Supplying smart hydraulic systems

By Roberta Prandi18 October 2022

Safim introduces at Bauma new power brake valves 

Safim is an Italy-based specialist of hydraulic brake controls for off-highway vehicles that has a reputation for innovation, proven by the high number of patents that the company holds. The company is part of the PT1 Project Team of CEMA (the European Agricultural Machinery Association) which is responsible for agricultural and forestry vehicles on roads and for safety regulations development.

Stefano Togninelli, Safim’s sales director, said that in recent years the company transitioned from a traditional family-owned company to a large corporation, having been acquired by DexKo Global. Safim is now part of the AL-Ko Hydraulic Business Unit (part of DexKo). “The Hydraulic BU is going to be further strengthened by the acquisition of Fluid-Press, an Italian manufacturer of valves and cartridges. The acquisition process is expected to be completed by end October 2022 and the revenues for the BU are forecasted to exceed €100 million in 2023” he added.

Brake valve production at Safim

Safim will introduce at bauma 2022 the new EH series of power brake valves - EH-S6O, EH-S6E, and EH-S6T. “For the development of this new series, we have looked at the improvement of key performance aspects: lower hysteresis, high performance repeatability, better accuracy on controls, and faster response time,” Togninelli said. “These products can be embedded on braking systems composed by ECUs, sensors and software which are compliant to most recent safety standard as per ISO25119 and ISO13849. For off-road vehicles with intelligent braking, Safim is capable to supply full hydraulic systems which can reach up to D safety performance level; our engineering department is working also to go to E level.”

The first two valves, EH-S6O and EH-S6E, have similar functions and both are power brake valves for off-road vehicles with brakes on the front and rear axles. The EH-S6O is a modular system suitable for positive brakes and completed by an electrohydraulic control. A position sensor is available as well and can be stacked to the main braking modules to configurate the all-hydraulic braking control in one unit. The S6E is a compact power brake valve suitable for one or two circuits design; it can have a dual electro-hydraulic and mechanical command or it might be piloted by a redundant electro-hydraulic module.

The EH-S6T is a twin design, dual circuit power brake valve used on agriculture tractors and backhoe loaders, which can embed electro-hydraulic command on each section for automatic braking.

But the main pillar of future strategies for Safim and a highlight at the bauma show, is the shift from being a hydraulic components producer to a system integrator and provider of machines guidance control systems.

“We want to deliver modular systems to control safety breaking operations which are suitable for high-performing machines but also low-performance, demanding vehicles,” said Togninelli. “Since no one is sure about the take rate of technology trends current on the market, it is important to be able to offer to our customers a range of solutions to meet their needs with no big impact in machine layout regardless of the selected configuration.”

Togninelli listed some examples of what the company is working on, which include: solutions for intelligent functions, up to full autonomous vehicles; hybrid braking featuring an electro-hydraulic control and double mechanical control with operator mechanical override command. “All these new technologies will help customers to develop machines’ intelligent functions such as speed control; hill holding; collision avoidance with object detection; traction control to reduce fuel consumption and wear of the transmission and tires; automatic brake assistance steering; and full brake-by-wire.”

There are some challenges with these new technologies, as for example the need for all systems to comply with the latest stringent safety standards. “Safim has started a new journey into Safety Failure Analysis which is the analytic approach to identify potential failures, effects, detection and diagnostic,” said Togninelli. “Failure modes, effects, and diagnostic analysis (FMEDA) is a systematic analysis tool to obtain subsystem/ product level failure rates, failure modes and diagnostic capability.”

Brake valve production at Safim

Another challenge with system development is the definition of the process for co-design with customers. “There are necessary steps to take, not limited to defining technical specifications. One key area to address for safety-related systems is defining the competence and liability perimeter.” Togninelli added that time to market is of the essence and for this reason Safim has enhanced its capabilities with simulation tools: “We want to offer a system which can be easily integrated in machines layout, providing an already validated package. In research & development we profit of the internal know-how but also source know-how outside in order to benefit of the latest technology development in automotive and on-road vehicles.”

Safim is well-established in applications such as construction, agriculture and lifting equipment. Other markets where the company is expanding are those with machinery working in confined areas where there is a need for an easy implementation of more sophisticated autonomous systems, such as mining, port machinery, and air ground support equipment.

Togninelli concluding by addressing a strategic pillar in the company’s development: “On top of the innovation pipeline, the future growth will come by strengthening the production site in India and with a more focused commercial action in the Chinese market supported by Al-Ko corporate local division.”

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