Case Study: Providing Control for a First of its Kind Machine

Danfoss Power Solutions provides a look at how its technology was used to create remote control capabilities for Kovaco's fully-electric MiniZ.

Danfoss technology was utilized to enable remote control of Kovaco Electric's MiniZ, a fully-electric compact mini loader.
Danfoss technology was utilized to enable remote control of Kovaco Electric's MiniZ, a fully-electric compact mini loader.
Danfoss Power Solutions

European manufacturer Kovaco has a strong track record of developing products that push the limits of technology, efficiency and environmental performance. The company’s Kovaco Electric division provides sustainable solutions for the future, offering environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient products with high safety levels.

Spotting a gap in the construction market for a compact mini loader, Kovaco Electric decided to push technology and performance boundaries once again. The company has developed the fully-electric MiniZ model, which boasts increased safety thanks to remote-control functionality that Danfoss Power Solutions delivered, as well as zero-emissions.

Increasing safety while eliminating emissions

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, emissions from the construction industry reached their highest ever level in 2019. In Europe, greenhouse gas emissions from material extraction, manufacturing products and the construction and renovation of buildings are estimated at between 5-12% of national figures. Given that the sector provides 9% of the continent’s total gross domestic product, the broader adoption of emission-reducing technologies that can increase operational performance is crucial. CS100Cellular GatewayThe CS100 wireless gateway can be configured and managed to monitor, analyze and log telematics data.Danfoss Power Solutions

To address the need for more zero-emission construction products, Kovaco Electric decided to build a powerful yet 100% ecological compact mini loader. The company also wanted to create a product with high safety levels, so it chose to make the MiniZ remotely controlled from a distance so that operators wouldn’t be required to enter small, potentially dangerous areas.

Kovaco Electric is a customer of Danfoss Power Solutions’ local distribution partner Technotrade, which decided to create the remote control system for the MiniZ using Danfoss Power Solutions’ products that best met the company’s needs. Technotrade had previously selected the company’s components for Kovaco Electric’s Elise 900 fully-electric skid steer loader, so it was already aware of its product range and track record of turning ideas and prototypes into commercial products. For the MiniZ, Technotrade was given greater responsibility to provide complete system support, program the machine’s software and deliver local language support.

Changing how machines are controlled

The MiniZ is the first machine of its kind to be controlled remotely by a phone or tablet with telematics capabilities. Its compactness makes it the perfect product for small or difficult to reach interiors, with multiple applications in the construction, agriculture, landscaping, food processing and pharmaceutical sectors.

Modern advancements in technology have reshaped the way operators expect to control and interact with mini loaders remotely. The MiniZ is controlled via a Danfoss Power Solutions IK2 compact console box, part of the company’s Ikontrol range, enabling a 50 m (164 ft.) operating radius. The transmitter features a two-axis joystick, secondary controls and emergency stop functionality. Being able to control all machine functions remotely with the IK2 console enables better maneuverability. It also makes the MiniZ highly effective at performing demanding construction and demolition tasks, especially those that take place in a confined or dangerous space and require the operator to be located a safe distance away. 

The MiniZ also includes Danfoss Power Solutions’ CS100 plug and perform telematics solution. The CS100 wireless gateway is configured and managed by Technotrade via Danfoss Power Solutions’ PLUS+1 Connect portal, enabling Kovaco Electric to easily monitor, analyze and log telematics data relating to the machine’s condition and positioning, plus access key performance analytics in both real-time and retrospectively. In addition to being able to easily plan maintenance work, the CS100 telematics solution can also prevent the MiniZ from leaving a designated location without alerting Kovaco Electric team members.

Additionally, the MiniZ features a Danfoss PVG 16 proportional valve and Danfoss Power Solutions’ shhark low noise external gear pump.

IK3,IK4And IK2Remote ControlsThe IK2 console helps enable better maneuverability by allowing remote control of all machine functions.Danfoss Power Solutions

Connectivity unlocks benefits

The connectivity of the MiniZ provides companies with a multitude of benefits. Operators can track driving time to each driver’s daily hours of service, boosting overall fleet utilization. Kovaco Electric can also monitor the daily routines of each machine and optimize the performance of each vehicle accordingly.

Telematics data provides insights into fleet status and health, allows potential errors to be identified and fixed, and offers an increased service level for users. Security is also enhanced as a result of the connectivity the machine possesses.

Available globally

The MiniZ has attracted global interest, with Kovaco Electric already selling the machines to companies in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Technotrade is currently finalizing the programming of these machines in Danfoss Power Solutions’ PLUS+1 Connect portal, with over 70 of Kovaco Electric’s MiniZ and Elise 900 machines on the platform as it stands. The flexibility of the PLUS+1 platform, coupled with Technotrade’s extensive expertise in control software development, meant that Kovaco Electric was able to bring the fully-equipped and tested MiniZ to the market quicker than previous machines of its type.

Speaking about the MiniZ, Danfoss Power Solutions’ System Application Engineer Miroslav Bredschneider said, “Introducing new connectivity solutions enables OEMs to expand their business models and offer new products for end-users. Our work on this first of its kind machine highlights our focus on disruptive innovations that differentiate from conventional machines. The performance and ease-of-use of our products have built trust with Kovaco Electric, and we’re looking forward to working together on new products in the future.”

Jakub Kejduš, Managing Director at Technotrade, commented, “We’re always excited to work on projects as challenging and progressive as the MiniZ loader. When designing a complex system solution of mobile hydraulics and control software, we consider it a great advantage to leverage the versatility and reliability of Danfoss Power Solutions’ components and PLUS+1 platform. Our relationship with Danfoss Power Solutions allows us to offer innovative and sophisticated solutions that meet even the highest demands of our customers, helping them to develop and manufacture machines that boast high productivity and cost-effectiveness, plus offer comfortable and reliable operation.”

Peter Suchý, Managing Director from Kovaco Electric, added, “Integrating Danfoss Power Solutions’ PLUS+1 platform and its associated components in the MiniZ’s hydraulic and electronic systems unlocks intelligent control of the vehicle, with industry-leading hydraulic work functions and emission-free electric drive. The flexibility and compatibility of Danfoss Power Solutions’ products were a big part of the successful introduction of this surprisingly powerful yet very compact and easy to operate machine to the market.”

This article was written and contributed by Danfoss Power Solutions.