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From combine harvesters to tilting trains: hydraulics rule!

06 May 2015

Hydraulic motors and pumps power combine harvesters through the punishing Russian harvest season, and help Swiss high-speed train operators deliver a comfortable ride for their passengers.

From its factory in Pessano, Italy, Eaton provided these hydraulic power packs for the tilting bogies, each unit containing piston pumps, slip-in cartridge valves, servo valves and filtration products from Eaton’s range

Agriculture plays a leading role in the economy of the Rostov area in southern Russia, with fertile black earth and great weather conditions combining to create a solid foundation for economic growth. Rostselmash is one of the world's five largest producers of combine harvesters and agricultural equipment, and the company has enjoyed a longstanding and successful collaboration with Eaton Hydraulics

A testament to this successful co-operation is the effectively managed harvest season by the leading player in Russia’s bottled oil industry and the country’s largest agricultural producer, Yug Rusi, who has been using Rostselmash agricultural equipment for more than 80 years.

In a more recent collaboration, Yug Rusi made a request for agricultural equipment that would allow for continuously variable power transmission in any gear and provide a wide range of operating speeds to make effective use of its combines in both high-yield and low-yield fields. High road speeds were also important in order to reduce the amount of time the machines spend getting from one place to another.

Rostselmash turned to Eaton for help with this project, the latter having recently developed a hydrostatic transmission for the Rostselmash ACROS combine harvester range that included an Eaton Series 1 closed-circuit motor and pump arrangement to ensure a wide range of operating speeds, as well as high combine road speeds.

With their new transmissions, Yug Rusi’s Rostselmash combine harvesters have not only improved their ability to move up and down slopes, thus reducing the amount of time the machines spend getting from one place to another, but their improved reliability has proved a boon to operations at the height of the harvest season. Yug Rusi reports that it is now able to process 250 hectares on average using the Rostselmash combine harvesters. Business is brisk at Yug Rusi’s Rostov Farm, as farm manager Sergei Alekseyenko explains:

“We need equipment that's productive, but at the same time easy to use. Eaton’s hydraulic transmissions allow our combines to travel over even the roughest ground. This is a big plus when harvesting not only grain, but also oil-bearing crops. All of this enables us to keep prospering and growing.” Rostselmash marketing director Alexei Moshnenko agrees:

“Eaton is the primary hydraulics partner for a number of our key combine harvesters,” he says. “Consistent high quality, reliability, and robust technology are the deciding factors for us. Orders for Rostselmash combine harvesters with Eaton’s hydraulics products continue to grow, and that's why the future of our business relationship looks bright.”

Tilting trains
Train operators have three goals when getting passengers from one destination to another – safety, comfort and speed. Running trains at speeds of up to 250kph might solve passengers’ travel time woes, but the cost of installing dedicated high speed track, with gentle curves and gradients, is prohibitive for all but the most profitable routes. In Switzerland’s case, with its numerous mountains and lakes, building a dedicated high-speed rail infrastructure is impractical.

However, Swiss train operator, SBB has found the perfect solution to this problem in the form of Alstom’s ETR 610 class railway vehicles. SBB has ordered nineteen ETR 610 trains, each comprising seven carriages that can carry up to 430 passengers at speeds of up to 250kph on regular rail routes. And they are able to achieve these speeds, despite curves in the track, thanks to the use of a modern version of the ‘tilting’ train mechanism.

Early ‘passive tilt’ trains relied on inertial forces to initiate the tilt motion. More recently, however, a computer-controlled mechanism is used to perform ‘active tilt’ motion. In reactive mode, bends in the track are detected by gyroscopes, which determine their precise angle, and by accelerometers situated on the first bogie of the lead car. The on-board computer ascertains the tilt angle required and transmits an order to each carriage’s bogie cylinders, timed according to their position and the speed of the train.

From its factory in Pessano, Italy, Eaton provided the hydraulic power packs for the tilting bogies, each unit containing piston pumps, slip-in cartridge valves, servo valves and filtration products from Eaton’s range.

This hydraulic tilting bogie activates the body shell’s tilting. To improve the train’s dynamic performance and passenger comfort, an active lateral air suspension system keeps the body shell centred. By reducing unsprung and simple suspended masses, the train’s dynamic behaviour has been optimised, and its wheel forces minimised. 

The tilting pantograph is mounted on a sliding carriage that is fixed firmly to the roof of the train and this also features Eaton hydraulic components. When the train tilts, an active counter-translation hydraulic system slides the carriage sideways to compensate for the tilt, allowing the pantograph to remain in its central position. 

In anticipative mode, the system relies on a database of the line’s parameters. By comparing this data to information received by on-board sensors, the system can pinpoint the train’s exact position on the line at any moment and order the corresponding tilt for the route as it is reached. By reacting quicker at approaching bends, it is less sensitive to track irregularities and so can offer a smoother transition.

The first train is currently undergoing homologation runs in Germany, as well as acceptance runs in Switzerland and Italy. Three were delivered last year, with the next delivery due to be handed over to SBB by the middle of 2015.

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