The electrification of non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) aims to eliminate their carbon emissions. For the industry, electrification means, for example, completely redesigning the power transmission systems of machines and, in some cases, also their entire structures. Researchers at Tampere University and LUT University are developing hybrid and electronic transmission solutions as part of a large co-development project that also involves businesses and networks.
The production of NRMMs is Finland’s fourth largest export industry with 50–80% of its turnover coming from exports. The soon-to-be-launched Electro-Mechanical vs More electric Actuator, EMMA2 project aims to improve the international competitiveness of Finnish mobile machine manufacturers.
The goal of the joint innovation project is to develop sustainable and commercially viable technical solutions for the electrification of mobile machinery, such as forestry tractors, mining vehicles and agricultural machinery. In April 2022, Business Finland granted approximately EUR 3 million to the project.
Tampere University and Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT are responsible for the research part of the project.
New system-level knowledge accelerates product development
Most large and heavy mobile machinery is still powered by internal combustion engines, and their power transmission solutions and designs have not changed much in decades. Because the challenges related to electrifying machinery are system-level, creating solutions requires the collaboration of many parties.
The electrification of machines often requires a new way of thinking about entire implementations. In the EMMA2 project, the universities are breaking down the barriers of development by contributing system-level knowledge, and expertise on the operation of mobile machinery.
The Innovative Hydraulics and Automation (IHA) group at Tampere University, which specialises in hydraulics and automation research, is also developing tools to help designers choose the most suitable components and systems for their machinery.
“Our aim is to develop a novel system-level architecture especially for high performance linear hydraulic systems. The modelling and simulation methods will speed up companies’ product development processes by up to a half,” says Assistant Professor Tatiana Minav who leads the project at Tampere University.
LUT’s research teams operate on the multidisciplinary MORESIM research platform analysing the impact of different electrified components and power transfer solutions on the design and operation of complete machines. They are also developing digital twins of the machines to be electrified and studying the impact of electrification on the NRMM business.
The actuator simulation models developed at Tampere University will be connected to virtual NRMMs at LUT where the machine structures will be optimised to meet the goals of the project.
“We cannot assume that hydraulic actuators can simply be replaced by electric ones. Many things – such as the weight and maximum power of the actuators – will change, which causes changes in the durability of the structures and the usability of the machines. New solutions can easily be developed by testing them in virtual work environments,” says Professor Heikki Handroos, leader of the project at LUT.
Manufacturers are closely involved in the development process
In addition to the universities, developing the electrification of non-mobile machinery also involves companies that produce equipment and components for hydraulic systems as well as suppliers, system developers, digital solution providers, and distribution networks.
A total of 14 companies are involved plus the FIMA Forum for Intelligent Machines, which represents some 30 companies.
The joint project will support the development of the industry-led SIX Mobile Work Machines cluster and the associated Tampere University’s platform of excellence in mobile work machinery research. By 2025, SIX Mobile Machines aims to make Finland known as the best place in the world to develop and manufacture mobile work machines. The SIX Mobile Work Machines cluster is part of the wide-ranging national Sustainable Industry X, SIX initiative. SIX promotes innovation and competence development and sustainable growth in Finnish industry.
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