What’s new in fully automatic quick coupling systems?Published 6/3 at 10:02
Here’s the latest news in terms of fully automatic quick coupling systems for hydraulic excavator attachments.
Efficiency, safety and the environment continue to be the major focus when it comes to handling demolition materials. Since the first quick coupling systems for hydraulic tools were launched in the early 1990s, the working day has been revolutionised for the machine contractor, with demolition contractors being fast to adopt quick connect systems. In Europe, for example, you can hardly find a demolition contractor who does not use hydraulic quick couplings to efficiently change their tools on the jobsite without having to leave the cab. As usual, PDi presents the latest news in this sector in its first issue of the year.
For a few years now, Arden Equipment has been very active in developing and manufacturing different types of quick couplers for a range of different applications. Arden has released the QA H Series 3 which has been designed specifically to increase the safety of the operator and others in the workplace. The Arden quick hitch system - ‘QA’ - enables and simplifies the quick change of different attachments on a hydraulic excavator. These self-locking quick couplers fit all excavators from 0. 8t to 12t and meet all current safety standards, with the QA05H and QA Series 3 being equipped with a safety pad on the front axle.
Arden says that advantages of its system are the dimensions and its compactness. It is compatible with reversible buckets and is equipped with lifting eyes. In terms of safety on the hydraulic QA coupler, the safety paddle serves as a locking indicator. Quick Arden (QA) Series 3 are also available with different options including integrated tongue hooks. The QA 05 H has a single effect hydraulic line and QA 13 H to QA 23 H has a double acting hydraulic line
The manufacturer that the industry historically associates with hydraulic quick coupling systems is, of course, OilQuick. The company continues to impress and holds the market in an iron grip continuing to launch innovations. In 2022, it launched five developments that improve work for contractors working in demolition, recycling and scrap handling. Some of its developments are featured below.
New OQTR-E09 tilt rotator
With the new OQTR-E09, the smallest in OilQuick’s range, the manufacturer covers tilt rotators for excavators ranging from 6t to 33t. OilQuick tilt rotators are said to automatically increase flexibility and efficiency. With the OQTR-E09 tilt rotator equipped with OilQuick ‘sandwich’ solution, the operator can tilt, rotate, and change the tilt rotator to a bucket or other hydraulic, electrical or mechanical attachments under the tilt. This provides improved digging capacity, breaking force and function, and aims to ensure that the right attachment is used. The new tilt rotator is prepared for an OilQuick OQ45 quick coupler system and is designed to be ideal for smaller machines.
The new 17 pin electrical connector
The increased demands on electrical cable glands in connection with proportionally controlled control systems for tilt rotators, machine control systems and other electrical functions have meant that, in many cases, two 10 pole electrical connections must be used. OilQuick’s new V90/17 with a total of 17 poles can handle all this with just one electrical connector. The electrical connector can be retrofitted to older ‘OQ’ couplers and attachment sections. V90/17 is a robust 17 pole vertically connected electrical connector especially developed for use with OilQuick’s fully automatic quick couplers and attachment sections. This replaces the previous 10 pole V90 connector.
The connection is stable and secure due to the homogeneous pins in the female coupling providing safe contact and function, being particularly suitable for CANbus traffic with weaker control currents. The pins have a larger contact surface and stronger springs provide increased contact. There are also two CANbus channels through the electrical connection that ensure that the control traffic to the tilt rotator can be kept separate from external CANbus traffic with machine control systems etc.
Other advantages are that V90/17 can withstand higher current strengths - 5A per pole and a total of 30A across the entire connector. The electrical connection is sealed against humidity and moisture when connected, and there are also fixed coupling holders on the attachment side which means there is no more need for the addition of shims in the male connector. The male part is available with connectors suitable for all machine control systems such as Leica, Trimble and Topcon etc.
OilQuick Americas starts US production during 2022
OilQuick USA, an Exodus Global company, and OilQuick AB announced a joint venture to manufacture OilQuick's automatic quick coupler systems on site in the USA. The new company is named OilQuick Americas, (OQ Americas) and will serve both the North and South American markets. OQ Americas is currently investing in new premises and state of the art manufacturing in Superior, Wisconsin. “This joint venture increases our manufacturing capacity significantly to meet the exponential growth in demand. After working with Åke and Henrik Sonerud for six years, it was an easy decision to go into this exciting project. Their attitude to business, commitment to quality and the respect they show their employees and customers fit perfectly with Exodus Global,” says Exodus Global CEO Kevin Boreen.
“The team at Exodus Global is a perfect match for us, having the very same view of business, quality, and support for our customers. We are very happy to start this new journey with them. This is also a necessary step for us in our global expansion, by doing this we release capacity for our growth in Europe and Asia, but more importantly we improve support for our customers in North America by shortening delivery times and increasing flexibility,” says OilQuick CEO Henrik Sonerud.
“The market for automatic quick couplings in North America is accelerating every day. This investment gives OQ Americas the unique ability to serve our customers with local manufacturing on the North American continent. With +45,000 quick coupler systems installed worldwide, no competitor comes even close to the reliability of OilQuick's products,” adds Boreen. Production in Wisconsin, USA will be up and running by the beginning of 2023.
Sweden’s Best Industry – third year in a row for OilQuick
Worthy of note is the fact that for the third year in a row, OilQuick has been named Sweden's Best Industry. And for the fourth year in a row, OilQuick manages to get on the list of Sweden's 25 Best Workplaces in the medium sized companies 50-250 employees class. That OilQuick, which is an industrial company, is included in this list is unusual. Other positions on the list are dominated by consulting companies. The awards are presented by the organisation Great Place To Work, which carries out the world's largest workplace study and awards quality awards to the very best in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Success at bauma 2022
At the end of October 2022, bauma Munich was finally held having being postponed due to Covid. For OilQuick it was a big success. OilQuick focused promoting its tilt rotator series and the response from stand visitors was said to be ‘amazing’. In addition to what was displayed at its stand, 280 OilQuick quick couplers were mounted on different machines around the show.
More news to come in 2023
During 2023 OilQuick will release its largest suspended quick coupler, OQC90. There will be more on this at a later date. In addition, an updated touch display and interface for ‘OQLS’ will be released in 2023. This is an advanced, user friendly electronical driver support for safe and secure attachment switching on excavators. Also in 2023, OilQuick will release a new slim touchscreen and a new digital interface. This simplifies managing attachment swaps when using a tilt rotator, which enables the operator to control both machine and tilt couplings from the same display. OQLS has been designed to be user friendly and offers a clear coupling process via the intuitive touch display. There is a sensor detection of attachment pins and locking plungers. It provides an automatic activation of the machine's hydraulics and fulfils all safety requirements on the market. Besides this, OilQuick promise that there will be more news later on in 2023.
Steelwrist’s and Rototilt’s Open-S standard
Today there are quite a number of manufacturers of quick coupling systems, but Sweden should still be considered the Mecca for such equipment, with OilQuick, Rototilt, Steelwrist and Engcon, all being from Sweden. Steelwrist and Rototilt have a close working relationship and this resulted in the Open-S alliance, which received the Innovation Award at the Swedish Demolition Awards Ceremony in November last year. The idea with the Open-S alliance is to strive to give machine operators and contractors around the world the freedom to combine quick couplers, tilt rotators and work tools from different manufacturers that follow the standard. With a common standard it is easier for industry manufacturers to continue competing with performance and functionality, and still offer customers’ compatibility. The standard also means that dealers can provide clearer information about which products fit together. Steelwrist’s fully automatic ‘SQ’ quick coupler and Rototilt’s ‘QuickChange’ systems are designed to be able to connect to other brands following the Open-S standard.
In May last year Steelwrist launched the new range of SQ50 quick couplers and tilt rotators. The new range is targeted toward 7t to 13t excavators. Steelwrist ‘SQ’ is used in quick couplers and tilt rotators on excavators to connect hydraulic work tools. The company says that it provides outstanding flow characteristics and meets the specifications of the Open-S standard for fully automatic quick couplers.
The SQ50 quick couplers and tilt rotators were shown at the Vei and Anlegg fair in Norway on 11-14 May, 2022. The SQ50 will be phased in on X12 and X14 tilt rotators which means that future S-type quick couplers and tilt rotators will be upgradeable to SQ type.
S50 and SQ50 quick couplers are steel cast and have the Steel wrist ‘Front Pin Lock’ safety solution. This is a mechanical lock of the front shaft which significantly limits the risk of an unintended drop of work tools. The X12 and X14 tilt rotators are redesigned with a new top and attachment coupler in order to make it possible to upgrade from S50 to SQ50 at a later stage, even if the customer did not include SQ in the initial order.
An SQ on the top side (upper coupler) of the tilt rotator for rapid change between tilt rotator and other work tools, and SQ on the bottom side (attachment coupler) of the tilt rotator will allow for rapid change between hydraulic work tools. By using SQ, tilt rotator work tools can be made less expensive as the rotation function is included in the tilt rotator. “With the introduction of SQ50 fully automatic quick couplers and tilt rotators, we will change the game in the growing 10t excavator segment with flow capacities of 120l/min with low back pressure. This allows for efficient use of high flow work tools also for mid-size excavators,” says Stefan Stockhaus, CEO of Steelwrist AB.
High flow hydraulics and rotation sensor
With the introduction of SQ50, ‘Qplus’ technology has been updated to allow for even higher flows, reportedly adding another 20% to flow capacity which allows users to run the high flow for work tools on mid-size excavators. With the introduction of SQ50, Steelwrist during 2022 also introduced a new ‘Absolute Rotation Sensor’ in order to give higher accuracy to machine control systems. In October 2021 Steelwrist added SQ90 to the range of automatic quick couplers, something that already been covered in PDi.
Rototilt did not launch any new quick coupler models during 2022, but there is other news. Rototilt has launched the new ‘Rototilt Control’ product concept at bauma in Munich, promising better operability, improved energy efficiency and new technology in a cohesive system. The company has kept one of its new products under the radar to date, but the details of the new RC joysticks have now been revealed. “RC Joysticks have been designed to meet our high standards as regards function and quality. We consider it only natural to be able to deliver a complete system of tilt rotators and control systems from the same manufacturer, to satisfy the industry’s high demands in respect of safety and CE marking,” says Caroline Jonsson, product manager.
Through field tests involving both male and female machine operators, as well as close collaboration with leading product designers in this area, Rototilt’s objective has been to develop handles that are suitable for a wide range of hand sizes without compromising on fit. Thanks to a digital keypad, they also provide scope for future adaptations in relation to the machine. According to Caroline, the things that users will notice most clearly are the patented angle adjustment and the palm rest.
Rototilt has also now inaugurated its newly built distribution centre in Rosersberg, strategically located outside Arlanda Airport, north of Stockholm. The investment means shorter lead times, greater flexibility and availability. Orders placed at 4pm can be delivered the next day in the Nordics. “This is a long term investment in our aftermarket that is about offering the best possible service to our customers. We know how important it is to be able to keep our machines running,” says Jan Karlsson, aftermarket manager.
And that is about it in terms of news form the global fully automatic quick coupler sector for this time.