In this interview, Doug LeRoy, Global Market Manager at LORD, discusses how advances in the technologies used in steer-by-wire (SbW) systems are fueling the adoption and growth of electric steering systems.
Please explain the differences and advantages of steer-by-wire (SbW) systems over conventional mechanical steering control systems.
Electric steering systems simplify vehicle assembly and replace traditional vehicle parts such as steering columns, shafts, pumps, hoses, belts and coolers. They offer more precise brake and steering control. However, simply incorporating electric steering does not ensure a robust steering solution that provides the smoothness and control fidelity needed for precise, safe vehicle operation. LORD Corporation, as a supplier of magnetically responsive (MR) tactile feedback devices (TFD®) for use in steer-by-wire systems, has pioneered several solutions that enable robust SbW systems.
As SbW systems become more popular, which markets are adapting these systems into their vehicles and why?
Steer-by-wire (SbW) systems are becoming increasingly prevalent in the industrial vehicle market, especially for material handling vehicles, and more recently, agricultural and construction trucks. Currently, the industrial lift truck market is one of the major users of electric steering systems. The need to increase productivity, optimize energy usage, and enhance operator ergonomics in the areas of safety and comfort, makes SbW systems very appealing to lift truck manufacturers.
How have LORD Corporation’s magnetically responsive (MR) tactile feedback devices (TFD®) changed the face of electric steering systems?
Electric steering systems require an input device – such as a LORD TFD® Steer-By-Wire brake. Advances in sensing technology have allowed LORD TFDs to provide more precise driver control while offering cost-savings to vehicle manufacturers.
Pure electric steering systems do not necessarily offer steering “feedback” to the driver since the steered wheels are isolated from the operator. As a result, operators may not have a sense of control over the steering wheel – something they are used to experiencing with hydraulic or mechanical steering.
If a steering wheel is connected to a sensor without any variable feedback resistance, the steering wheel might spin out of control if the driver hits a bump or the vehicle could be difficult to control precisely. A LORD TFD provides controllable torque to stabilize the steering wheel, enabling the operator to be in better control of the vehicle.
Making the vehicles more comfortable and safe for the driver is of prime importance to industrial vehicle manufacturers. How does LORD Corporation’s MR-enabled TFDs help to enhance the operator’s driving experience?
MR-enabled TFDs provide two main functions in a vehicle system - the first is to provide a sensor that measures how far an operator wants to turn the steering wheel. The sensor communicates the steering wheel position to the vehicle, telling it how much to turn. Second, the TFD provides tactical feedback to the driver – a control torque response – that gives the operator a feeling of “connectedness” to the vehicle.
LORD Corporation’s strong electro-mechanical development background has made it a leader in choosing the best sensor for an application. We are very familiar with sensors and safety levels, and offer multiple levels of safety and redundancy in the sensor system.
With a LORD TFD® Steer-By-Wire brake and electric steering, a warehouse truck operator can navigate more accurately through narrow aisles and safely turn corners faster. The combination of more precise driver control and safety leads to increased productivity, a cost-saving advantage for any industrial business.
It’s really about more than just making the operator feel good when driving. If the operator feels more in control of the vehicle, he will operate the equipment with more confidence. Ultimately, this leads to more productivity.
OEMs and suppliers take a closer look at steer-by-wire systems.
Founded in 1924, LORD Corp. is a privately-held company that designs, manufactures and markets mechanical brakes and electromechanical systems to control vibration, motion and noise; formulates...