Open letter to the machinery contracting marketPublished 2/12, 2020 at 15:11
You have probably noticed the adverts and articles in the trade press and on social media about the launch of Open-S for fully automatic quick coupler systems for excavators.
Open-S – The emperor's new clothes?
You have probably noticed the adverts and articles in the trade press and on social media about the launch of Open-S for fully automatic quick coupler systems for excavators. What is this all about you ask yourself? In short, it is the emperor's new clothes - with borrowed feathers. Both tiltrotator manufacturers, Rototilt and Steelwrist, have the ambition to create an open world standard for fully automatic quick couplers based on the S-standard for symmetrical frame couplers established by the Swedish trade association for suppliers of mobile machines.
What is a world standard?
To achieve an international standard, across Europe to begin with, requires an established standardised product solution, a wide consensus and acceptance in the machinery industry, as well as an approval process in the European Committee for Standardisation, CEN. None of which is in place, as I understand it.
Open-S is a company standard for Steelwrist and Rototilt
It also gives the appearance of Open-S being an established part of the Swedish independent S-standard for symmetrical frame couplers which was introduced twenty years ago, on my initiative, under the auspices of the machine suppliers. This Nordic de-facto S-standard regulates, as it is well known, the interface between S-couplers and mechanical attachments. There are now a number of fully automatic company solutions based on the S-standard: OilQuick's OQ system, Engcon's EC-Oil, German Kinshofer and Lehnhoff's variants and most recently Steelwrist and Rototilt with their OilQuick like solutions. I have noted with great interest that even the world's leading manufacturer of tiltrotators, Engcon, also says no to Open-S. When it comes to Steelwrist and Rototilt, their fully automatic solutions are very much a matter of ‘borrowed feathers’. It is important to note that Open-S is only a company standard for Rototilt and Steelwrist, and can be compared with OilQuick's partner program ‘Clean Systems’, even if Open-S has been placed in an independent organisation to give it more legitimacy.
OilQuick is not against standards
I want to be very clear that we at OilQuick are not against standardisation to simplify and make things easier for equipment dealers and users, but we see great danger and huge problems in the current situation with this so called standardisation and the subsequent mixing of products and suppliers.
Lack of compatibility between different systems
I think that it is very difficult to get an open standard with many different suppliers of couplers and attachments, as well as a free mix of products, to work fully without problems, especially if product changes and policy decisions are to be taken in an independent organisation consisting of competitors. After having done this for over thirty years and having sold more than 33,000 OilQuick systems globally, we at OilQuick have long experience of this problem. Managing a mechanical system with mixed suppliers is generally OK. A loose bucket or attachment caused by poor quality and fit may last for several months, maybe even years, but if a fully automatic system fails or leaks oil it must be remedied more or less immediately. Two completely different worlds. My father John always said that you do not know who you are dealing with until you have to deal with them about a complaint. Who do I call in the event of a problem and have a mix of fully automatic couplers and attachments from different suppliers?
Different electrical and oil connection configurations
Different applications and system solutions require different electrical and oil connection configurations. Several different suppliers require a clear standardisation of how electrical, grease and oil connections are used. Standardisation is desirable but not always possible to achieve without making too many compromises and concessions. I see many obstacles when it comes to agreeing on this. Product knowledge, advice and system overview will be even more important in the future.
Huge safety risks with mixed systems
Safety is very important when it comes to using quick coupler systems on excavators, especially on fully automatic quick coupler systems in combination with tiltrotators where a number of mechanical and hydraulic attachments can be changed 50-100 times per working day. Mixing couplers, attachment adapters and control systems from different suppliers then creates uncertainty and poses a large unchecked risk of accidents. Many manufacturers currently use sensors to monitor their attachment locks. Poor quality, poor fit and incorrect tolerances in the system can then have catastrophic consequences. The same applies to electrical contacts and their different uses. We do not believe that mixed systems are the solution to these obstacles.
Responsibility and system support
It is difficult to have clear and unambiguous system responsibility with a lot of different companies involved. We believe in clear and defined system responsibility which allows good system advice, as well as fast and painless handling of warranties and malfunctions (meaning) one company that takes full system responsibility. We believe in homogeneous coupler systems and one system supplier that takes full system responsibility.
Founder and chairman of OilQuick AB