Let’s make our vehicle electric. The idea sounds easy, but the execution is more complicated. Switching the power source of a commercial vehicle or a piece of machinery from a combustion engine to electricity is challenging even for experienced machine designers, because few people know how to do it.
The pressure is increasing to launch environmentally friendly electric commercial vehicles and mobile machinery to the markets. The objective is to reduce emissions, save energy and improve safety.
When electric mobile machinery or commercial vehicles are developed, they may resemble traditional models on the outside, but everything has to be redesigned under the bonnet. The most demanding task is to redesign the vehicle’s power transmission system.
In addition, recharging infrastructure or systems, and even the strength of the power grid or connection, must be taken into account, because the vehicle will need a lot of power in a short charging period.
How much does it cost to develop and manufacture an electric commercial vehicle or piece of machinery? What are its life cycle costs? What kinds of environmental impact does it have? How much will electric operation enhance the work cycle?
These and many other questions will be answered if the conceptual design phase is carried out carefully. It is a prerequisite for successful planning and implementation.
The correct sizing of the system and a good concept are found through modelling and simulating. If the equipment in question should lift a load, transport it to another location and lower it, it is possible to calculate the kinds of component that are needed using modelling tools.
Simulation helps to identify possible vulnerabilities and malfunctions safely, and the product can be tested before it has been finished. In places that are critical for safety, attention must be paid to protecting batteries by reducing the risk of fire or eliminating the chance of it altogether.
The selection of components is important, because the wrong components can ruin the whole system. If the battery capacity is too low, the machine cannot be used for the whole shift but must be recharged before the shift ends. Components that are too small may become overheated and prevent the machine from working efficiently, which reduces the efficiency of the whole operation. The wrong kinds of component may not withstand demanding conditions or fail to pass EMC measurements.
There are plenty of component suppliers, and it can be difficult to find a good package using Google.
Technology related to electric commercial vehicles and mobile machinery is developing rapidly. Comatec ensures that its experts are up-to-date by cooperating closely with Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). TAMK is the only university of applied sciences in Finland with expertise in the electrification of commercial vehicles.
In practice, cooperation means that Senior Lecturer in industrial engineering Lauri Hietalahti spends half his working time at Comatec taking part in knowledge exchange. He brings to our engineering company general knowledge and the latest updates related to equipment, features, safety, specifications and control that are needed when replacing traditional internal combustion engines with electric alternatives.
For example, the latest information about battery technology and the right kind of battery chemistry helps us model good and safe battery alternatives for different applications.
Comatec has shown that is has a wide range of design expertise when working with large global equipment manufacturers in demanding electrification projects.
We have strengthened our own conceptual expertise in projects where Comatec has been in charge of planning. Our electrical designs can be found in electric buses, premium golf cars and even in the design of a transport and installation vehicle that meets nuclear safety requirements.