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2010 Volume 1 Issue 3
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[Manufacturers Evaluate Technology for Improving Efficiency . . . cont]

Some new innovation or technology undergoing testing at the Merlo facility in Cuneo,  Italy.

Some new innovation or technology undergoing testing at the Merlo facility in Cuneo, Italy.



Merlo readily embraces new technology

If one company is going to embrace new technology and deliver innovative and well engineered products it is the Italian company Merlo.

During a recent visit to Cuneo, in northern Italy, Contractors World took a look at the company’s facilities and discussed with Maurizio Ganio-Mego, Director, Export Sales, just where Merlo is heading.

Always inquisitive, and with an eye on the future developments, the company's founder Amilcare Merlo also intervened to add his comments during the conversations.

It was soon obvious that Merlo is well advanced in evaluating its latest customer aid. Merlomobility is a new computerised system for fleet management that shows real-time location of several vehicles using GPS technology and cell-phone networks.

The system makes it possible to monitor important information on vehicle parameters as well as receiving and processing alarm calls.

Undergoing evaluation in Italy, the system combines GPS, GSM/GPRS/UMTS telephone networks, WiFi and the Internet to provide a fully integrated system that does not require installation of any complex software or extensive user training. It readily interfaces with existing data-processing software such as Microsoft Excel. The data can even be read on small devices such as a PDA.

Being able to monitor equipment to such an extent has many obvious benefits to utility companies, local government and plant hire companies. In Italy, the system is already being used to manage and monitor vehicles used for refuse collection and for street cleaning.

Merlo is not only investing in peripheral use of technology but is also looking to implement it in the new products under development. One example of this is the company’s EcoPowerDrive system. This is an innovative electronic control system that manages both a machine's’ hydrostatic transmission and the diesel engine.

Simultaneously management enables full optimization of energy generation to improved operating efficiency, lower sound levels and, potentially, lower service costs.
Thirty percent fuel saving

At a time when diesel costs are at record height in most parts of the world, any contribution to reducing this saving fuel will be most welcome. Merlo claim that its EcoPowerDrive (EPD) system can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30% - that amounts to two day fuel saving in a six-day week. External noise is reduced by up to 2.5 dB(A), selected travel speed is more easily maintained and maximum tractive force is available, even when the engine is idling, for safer operation on steep gradients.
Merlo admits that the system does have some disadvantages but these are more than offset by the benefits.

The management system uses complex algorithms to determine the best engine speed and the hydrostatic ratio. The driver defines the required travel speed via the accelerator pedal, the management system does the rest.

The EcoPowerDrive system from Merlo provides optimum power between the engine and hydrostatic drive for smooth, effortless travel - even on steep gradients.However, as the travel speed is not fixed, but depends on load, it is necessary to accelerate the engine to almost full speed in order to get maximum thrust such as when used as a loader. The EPD system, by reducing fuel consumption, also means lower emissions as the engine is working less. There is also said to be a noticeable improvement in manoeuvrability and precision working.

Using one of three modes - Fine, ECO or Full - the operator can set a basic parameter for the EPD to use. With proper instructions, operators can be made aware of the benefits of selecting the appropriate mode. Unfortunately, if mode selection in hire industry hydraulic excavators is any indication, operators invariably leave the selection in High or Heavy duty mode.

The EcoPowerDrive system from Merlo provides optimum power between the engine and hydrostatic drive for smooth, effortless travel - even on steep gradients.




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