Highlights from the Eaton Distributor Meeting

There is much to report after a whirlwind visit to Orlando for my third Eaton Distributor Meeting, in which I met with different market leaders for the Hydraulics group, including construction and material handling; alternative energies; industrial hydraulics; and agriculture. I’ll be giving full reports from those markets but I just wanted to give a quick run-down of some of the big news that came out of the four-day event.

Stay tuned for more details on some of the following:

    • A surprise to even Eaton staffers was the news that Astrid Mozes, currently President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the Hydraulics Group, is now the new Eaton Hydraulics Chief Technology Officer. An official release will come soon.
    • One of the coolest new products Eaton is launching in January 2014 is for the industrial hydraulics market. A low-speed, high-torque motor, the Hydre-MAC motor will be taking on its lone competitor in the field, a similar design from Bosch Rexroth’s Hägglunds division. This motor, which can be seen in slow operation in the accompanying video, will be a fit for industrial markets such as conveyor systems in mining, marine winching applications, oil and gas, and more, said Willie Harbert, Eaton’s Business Unit Manager, Actuation, Projects and Service. It is rated for displacements of 3 to 50 L. And unlike most other low-speed, high-torque designs, said Harbert, this is a radial piston cam lobe motor. Although it can go at speeds as low as 1 rpm, he says it’s all about the high torque density at the end of the day. And for this Ohio girl, I’m happy to say it’s being manufactured in my home state.

  • One of Eaton’s most unique products is its LifeSense Hose, which is the hydraulic market’s only real “smart” hose. It can predict failure and let users know it’s time to replace a hose before a catastrophic failure. Eaton revealed this product line just prior to IFPE 2011, and it continues to expand it, making a push for its distributors to get certified in designing, installing and maintaining systems that use LifeSense. The company is announcing new sizes for the hose, including offering more wire-braid sizes, including -04 and -06, which Kelly Floyd, Product Manager LifeSense, Synflex Hydraulic, says is about 90% of the wire-braid market. Spiral designs will be available next year. And in addition to the traditional wired and wireless designs (which work off of standard wireless Internet), Eaton is working on designs that can use cellular and satellite signals for remote locations. As they explained in their presentation to distributors, although the initial cost of switching to LifeSense is high, it will quickly pay for itself in just one year. LifeSense is Eaton’s top-of-the-line hose, says Floyd. And they concluded by saying that there is no other hydraulic hose that will outperform this.

    Eaton Hydraulics LifeSense hose 300x225

    Eaton’s LifeSense Hydraulic Hose, which uses sensors to detect potential problems and failure, helping to reduce premature hose replacement and failure.

  • In the mobile controls area, Eddie Phillips, marketing manager for Electronic Controls & Software, highlighted the company’s Pro-FX controllers and displays as well as its online configuration software, which is designed to “empower distributors and customers to take the management of their control system into their own hands,” Phillips said. This allows them to use the software tool chain without being software engineers; in the past, they relied on Eaton to complete that software development. The Pro-FX microcontrollers feature state-of-the art processors and memory, and are rated for –40° to 105° C. They are robust, featuring IP67 and IP69K ratings and flexible inputs and outputs. The HFX32 controller is constructed of diecast aluminum and features Deutsch connectors for operation in the harshest of environments, Phillips said. It features four I/O packages. The CAN-based device features three ports on each controller, with each port being individually controlled. Two new displays— 4.3 and 7 in.—feature optimal bonding so that when the LCD is assembled to the cover lens, no gap exists between them. This ensures best viewing in sunlight and at angles and protects against foggability, Phillips added.
  • A final product highlight was the updated, ready-to-be-launched, Axis Pro proportional valves, which will be available by the end of the year in two sizes (size 3 and 5). With a high-pressure rating of 350 bar (250 bar to tank port), the Axis Pro valves will be available in four levels, said William F. Wesmann, Marketing Manager, Industrial Hydraulics and Controls. What really sets these valves apart, he said, is that they come with a diagnostic lens port, which allows you to see basic diagnostic information, such as whether there is power to the valve. A variety of error codes can be read in the port lens, with a label on the side of the valve detailing what each code means. In addition, it can be connected to a PC for more advanced diagnostics. The Level 2 design features an on-board motion controller, which reduces the need for a separate motion control device and cabinet. It can be controlled with a simple PC. Communication to the valve can be done via CANOpen. In Level 3, sensors are integrated into the valve and in Level 4, they are programmed in CODESYS language.

In addition to full details, including specifications and operating data on these products, I’ll also be reporting on Eaton’s other new platforms, including its cylinder configurator; updated, online version of its PowerSource distributor app, which allows them to design system solutions easily; and its efforts in the alternative energy, construction and material handling, agriculture markets will come next.

Outside the hydraulics realm, I also met Richard C. Harwell, Advanced Solutions Manager, and talked briefly about Eaton’s electrical business. I’ll be reporting on Wire & Cable Tips about Eaton’s Green Wire Technlogy later.

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