Eaton advanced electrohydraulic system increases automation and control on Wastech refuse trucks
“The new Eaton F(x) system has allowed us to take the next step in the evolution of our front-lift truck with confidence and reassurance that our trucks can work efficiently and reliably in the most remote areas of Australia. The improved feel of the joystick and the new screen have operators convinced that this is the best front-lift truck they have ever driven.”
Wastech Managing Director
With the help of Eaton components, Australian-made refuse trucks are setting new standards in automation and control.
Model EVO31 trucks made by Wastech Engineering P/L of Hallam, Victoria, have almost effortless frontlift functionality by way of a complete Eaton F(x) advanced electrohydraulic system, featuring an Eaton EFX electronic controller, VFX display screen and JFX joystick; Vickers® screwin cartridge valves; and Aeroquip® hose and fittings.
For nearly two years, Wastech relied on Eaton components, integrated with a competitive controller and screen, for hydraulic system circuitry on its EVO31 trucks. All went well until the trucks began to experience electrical instability. Wastech turned to the Eaton competitor—and Eaton— for answers.
“Wastech needed a controller that could manage the main directional control valve, without unwanted cylinder movements caused by a drop in voltage,” said Mark Newson, Eaton sales engineer.
“We soon realized that the problem stemmed from the limitations of the competitive controller that was designed for an industrial platform, not a mobile platform like the Eaton EFX controller. The industrial controller simply could not handle the fluctuating voltages of a commercial vehicle.”
Newson presented the Eaton EFX controller as a perfect fit for the application, but met reluctance head-on due to the newness of the product in the Australian market. Meanwhile, the competitor was also working hard to provide a solution—and for good reason. Both the competitor and Wastech were fully aware that staying with the existing controller had a big advantage: no change in software would be needed, which would be a big cost-savings.
“Switching to the Eaton controller, which was not compatible with the current software, meant that a new program would need to be developed from start to finish,” Newson said. “Since this would be a costly endeavor, we knew we needed to work even harder to instill customer confidence in the Eaton controller.”
Putting even more pressure on Eaton was the fact that the competitive controller had features that were not yet offered on the Eaton VFX screen. It offered a picture-inpicture function that displayed a camera feed with standard touch-screen functionality at the same time. The controller also offered four direct camera feeds.
During several meetings with Wastech personnel, Eaton’s Hydraulics Group in Tullamarine, Victoria, presented the features and strengths of the complete Eaton F(x) system versus the weaknesses of an industrial platform adapted to run on a mobile platform.
The first order of business was to point out that the F(x) solution utilizes a Controller Area Network (CAN) joystick that is especially applicable to commercial vehicle applications in a far simpler design and provides a “fail safe” operation inert to voltage fluctuations. Placing the joystick on the CAN would immediately solve many of the issues caused by the current analog ratio-metric joystick and reading the information via a 0-10v input.
“We emphasized that by reading the J1939 CAN information from the truck engine’s electronic control unit, the EFX system would generate important data about the truck’s operation and thereby enable the operator to respond as needed,” Newson said. “For instance, the system would enable the operator to
control engine rpm under a certain set of conditions.”
The Eaton team then demonstrated the system’s VFX 100m 10.4-inch touchscreen control panel that provides:
- Intuitive, touch-based control for load, unload and auto packing sequence features
- Instant access to the status of critical machine parameters
- Password-protected control over key settings and safety interlocks to allow owners to customize machine performance to fleet requirements
- Operator usage history for diagnostic, training and maintenance purposes
Very impressed with what they saw, Wastech engineers questioned if the system could be configured in such a way that it would offer the same features as picture-in-picture, with camera feeds whenever required without losing screen functionality.
The request brought the opportunity for Eaton’s local electrohydraulic experts to demonstrate their skills in working alongside customer engineers to meet specific application needs for the lifetime of Eaton products. Their work resulted in the complete camera functionality requested.
Following side-by-side comparison of the two controller systems, Wastech made the decision to standardize the Eaton system because it provided a total system solution and a very stable vehicle platform.
“With total control of the truck’s hydraulic and electrohydraulic systems, Eaton components have helped Wastech offer a much smoother operating truck,” Newson said.
And Wastech agrees.
“The new Eaton EFX system has allowed us to take the next step in the evolution of our frontlift truck with confidence and reassurance that our trucks can work efficiently and reliably in the most remote areas of Australia,” said Wastech’s Neil Bone, managing director.
“The improved feel of the joystick and the new screen have operators convinced that this is the best front-lift truck they have ever driven.”