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Dynamic machine control:

Designing a load-sensing system

Designing for smart load-sensing:

Practical considerations
Though hydraulic systems Load-sensing is more than pre-compensation and is cost-effective across a range of horsepower.
have used load-sensing for Designing for load-sensing becomes tricky with multiple demands on a hydraulic supply. Users typically
must choose between valves that support pre-compensation or post-compensation. Under pump-
some time, misconceptions saturation conditions, pre-compensation meters out oil to the lowest induced pressure-load first,
have placed load-sensing out according to predetermined parameters. The result is a loss of function on higher induced-pressure loads
until flow is regained. Post-compensation under pump-saturation conditions decreases oil to all functions
of reach of many applications proportionally, resulting in a reduced speed of performance, but no loss in function.
which would benefit from How does one design a load-sensing system that prioritizes control under pump saturation conditions?
power on demand. We dispel
Why load-sensing? so there was little incentive Typical load-sense choices
misconceptions and provide for load-sensing for engines
Every industry searches for Load-sensing helps make a
key questions for designing ways to cut fuel costs while below 100HP. But today, with motor more efficient—but
maintaining the power needed to increasing cost for fuels and there are trade-offs. Typical
smart load-sensing systems increased pressure to get the
accomplish their tasks. Running load-sensing systems deal with
that allow you to effectively hydraulic motors is no different most work from every stroke, saturation conditions by using
and load-sensing has been a new tools have emerged to pre-compensation or post-
balance efficiency and power. help improve efficiency across a
key answer to that question. compensation (Figure 1).
Running motors at lower RPM wider range of engines.
By Rodney Erickson, Robin Ireton and • Pre-compensation: When
conserves in fuel costs, among the pump is saturated,
Rodney Sutterfield other benefits. Any pressure not What Is load-sensing?
pre-compensation routes
used by an actuator is wasted, Load sensing provides the right upstream oil (from the pump)
so manufacturers have great amount of power to a hydraulic to a primary, priority function
interest in gaining efficiencies system when that power is (lowest induced pressure-load)
wherever they can. Selecting needed. Just like changing the so control remains dependably
and prioritizing the timing of idle setting on an automobile: intact. Other functions that use
that reduced RPM is critical- Set idle too low and you cannot the system may experience
and difficult. speed away when the traffic a ceasing of function or loss
In the past there was a light turns green. Set idle too of control (higher induced
generally-accepted limit of high and you may speed away pressure-loads).
100HP for improving efficiency, easily, but your engine will
always be running fast and fuel • Post-compensation: When
consumption will be higher. The the pump is saturated,
best idle is something between post-compensation reduces
too-low and too-high. downstream pressure (from
the pump) to all the functions
Load-sensing works by sensing in the system. The result can
the load-induced pressure be a slowing or reduced speed
downstream at the actuator of performance, but no loss
and communicating to the in function.
upstream orifice to increase
or decrease pressure, which
in turn optimizes the pressure
drop across the spool for
maximum efficiency and
minimizes energy loss.
Typical load-sense choices have not allowed for setting priorities • How far is the pump from the valve? ________________
for functions using the system. Most hydraulic valves enforce a • Length of load sense line (from valve to pump): _______________
binary choice, since most hydraulic valves are equipped with either (If longer then XX, bump press by XX bar)
pre-compensation or post-compensation.
• Desired speed of spin: _________________
Post compensated LS signal Dump valve
• Does the system require any special features, like feedback,
LS signal MRV
system for instance?
A1 B1 A2 B2 A3 B3 A4 B4
• What is the duty cycle (will they all be used at the same time or
at different times)?
T1 (drain line)
• Will flow requirements apply to more than one pump?

Questions for designing smart load-sensing

Smart load-sensing uses downstream pressure (from the load) to
P inform upstream pressure—but that information commands both the
L.S. Pump compensator Internal press. reducing valve pre- and post-compensation. This unique arrangement, available only
Post local compensator on Eaton valves, allows for priority flow-sharing.
Pre compensated Pump compensator
After dealing with the general hydraulic design considerations listed
Pre-compensated section
system LS signal MRV
above, a few specific considerations get directly at the opportunities
A1 B1 A2 B2 A3 B3 A4 B4
T inherent in smart load-sensing.

T1 (drain line) Open-center or closed-center?

When it comes to the smart load-sensing design-specifics, the first
question is how your hydraulic system handles neutral or 0 demand.
Open-center systems deal with reduced demand by sending excess
oil (at pressure) into the reservoir. Closed-center systems deal with
P reduced demand by blocking the flow of the pump and commanding
L.S. Internal press. reducing valve the variable displacement pump to duct production of flow.
Full flow dump valve
Pre local compensator
Post local compensator
Flow-sharing or priority-only—or a combination?
Figure 1. Eaton CLS100 Load Sense Sectional Mobile Valves E-VLVM-CC001-E1
Flow-sharing (post-compensation) helps ensure no vital functions
The Eaton CLS Load Sense Sectional Mobile Valves can be are left without control. But in some cases priority sharing
configured with both pre- and post-compensation, which allows (pre-compensation) may be enough to accomplish your purpose. In
flow-sharing and priority-sharing, resulting in hydraulic functions your hydraulic design be sure to take into account those functions.
that remain uncompromised under saturation conditions. Combining
flow-sharing (post-comp) with priority sharing (pre-comp) allows you Secondary load-sense design questions
to maintain priority flow to the function of choice by assigning a After determining open- or close-center and whether priority flow-
pre-compensation section to that function while all other functions sharing is needed, the design process follows the more general
get post-compensation. hydraulic design process:
Establish general hydraulic design parameters • Does the system require:
• Port relief?
Pursuing load-sensing will always start with the general questions
facing any hydraulic system project. What loads will your system lift? • Anti-cavitation valves?
Does your system require more efficiency or more torque? A typical • Number and types of functions/actuation required?
checklist may look something like this:
• Pressure capabilities should match with the valve types
• Pressure requirement: _______
• Flow rates per section?
• Flow requirement: __________
• Kind of command signal used?
• Number of actuators required: __________
• Need hydraulic remote control?
Actuator Pressure Flow
• Need electro-proportional control?
1 • Need manual actuation?
2 Other design questions will certainly also apply
Smart load-sensing balances efficiency and power
The Eaton CLS Load Sense Sectional Mobile Valve is able to
5 accommodate an open- or closed-center system. And whether you
6 need the full effect of flow-sharing, priority sharing or priority flow
7 sharing, the CLS valve can accommodate each of those situations.
By providing for pre- and post-compensation in a single valve, plus
the ability to configure and control with Eaton’s Pro-FX® technology,
the CLS valve looks like the smart choice and the most versatile
• Could application benefit from Pre-comp, Post-comp or both? choice for whatever application you are designing for.
Learn more about the Eaton CLS Valve at

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