Marginal Column

Adaptive efficiency

A manufacturer of agricultural equipment, Foton Lovol, is equipping its enhanced-performance tractors with a modified electro-hydraulic hitch actuator. This helps to boost the efficiency of its prime movers.

 
Photo | Bosch Rexroth AG

In the new tractors built by Foton Lovol, EHR ensures that the attachments will achieve outstanding performance.

China’s economy and its population have grown steadily for years. This has caused increased demand for foods, too. To keep pace with that demand, many Chinese farmers are counting on improved efficiency via advanced technology. Collaboration with Foton Lovol International Heavy Industries, located in Shandong Province and one of China’s leading makers of agricultural machinery, resulted in an electro-hydraulic hitch control (EHR) modified to suit the needs of the Chinese market.

Traditionally, most tractors in the Middle Kingdom have been equipped with small engines, delivering drive energy in the double-digit horsepower range. Responding to market changes, Foton Lovol is now shifting its emphasis to engines developing more than 100 HP. The EHR is of great advantage to tractors like these, since otherwise the engine’s power would not be applied efficiently to the ground being worked. The EHR ensures that the tractor will assign maximum output to traction, keeping the tractor from bogging down. It replaces the mechanical hitch lift which, in the past, was used to raise and lower implements such as plows.

In this electro-hydraulic hitch system, the lifting apparatus is affixed to the tractor’s rear axle using force sensor pins and angle sensors; they measure tractive force and the location of the plow. Using the data thus acquired, the plow’s effective depth can be precisely controlled. The tilling pattern and depth always remain the same, even though soil hardness and other properties may vary. This boosts the yield of fields plowed in this way.

Working in close collaboration, Bosch Rexroth and Foton Lovol adapted the hitch control to the specifications formulated by the latter. The EHR is now working its magic in two classes of tractors, in demanding agricultural work. Ensuring that the movable hitch will function reliably even under adverse conditions requires both rugged components and pristine hydraulic fluid. That is why the customer decided to install a separate hydraulic fluid reservoir exclusively for the EHR, the goal being to achieve higher fluid quality and longer replacement intervals.

Jixun Zhang, deputy director of the Technology Center of the Agricultural Development Business Unit at Foton Lovol, knows how important reliability is to his customers. “Time is a decisive factor in agriculture. The costs – and losses – incurred during machine downtimes can be very high. The malfunction rate has been reduced tremendously, thanks to technical improvements.”