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Power saving in mobile hydraulic systems via Embedded Model Control

W. Acuna-Bravo, E. Canuto*, S. Malan Politecnico di Torino, Dipartimento di Automatica e Informatica Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129, Torino, Italy * Abstract
This paper deals with the dynamic modelling and subsequent control design and testing of a complex electro-hydraulic system. Modelling is based on physical laws and system knowledge. The main idea is to obtain a simple and reliable model that can be used for controller synthesis and implementation. A subsequent controller design procedure is made by using the architecture of Embedded Model Control. The effectiveness of the obtained controller is then validated by simulation experiments. Let imagine a hydraulic system with many loads (for example hydraulic cylinders) to be fed, if at any point some of them makes a position request, this directly generates a flow request, and of course a pressure change in the cylinder chamber. Now, to meet this requirement may be two ways, the first one considers a constant flow pump, and by using the output pressure to drive a control valve which determines the amount of flow sent to the load; the second one is based on a variable pump which is commanded according to the measurements, this last scheme is called Load Sensing, and will be discussed later. The main idea behind these compensation schemes, is to maintain the pressure drop between the pump output line and the cylinder as constant as possible, in such a way that the request may be satisfied, acting only on valve opening. The function principle of load sensing system can be considered in two different aspects regarding, if the pressure controlled pump is seen as a remote controlled pressure source or as a pressure difference dependent flow source [3].
Fixeddisplacement pump Variablepump press.controlled

1. Introduction
In mobile hydraulic systems, e.g., agricultural tractors, crawler excavators, and in general offhighway applications, the power consumption becomes a critical issue, not only by the simple fact of fuel economy but for more complex engineering facts, as the requirement of a bigger diesel engine or the demanding of more effective cooling units. An energy save system is then an unavoidable requisite to be accomplished. This performance requisite may be fulfilled by using a control strategy, which allows manipulating the system behaviour. These control strategies may be of different character, in general two strategies are used: the direct hydraulic action, given only by mechanical and hydraulic components; and the electro-hydraulic one, which considers the use of hydraulic elements regulated by solenoids driven by electronic signals product of the action of an electronic controller [1]. In this paper the adopted control approach follows the framework of the Embedded Model Control given in [2]. In this approach, the control law is designed and implemented around discrete-time simplified dynamics of the plant to be controlled, enhanced with the uncertainty dynamics to be rejected to guarantee performance. The problem of model simplification is well known in the control literature, where the main goal is to look for efficient algorithms capable of reducing the dynamics within a specified bound of the modelling error between the complex and the simplified model under the same class of commands. Different techniques have been proposed: singular perturbations, singular values, etc.

Variablepump LoadSensing controlled


Half flowused Maxpressdemand

Half flowused halfpressdemand


Figure 1. Power diagrams for different supply principles Figure 1 presents the energy diagrams for three different supply schemas: at left a constant pump, at centre variable pressure controlled pump and a variable LS controlled pump. Red, grey and white filled parts represent the wasted energy, used power and unused capacity, respectively. In comparison, load sensing system becomes the most efficient scheme.

978-1-4244-2728-4/09/$25.00 2009 IEEE

When there are simultaneously connected actuators with different load conditions a local pressure compensator may be connected in series with the control valve, in order to maintain the pressure difference over each valve spool as constant. Even LS systems are widely used and represent the natural control alternative in mobile hydraulics, they present some drawbacks as low response, poor stability and no feedback from the load to operator. In particular becomes of great importance the solution of the stability problems related to these kind of systems, treated in literature [4], [5].

The actuator is a solenoid-valve driven hydraulic motor; valve spool position is given by (1) xc ( s ) = c ( s, s ) is ( s ) a xa ( s ) , where, c stands for a term accounting the flux relation and the dynamics associated to the solenoid, driven by input current is affected by a time delay s . Term xa is the actuator position and a is a relation between spring constants.
Control valve



Qa Pa xa PT

2. System description
Let consider a hydraulic system as presented in Figure 2. Even though the circuit is formed by more parallel loads, for the sake of simplicity, only one has been shown in the figure.
Other loads

Figure 3. Pump hydraulic circuit. On the other hand, the actuator dynamic is given by xa = a ( Pa , xc ) xa + bc , a ( Pa , xc ) is + ha ( Pa , xc ) , (2) where the pressure drop Pa switches between two values depending on the valve stroke Pa ( xc > 0 ) = Pa . (3) Pa ( xc < 0 ) = P2 Pa where Pa is the actuator pressure and P2 is the secondary load line pressure. Terms a , bc , a , ha are nonlinear functions relating the pressure drop, the aperture function of xc and mechanical pump parameters. Because of the small actuator volume, the internal pressure dynamics may be neglected, then Pa Pa ,min + K d xa / Sa (4)

PLS , n
Flow request (bits)

Sensor + ADC Sensor + ADC


PLS ,1

Volume: 0.75 litre Preload: 10 bar

P3 Pck
Regulated pressure


Q1 load


Pb , Qb
Arbitrary load

P2 Qp


Control Unit

Figure 2. Electro-hydraulic under study


The essential elements of the network are: 1) an axial-piston variable pump driven by an electrohydraulic actuator, 2) the hydraulic load, composed by several parallel loads, part of them to be continuously supplied (priority loads) and part of them on demand, 3) a load-sensing control system, fed by load measurements and in charge of regulating the pump flow according to load demand. The hydraulic secondary loads are formed by a local pressure compensator, the control valve and a hydraulic cylinder. Additionally an arbitrary load is considered, this one free of any control valve.

where K d is the sum of spring constants and S a is the actuator section. The term Pa ,min represents a minimum pressure required to operate. The pump output flow is given by Q p = K p ( ) xa , xc > 0
Q p = K p ( ) xa Qa ( Pa , xc ) , xc < 0


K p ( ) = Q p ,max xa ,max


is the pump gain given by maximum flow and position. Qa is the flow supplied to actuator. Load control valve dynamics have been assumed to be a second order system described by xv ( s ) = v ( s, v ) uv ( s ) (7) where v defines the dynamics of the valve, affected by a time delay v . uv is a flow request input signal given in bits, which must be converted to stroke units. The hydraulic equation of the control valve is
Q2 ( t ) = C2 2P / f 2 ( xv ( t ) ) = 2 ( xv ( t ) ) P , (8)

3. Modelling process
The modelling process is driven by physical laws of the system and the support of measurement data. A previous report about pump modelling has been made in [6]. Further details can be seen in [7], [8]. Figure 3 presents the hydraulic circuit of the pump.

where C2 , f 2 ( xv ) , are the discharge coefficient, aperture function and oil density respectively. The term P describes a constant pressure drop across the valve, obtained under the assumption of ideal operation of a local pressure compensator. This element provides a constant pressure drop, even though there are different load conditions at the other loads. See [9] for further details. The supply line has been modeled as a unique volume V2 providing flow to the primary load, a constant flow; to secondary load, the flow has been described above; an arbitrary load, it is also called power beyond, and corresponds to an additional flow request. The pressure dynamics is given by
P2 =

The embedded model corresponds to a discrete version of (10) with the additional disturbance states, this is Ac H c x c xc Gc Bc x ( i + 1) = 0 A x ( i ) + 0 u ( i ) + G w ( i ) d d d d
y 1 0 0 0 xc 1 y ( i ) = 1 0 0 0 x ( i ) + 0 e ( i ) d m




Q1 2 P b ( ub ) P2 ,


where Q1 is the flow served to primary load. The most right term corresponds to the arbitrary load, driven by a binary signal ub . is the oil bulk modulus.

where xc ( i ) = [ P2 xa ] and x d ( i ) = xq xd are the controllable and disturbance states. Exogenous inputs correspond to white noise signals T w = [ wd 0 wa wd 1 wd 2 ] . Disturbance model has been considered as a second order dynamics given by Ad matrix in (12). Those disturbance states are uncontrollable from the input. Note the difference in (11) between the measured variable y which is corrupted by the model errors e , and the performance variable ym which is the model output, without corruption. Ac , Bc are dynamics and control matrices of the controllable model, additional matrices are

4. Control design
As was said before, the control strategy is based on the Embedded Model Control framework [2], which general characteristics are summarized next. The Embedded Model (EM) has been designed as a set of simple discrete-time equations, which in this case have been split into reference dynamics (actually partly simplified to be static) and variational dynamics, to cope with nonlinearities. The variational dynamics is given by the difference between total variables and nominal reference values, as follows P2 = P2 P2
b ( ub ) P2 Q2 K p ( ) xa V2 2 P2 xa = xa xa

1 1 h ; Hc = 2 Ad = 0 1 0

0 h ; Gc = 2 0 0 (12)

0 1 0 Gd = 1 0 1

4.1. Control law The control law is the combination of the nominal command, tracking errors and cancellation of disturbances. Due to decomposition of the Embedded Model into reference variables and variational state variables, the latter naturally plays the role of tracking errors. The total command is given by u (i ) = u (i ) + u (i ) , , (13) I s ,min u ( i ) I s ,max

P2 =


where decomposition into open-loop and variational command has been made. The variational command is given by

xa = a ( Pa , xc ) xa + bc , a ( Pa , xc ) is

u ( i ) = K ( xc ( i ) + Qx d ( i ) ) Mx d ( i ) ,


where is = is is . Another part of the control structure is the Reference generator. The reference model allows computing the reference command (open-loop) and the reference state variables of the controllable dynamics. The reference generator provides the nominal signals in (10). The variational dynamics is included (embedded) in the control unit as the core of the same, as it decouples measurements from commands, thus guaranteeing the latter ones to be coherent to model assumptions, notwithstanding parasitic dynamics and measurement noise affecting the measurements. Updating the disturbance states of the EM is the critical design part, as it uses the so called model error (measurements less model output) to real time estimate the noise driving the disturbance stochastic dynamics (noise estimator).

where the feedback gain is K = [ k2 ka ] , and Q, M are design matrices to provide disturbance cancelation. See [2] for further details about this topic. Clearly, matrix K must be designed by pole placement in such a way that the stability is guaranteed and some performance requirements fulfilled, e.g., low response variations in the face of model uncertainties.
4.2. Noise estimator The noise estimator provides a real-time estimate of the driving noise w in the EM. Without such an estimate, the EM is only driven by the command and therefore evolves in open-loop. The simplest way of obtaining the noise estimate is to employ a linear feedback driven by the model error e ( i ) .The noise estimator is given by

Ac xc x ( i + 1) = 0 d

H c xc (i ) + Ad x d

A simulation example has been presented in order to show the properties of the designed controller. (15)
70 Qp Q2 60 Qreq

B + c u ( i ) L ( y ( i ) ym ( i ) ) 0 x ym ( i ) = [1 0 0 0] c ( i ) xd


then, the noise estimator equation from (15) is

w ( i ) = Le ( i ) , e ( i ) = y ( i ) ym ( i ) .

Flows [l/min]




Matrix L must be designed by pole placement in such a way to minimize the effects of parasitic dynamics and measurement noise. Term e in (16) is an estimate of the model error.



10 Time [s]




5. Simulations
From control requirements, the line pressure must satisfy P2 = 2.0 MPa . Figure 4 shows the system pressures.
12 P2 PLS 10

Figure 5. Flow responses


8 Pressure [MPa]

This note has presented some recent work made within this area, advances and current results. Future work includes the model improvement, including neglected dynamics and a further stability analysis. The control strategy used here has shown to be efficient in simulation test made over hydraulic systems. A further development includes the control of hydraulic cylinders, valves and general hydraulic dispositives. References [1] Esders, H. Elektrohydraulisches Load-Sensing fr die [2]
Mobilhydraulic O+P lhydraulic und Pneumatic. Vol 38 no. 8, pp. 473-480, 1994. Canuto, E., Embedded Model Control: Outline of the theory, ISA Trans. Vol 46, no.3, 2007, pp.363-377 Erkkil, M., Practical Modelling of Load Sensing Systems, in Proc. of the Sixth Scandinavian Int. Conf. On Fluid Power, Tampere, Finland, pp. 445-458, 1999. Lantto, B., On Fluid Power Control. - with Special Reference to Load-Sensing. Systems and Sliding Mode Control, PhD thesis, Linkping, 1994. Lantto, B., Krus, P. and Palmberg, J-O.,Dynamic Properties of Load-Sensing Systems with Interacting Complex Mechanical Loads, Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control. Vol. 115, pp. 525530, 1993. W. Acua-Bravo, E. Canuto, S. Malan, D. Colombo, M. Forestello, R. Morselli, Fine and simplified dynamic modelling of complex hydraulic systems, in Proc. of the American Control Conference, 2009. X. Zhang, J. Cho, S.S. Nair, J. Manring, Reduced Order Modeling of the Dynamics of an Indexing Valve Plate Pump, in Proc. of the American Control Conference, 2000, pp.3595-3599. X. Zhang, J. Cho, S.S. Nair, J. Manring, New swash plate damping model for hydraulic axial-piston pump, Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control, vol. 123, 2001, pp.463-469. Petterson, H., Krus, P., Jannson, A and Palmberg, J.-O., The design of pressure compensators for load sensing hydraulic systems, In Proc. UKACC International Conference on Control. 1996, pp.1456-1461.

10 Time [s]




[3] [4] [5]

Figure 4. System pressures

The dashed red line represents the load sensing profile which is followed by the line pressure P2 (blue line). Black line shows the pressure drop P2 which satisfies the imposed requirements. Figure 5 shows the system flows. The dashed red line represents the flow request made by the operator, whereas the black one represents the flow through the distributor Q2 . The blue line corresponds to the pump flow, as it is clear, it includes the primary load flow.


6. Conclusions
This paper has shown the modelling and control of a electro-hydraulic system. Modelling was done by natural system rules, taking into account proper characteristics allowing the model simplification. Under this line of principles, the obtained model has been used as the core for the control strategy called Embedded Model Control, which provides the necessary information required to cancel disturbances.