Holmatro Pentheon Series uses New Technology: Stepless Speed Maximization

30 Jun 2020

Pentheon series

Holmatro recently launched its new Pentheon Series of cordless rescue tools. The series is designed around revolutionary, integrated hydraulic-pump technology. Patented by Holmatro, this new technology offers stepless speed maximization. This means that the engine and pump settings are optimized by a mechatronic system in order to deliver maximized oil flow over the full pressure range. How do these mechatronics result in rescue tools that work faster than any you have ever experienced? In this blog, I will try to explain just how that came about.

Mechatronic Control of Pentheon Tools

Mechatronics is defined as a technology that combines electronic and mechanical engineering. In the case of Pentheon tools, electronics control a mechanical rescue pump. What does this mean for you as the end user? Maximum speed and maximum pressure, when you need them. Let me explain.

Rescue Pump: The History 

Holmatro's roots lie in industry. Using our experience from industrial applications, Holmatro's first rescue pumps had just one stage (or phase), i.e. only one oil flow, and one speed. Due to feedback from the rescue market that speed is a key factor in freeing victims, we continued to develop this rescue pump. Naturally, our aim was to have rescue operations proceed more quickly, to the benefit of the victim. This development resulted in two-stage pumps and, more recently, in three-stage pumps. These rescue pumps use multiple oil channels and changeover valves to be able to switch from a situation of large oil flow / low working pressure to one of narrow oil flow / high working pressure. And just to be clear: The greater the oil flow of the pump that powers the tool, the greater the tool's speed.

Compare It With Bicycle Gears

Let's compare the rescue pumps with riding a bicycle that has three speeds. Climbing a steep grade is very difficult if you can only choose from among three gears. The chance is great that all three gears are either too heavy or too light, because there is quite a difference among them. A bike with 21 gears, however, will make the climb much easier because there are multiple suitable gears from which to choose. The same principle holds for all rescue pumps, whether they are separate or integrated into the (battery-powered) rescue equipment. With a three-stage pump you usually see less decline in speed than with a two-stage pump. In other words: The more stages a pump has, the less speed you lose as soon as the working pressure increases in order to have the tool deliver more power.

Cycling uphill
The more gears you have, the smaller the loss in speed if you have to deliver more power.

Then We Should Just Add Stages, Right?

In theory, it is indeed a matter of adding stages. This ensures that the rescue pump will deliver the ideal oil flow and working pressure needed at each moment of an extrication, and that the rescue tools will always provide an optimal balance of speed and power. But this has one major disadvantage: adding stages necessitates a larger pump with more changeover valves, which results in more weight. And more weight is precisely what you don't want in the already somewhat heavier cordless rescue equipment. To ensure that the tool's weight doesn't increase and the tool continues to deliver the ideal oil flow (speed) and working pressure (power), Holmatro has developed a new mechatronic control system.

Pentheon Mechatronic Pump System: No Changeover Valves Needed

Just like an automatic transmission in a car, the rescue pump in Holmatro's Pentheon tools uses electronics to determine the best pressure and oil flow at any moment.  This system continuously detects what the tool requires, then switches (shifts) automatically to be able to offer the best power and speed, just as you do when cycling up and down hills. When more pressure (or power) is required, the pump changes phases and switches smoothly to another stage to satisfy the new need. To compensate for the decline in speed, the engine will run faster. This principle provides a much more fluid curve in the speed vs. pressure graph, as you can see below. Incidentally, this automatic switch occurs much more efficiently, which saves even more time.  

Holmatro Pentheon speed curve.JPG

The mechatronic pump system inside Pentheon tools provides for a big speed gain compared to other rescue tools.

Steplessly Cutting a B-pillar

If we consider, for example, the cutting of a B-pillar, we know that the various layers of material contain advanced, high-strength steels. While you are cutting through the B-pillar, there are moments when the cutter requires more power (i.e., a higher working pressure). At other times, the tool is able to work even faster because less pressure is needed. The pump used in the Pentheon series of rescue tools switches automatically – in a smooth, stepless manner – among the pump's five stages so you can complete the cutting faster and can continue on to your next task. As already mentioned, the loss of speed when switching is largely compensated by the engine, which will then run faster. All of this serves a single goal, of course: The faster you can execute your tasks, the better that will be for the victim.

Speed comparison test: Where all other rescue tools show a significant decrease in speed when switching to another stage to deal with higher loads, Holmatro Pentheon tools stick to the ideal stepless speed curve.

Better Performance, No Increase in Weight

The new design of the pump, based on mechatronic control, that is used in Pentheon tools results in a lower weight and smaller dimensions. As stated earlier, the pump has no changeover valves like those found in other pumps. If it did, with the five stages (two to three extra) in this pump, that would mean four changeover valves plus the material of the modules in which these are located. That would make the pump larger and heavier. Holmatro's mechatronic drive eliminates this problem entirely, while providing better and faster performance. Moreover, mechatronics uses much less energy from the tool's battery than traditional changeover modules do – an additional benefit! 

Holmatro Pentheon tools compact integrated motor and pump
The compact integrated motor and pump design in Holmatro Pentheon tools does not contain the relatively large and heavy changeover modules you will find in other rescue equipment. These are replaced by electronics, which also use less battery capacity.

The energy efficiency of Pentheon tools will be addressed in next month's blog, in which we will discuss Holmatro's new battery system.

Dan Crowbridge
Holmatro Rescue Consultant

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