Take a load off, Fanny

...if Fanny were the name of your engine system.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2014 were huge. They were massive. They were record-breaking. And there were very strong, common messages coming from the OE and system manufacturers present at the show. Get the power draw of auxiliary machine functions off of the engine, stat.

The engine system has been wrought with efficiency expectations for over a decade, and they've finally started crossing the emissions finish line (with the government already having signed them up for their next race, so thanks for that). Tier 4 Final engine system announcements were plentiful from major players like John Deere Power Systems, Cummins Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Volvo Construction Equipment, JCB Power Systems and Liebherr, to name a few.

But, beyond the T4F engines, the discussion was about separating the engine system from non-essential machine-driving tasks to alleviate the power draw. Fluid power and electronic system providers are taking on power steering, engine fan and cooling system functionality, and working tools like boom extension and attachment movement. They've been players in the past, but now they're leading the technology charge.

The way I see it, the engine system's efficiency capabilities have been a bit exhausted with so much attention being spent on them to achieve EPA regulatory approval, so OEMs are looking to the hydraulics and electronics on the machine to create other overall machine optimization and productivity opportunities. And yes, I know that engine manufacturers are always working and finding new ways to create a more efficient system and developing stronger, more precise and reliable engines with higher fuel efficiency—I am not claiming they are done evolving, because that would be just plain ignorant, but simply that the focus seems to be shifting away from engine efficiency and on to other vehicle systems to leverage lower-hanging efficiency fruit.

Also a huge message was smart system integration. The world of sensors and data collection is rapidly evolving into a behemoth of vehicle development and advancement. It makes me very excited for the technologies-yet-to-come for vehicle intelligence and automation, as well as the new information we can learn about how a machine can more efficiently operate from data extrapolation. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming Annual Product Showcase & Industry Directory issue! With over 1,000 products launched at CONEXPO & IFPE this year, the issue will be bursting with new technology.