A new product from Eaton can provide real-time information on the condition and remaining service life of a machine’s hydraulic hoses
How many trips have you made to town just to get a hydraulic hose repaired? How many hours have your machines sat idle in the field while you did that? And what do you think all of that cost your operation?
Engineers at Eaton just introduced new technology they believe can go a long way toward minimizing those losses. It’s the company’s new LifeSense system, which monitors hydraulic hose condition and provides an estimate of the number of service hours remaining before a failure.
“People have no idea when a hose is going to fail,” says Subhasis Chatterjee, director, agriculture and forestry segment at Eaton. “They don’t want it to fail on the line (at work). With this system you know exactly when the hose is going to fail.”
Chatterjee was manning Eaton’s display booth at Ag Connect Expo in Kansas City this past January to show LifeSense to both farmers and equipment manufacturers.
Not surprisingly, electronics are at the heart of LifeSense. A sensor attached to one end of the hydraulic line sends a current through the braided-steel hose. Based on the amount of resistance detected, LifeSense calculates the time remaining before the hose will suffer a complete failure. “It’s basically measuring resistance across the length of the hose,” Chatterjee adds. “You cannot put it in everywhere, but you can use it with hoses that are critical to the application.”
One of the key benefits of LifeSense is it doesn’t just alert an operator to an imminent failure, it provides a continuous analysis of the remaining life of a hose. With each system able to monitor up to 11 separate hoses, its capable of keeping track of several machine systems at once. Armed with that information, operators or mechanics will know well ahead of time when to bring a machine in for repairs. That makes it possible to plan hose replacements during regular scheduled maintenance, which could eliminate a lot of downtime.
“It can measure deterioration over a period of time,” Chatterjee continues. “It’s not just telling you this is going to fail, but it tells you this is going to fail in another so many hours. It’s very precise.”
LifeSense can also send the data wirelessly to a smart phone, providing farm managers with one more piece of digital information to help him or her keep tabs on an equipment fleet.
Any fluid systems, especially those that carry corrosive compounds or chemicals which are very hard on hoses, can be monitored by LifeSense. That can be particularly useful in preventing the potential loss of high-value fluids or avoiding contamination of soils.
But before farmers ever see any machine equipped with Eaton’s LifeSense, Chatterjee has to convince the manufacturers to integrate the system into their machines. It won’t be readily available through the aftermarket for retrofits onto existing equipment.
By showing LifeSense at Ag Connect Expo, Eaton was trying to create some buzz for it. By giving both farmers and manufacturers a look at it and explaining the potential benefits, the company hopes it can convince some brands to build LifeSense into the design of future machines.
“This is a product that has brought in a lot of accolades for Eaton,” says Chatterjee. “We’re trying to show how we can make it better for farmers, the endusers.” †