Lord Corporation - which describes itself as the world's leading supplier of commercial Magnetorheological (MR) fluid, devices and systems – will showcase the use of advanced, controllable technologies to improve operator safety, ergonomics and comfort for agricultural machinery using Lord MR technology at the Agritechnica show, to be held from 13-17 November 2008 in Hanover, German.
The Agritechnica show will include a display of devices and systems using Lord Corporation's MR technology for off-highway, construction and agricultural equipment, as well as steer-by-wire operator control in industrial vehicles. Lord says that, as the only provider of commercial MR fluid, it holds more than 100 global device and fluid patents in the MR field, and more than 500,000 devices have been produced using its MR technology.
Jim Toscano, Global Marketing and Sales Manager for Lord MR Solutions, states: "Once a lab curiosity, our MR technology continues to find its way into new applications. Our MR technology enables engineers to design a wide range of devices and systems with far greater flexibility than before. The result is improved performance, reduced part count and complexity, smaller package size and less weight."
Lord MR technology is based on a proprietary patented fluid used in damper, mount, brake and clutch designs incorporating sophisticated computer control algorithms. When exposed to a magnetic field, the MR materials change state nearly instantaneously and with complete reversibility. As a result, MR technology provides fast and infinitely variable control of energy dissipation for automotive, industrial and military vehicles.
Unlike traditional passive suspensions with fixed characteristics, Lord Corporation's controllable MR suspensions react to vehicle and terrain conditions thousands of times per second, enabling the suspension to adapt its characteristics to the situation. This provides improved dynamic stability over passively damped systems, which can provide significant benefits including reduced risk of roll-over, improved manoeuvrability and safe driving speed, reduced occupant fatigue and equipment shock, as well as reduced wear and tear on suspension and drivetrain components (particularly in applications where the vehicle is loaded at or beyond the design gross vehicle weight).
According to Douglas F LeRoy, Market Manager for Lord MR Solutions, the development of common vehicle platforms, standardised communication protocols, and electronic controller and sensor integration across the entire vehicle will reduce the cost and complexity of implementing advanced seat, cab, and vehicle suspension systems. Another growing opportunity for MR is its application in commercial by-wire steering interface devices featuring force feedback. Interest in steer-by-wire systems by vehicle manufacturers has increased dramatically in recent years, with Lord experiencing a 105 per cent sales increase of steer-by-wire Tactile Feedback Devices (TFDs) in 2005 and 52 per cent in 2006. Current steer-by-wire applications include industrial fork lift trucks, earth moving machines, and high-performance watercraft. Steer-by-wire systems are expected to be used on a large variety of industrial and commercial vehicles, and eventually automobiles.
LeRoy says: "The development of these systems support the trend, as evidenced by Physical Agents Directive (PAD) regulations in Europe, toward reducing the shock and vibration doses that operators experience. We also see the off-highway market taking a leadership position in implementing safe by-wire systems. Removing a bulky steering column gives cab designers more options in creating a flexible and ergonomic operator environment."
MR also has been used for large vehicle cab suspensions. The speed and simplicity of MR technology enables the use of low-stiffness springs without compromising ride or stability. Not only can MR technology provide roll, isolation and pitch stability, but it can eliminate the need for a roll bar, which saves both weight and cost. Lord Corporation's MR damper systems have been developed with a modular, integrated approach that can include an air spring, automatic electronic levelling, sensors, controller and CANbus data communication. Lord Corporation has received commitments to commercialise MR technology in cab suspensions from two major European agricultural vehicle OEMs, and expects to be in production within the next nine months.
With headquarters in Cary, NC, USA, and sales in excess of $630million, Lord Corporation is a privately-held company that: designs, manufactures and markets devices and systems to manage mechanical motion and control noise and vibration; formulates, produces and sells general-purpose and speciality adhesives and coatings; and develops products and systems utilising magnetically responsive technologies.
With manufacturing in nine countries and offices in more than 15 major business centres, Lord Corporation employs more than 2400 people worldwide.