Powering tomorrow’s hydraulic systems

Innovative frequency-controlled hydraulic system uses W22 from WEG

The global hydraulics market size is expected to reach USD 42.1 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 2.4 per cent. While hydraulics have traditionally been renowned for power, strength, durability and control, the need for more energy efficient systems is driving innovation in the sector. One such innovator is Oilmek AB, a Swedish developer and supplier of industrial hydraulics, who developed the Varius with bespoke features and crucially, higher energy-efficiency. To power this innovative system, Oilmek turned to motor and drives supplier WEG.

Experts in fluids and hydraulics

Based in Uddevalla, Sweden, Oilmek AB was founded by experts in fluids and hydraulics and prides itself on being incredibly knowledgeable in the field. Hydraulics systems are used in plants across the world, yet systems that deliver energy savings for individual customers’ needs are harder to find.

Like any other plant technology, hydraulics are key to companies’ obligations to operate more sustainably. That included Oilmek’s customer Renova, a company closely involved in recycling including producing paper consumption goods, which needed two complete hydraulic systems to make its large heating plant more energy efficient.

«Renova ‘owns’ the recycling industry in Gothenburg, Sweden,» explains Tomas Palm, sales leader at Oilmek AB, commenting on the company’s impressive status as a sustainability influencer. «Because the company is publicly owned, it faces extreme demands to be more environmentally friendly.»

Renova turned to Oilmek’s innovative Varius frequency-controlled hydraulic system. The Varius’ streamlined design is based on a unique method for controlling hydraulic units with a programmable logic controller (PLC).

Manufacturers should consider energy consumption and maintenance requirements, in order to determine total cost of ownership (TCO) of a motor

With the PLC, the frequency of the electric motor can be controlled more completely and accurately, according to the customer’s needs. The customer can get exactly the energy and control they need with a number of positive effects, including lower energy losses. The Varius system is shown to reduce energy consumption by 50 to 90 per cent in cylinder drives.

Longer lasting

Renova initially ordered two Varius hydraulic systems for use in its combustion heating plant. Aside from its bespoke capabilities, the customer wanted the Varius systems to operate for years ― if not decades ― with minimal maintenance, cost and shutdowns and maximum energy efficiency.

For this, Oilmek turned to WEG, its longstanding supplier of motors and drives. For the Varius, WEG had a specific motor in mind: the W22 three-phase induction motor.

«The W22 is relied-upon in a variety of industrial applications around the world,» explains Per Kulo, technical sales manager for WEG Scandinavia, and Oilmek’s main point of contact during the project. «The motor is also compatible with all available frequency inverters, which suited the Varius system.»

The W22 is coated in a thin layer of fire-retardant paint, making it suitable for applications that require a system with high fire safety

The W22 is designed for reduced noise and vibration levels, increased energy efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint. In addition, its lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance requirements give a lower total cost of ownership (TCO). The W22 is also coated in a thin layer of fire-retardant paint, which suited Renova’s requirements for a system with high fire safety.

«The W22 also allows downsizing,» adds Palm. «Big process motors are heavy, and standard motors in this particular application can weigh over 300 kilos a piece. Using the W22 from WEG, we’ve been able to lose 100 kilos of weight. The motor’s reduced noise and vibration levels are also helpful in hydraulic systems that can sometimes produce high frequency, high volume sounds.»

All about trust

Oilmek’s choice of supplier was about more than the features of its W22 motor. It was also down to a trusted partnership, as the two companies have been working together for more than seven years and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Oilmek needed a supplier it could trust to deliver the technology on-time, despite ongoing travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

Global supply chain disruption means it’s more important than ever to choose a partner you can rely on

«There has been a huge problem with deliveries,» says Kulo. «That’s why WEG’s warehouse in Mölnlycke, Sweden, an hour’s drive from Uddevalla, was a massive advantage. We received the motors within two-to-three days.»

Palm adds, «I wouldn’t think of having another supplier, because we wouldn’t have Per Kulo and his team’s exceptional support. WEG’s consultancy and problem-solving has been a great help to us on many projects.»

Tomorrow’s technology

After reporting positive feedback, Renova repeated its order and now has four fully-operational Varius hydraulic systems in its combustion heating plant. Elsewhere, Oilmek has delivered more than 350 Varius systems since the technology was introduced, ten years ago. The W22 remains integral to powering these systems.

«This is tomorrow’s technology,» ends Tomas Palm. «It is how all hydraulic systems will look in the future, and we will continue to do this with WEG’s support.»

For more information, visit www.weg.net