How It Works: The Genie® FE Hybrid Technology
Power systems for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) continue to evolve, just like the machines they drive. As technology has advanced so have engine options and designs. Increasingly stringent emissions regulations have mostly shelved simple, mechanical engine designs in favor of equipping MEWPs with engine technology that reduces a machine’s emissions. Another approach to meeting these regulations is to utilize a hybrid powertrain — a well designed hybrid powertrain results in a more efficient and intelligent machine that can be just as simple to operate and service as traditional machine, while also adding additional performance and versatility. These features and benefits have created an increasing demand globally for robust hybrid solutions.
The Need for Hybrids
Hybrid models were initially demanded for specialty applications — these applications may have required more flexibility to operate both indoors and outdoors on unique jobsites. Also, jobsites requiring low-noise machines (such as night-time construction) or low-emission machines (city centers, low emission zones, etc.) benefitted from using hybrid models.
While hybrid machines are still uniquely capable for these types of jobs, increasingly hybrid machines are being rented or used in place of a standard diesel-powered machine now as well. The latest hybrid technology has addressed many of the historical limitations of these machines to make them suited for nearly any jobsite.
Summary of Hybrid Technology
The idea and purpose of hybrid machines have not really changed since their introduction, but the execution of these machines has evolved significantly along with the technology that powers them. Hybrid MEWPs employ a combination of two different power sources — in most cases, a small diesel engine with generator and battery power.
Because increasingly hybrid machines are being substituted into jobs where a large diesel or a pure electric machine might have been used in the past, this flexibility is what makes these machines so attractive. MEWPs powered by hybrid engines can stay out on rent longer to improve the machines rROIC (rental return on invested capital). These machines also offer the flexibility to be dropped onto an unimproved jobsite before a structure is built, then with the flick of a switch to electric, or DC, mode, move indoors for finish work.
These units significantly increase rental flexibility and boost machine utilization by offering the same productive operation as a diesel rough terrain unit, with the added benefit of offering extended operating intervals indoors under battery power.
A Revolutionary Approach
Recent hybrid models, like Genie® Z®-60 FE and Z-45 FE booms, are based on next generation hybrid technology which makes these machines more versatile and more capable than their predecessors.
FE — fuel electric — indicates to operators that these machines can work on indoor projects under DC, or electric, battery power. And by switching to “hybrid” mode, this same boom performs as well as, if not better than diesel-only articulated booms on outdoor projects, while seamlessly charging the batteries via an onboard generator.
How It Works
While in DC electric mode, the motor generator on a Genie FE boom is powered by the machine’s batteries and drives its hydraulic pumps. The flow of the pumps is controlled by sophisticated valving which provides just enough pressure and flow to perform the functions without wasting any energy. In this mode, the batteries also provide the energy for the AC electric drive motors to propel the machine with zero tailpipe emissions and zero noise.
Utilizing the full capability of FE technology, when in hybrid mode, the diesel engine is used to drive the motor generator through a clutch to provide electrical power to the drive motors, recharge the batteries, and simultaneously drive the hydraulic pump directly. This allows normal machine operations, even while the batteries are recharging. As soon as the batteries are charged, the diesel engine stops, and the machine operates electrically until another charge is needed. And even on “dead” batteries, the FE technology can provide enough power for rough terrain performance.
The FE Advantage
With so many different types of hybrid options available in today’s market, it’s important to note that there are two true differences of FE hybrid technology compared to other methods. First, the FE system provides enough power output to operate the machine normally, regardless of the charge of the batteries. And second, Genie MEWPs equipped with FE technology can swapped out for an all-electric machine working in indoor applications, as well as a diesel machine working in outdoor, rough terrain applications. Some competitors have one or the other of those advantages but only FE has both — increasing the machine’s versatility and utilization.
To learn more about Genie FE technology, please view a short “How It Works” video presentation:
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