Recently, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced its plan to unveil the conceptual model for its “K-Axle” high-speed electric motor-pump unit, which is currently under development for use in construction machinery and industrial vehicles.
K-Axle comprises three main components: a variable-displacement hydraulic pump, a high-speed electric motor with a built-in inverter, and a dedicated controller to operate the other two components. In areas such as construction machinery and industrial vehicles, conventional diesel engines are being replaced with electric motors and batteries as part of electrification efforts, in response to environmental regulations aimed at realizing a low-carbon society. Just as with electric cars, there is demand for longer operation times per charge with electrically powered construction machinery and industrial vehicles, but this has proven difficult due to installation-space limitations and cost concerns for larger-capacity batteries.
Kawasaki has developed the K-Axle by applying its high-speed, high-rotation technologies—cultivated through development of its M7V series high-speed hydraulic motors—to a hydraulic pump, and combining it with a high-speed electric motor with a built-in inverter. As a result, the K-Axle has achieved a cubic volume approximately 50% smaller than existing electro-hydraulic pumps. Additionally, the company has achieved outstanding control performance to enable high-efficiency unit operations. Together, these advantages contribute to smaller sizes for construction machinery and industrial vehicles, longer operation times, and overall cost reductions.