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Hydraulics meets automation

01 May 2023

WITH THE Hydraulics for You (H4U) software platform and the ctrlX AUTOMATION toolkit, Bosch Rexroth has transferred the control functions of hydraulics, which are traditionally hardware-agnostic, into hardware-independent software modules. This enables the use of apps to access the functions.

Using H4U, hydraulic functions can be flexibly designed and directly integrated into existing automation environments – and ctrlX AUTOMATION. Bosch Rexroth's automation toolkit has relied on the principle of app technology since 2019. As a consistently open automation platform, ctrlX AUTOMATION provides all hardware and software components for complete automation solutions and complements the partner network ecosystem, ctrlX World, into which third-party providers can integrate their solutions.

Steffen Winkler, vice president sales automation and electrification solutions business unit at Bosch Rexroth, explained: “With its rigorous hardware independence, H4U too is following the path Bosch Rexroth has taken towards openness. This is an important and logical step. After all, software and connectivity are the drivers for the smart factory.”

“Bosch Rexroth is raising industrial hydraulics to the next level and is turning hardware-agnostic hydraulics functions into hardware-independent software modules. These integrate seamlessly into new and existing automation architectures,” said Guido Hettwer, senior vice president industrial hydraulics business unit at Bosch Rexroth. He added: “Hydraulic components are already very efficient. However, the architecture and the control technology for the hydraulic system still offer potential for saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions and increasing productivity. This is where our apps come in.”

Increasing productivity and sustainability in hydraulics

H4U raises the success factors usability, sustainability and performance to a new level for machine and system manufacturers as well as end users. The solution includes functions which help to save energy. One example is the hydraulic control of the pressure and volume flow (p/Q). An energy saving of 30% was achieved in a press application with a multi-axis system. The degree of savings depends on the load cycle and application conditions. Hydraulic systems can be tuned in advance for energy efficiency.

H4U also allows greater flexibility, for example, when adapting production systems to meet changing customer requirements. It is no longer necessary to adapt the hardware in the automation environment.

Implementing the apps on existing control hardware saves time and money as end users no longer need to provide additional training. In addition, the software modules can be used to simulate entire machines, systems and production processes and, for example, to calculate the energy savings in advance. This saves time during engineering and commissioning.