construction, where they may be parked on a slope, a ditch, or a medium … they have large tires, big suspension … and our brakes are able to hold a heavier load.
Learn more about the PK (very thin) brake
Q: Mourade, you mentioned the electrification trend started 10 to 12 years ago … can you speak to how rapidly things have changed?
MV: The forklift truck industry was basically the trendsetter. They were the first to make that move from hydraulics to electric drives. It all started off with fairly small equipment, a simple pallet truck and order picker. Then it moved to heavier equipment.
We are now seeing large container trucks being electrified. … In the construction industry, a skid steer loader is being electrified, the compact track loader is being electrified … and it will go on and on and on towards larger equipment … Some of the analysts we’ve talked to believe that by 2030, 50% of the construction equipment market will be electric.
Q: Can you speak to the value of Warner Electric’s decades of engineering experience?
MV: It all starts with capturing the voice of the customer. What we are good at is sitting together with our customers. Most of the time, it all starts with a sketch on a piece of paper on the corner of the table. We take that back to our engineering departments and we design a product around that.
We will try to use as [many] standard components as we can, like the moving armature springs, etc. But when it comes to the mounting … the cables, the connectors, the features that are required … the sensors to detect if the brake is on or off … we can customize, and really provide a product that is a plug and play product for the OEM.
TH: A lot of times people come to us to discuss a standard catalog product. Then, when we get more into the discussion, we find out that it's much more specialized. That's why we have engineering teams throughout the world that specialize in creating custom solutions for custom applications. Typically, a lot of our catalog products started out that way, as very specialized products for specialized applications. And as they evolved, they became more standard across the board.
Q: How does Warner Electric balance cost with customization?
MV: This is obviously not the automotive industry. We do not make parts by the millions, or the 10s of millions. But as a market leader – and, being involved since the early beginning, from the transition with the forklift trucks – we are producing more than reasonable volumes. All the core components of the brake, we were able to standardize that.
Because of the volume that we have, where we customize, is really what is important for the customers … the mounting PCD, the length of the brake, the diameter of the brake, the features, the sensors … These are the things that we can customize around the standard components, which we manufacture in fairly high volumes. And that offers us flexibility. This also explains why we are really fast to market with our solutions.
Learn more about Warner Electric’s unique speed-to-market capabilities
Q: Is there a final message you’d like to share?
MV: The brake is very, very important. It is a key safety function on that machine. It will hold your vehicle in place. It will hold your vehicle in place when it's parked on a slope.
Bear in mind that the brake is out there. It's a very important function on your machine. Please think about it when you are designing, when you are working on the design of your drivetrain. Don't keep it for last. Because if we are involved early in the project, we can come up with design ideas that make the integration a lot a lot better, and a lot more cost effective.
Click here to learn more about Warner Electric’s product offerings in the off-highway market.