Innovating Electric PTOs for Idle Reduction
August 19, 2019

We were honored to attend the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference and Expo of 2019! Our head engineer, Neeraj Chirmulay gave a presentation on how Viatec’s electric PTO, SmartPTO is innovating idle reduction. Below is a synopsis of that talk.

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We’ve all seen it. The power company truck pulls up to a line in your neighborhood, the linemen hoist themselves up in the bucket, and then fix whatever problem is keeping the lights off. Some of us have possibly been a bit annoyed – this huge diesel truck outside of your house, at 8 am, idling its engine for hours on end. It’s something that we accept. It’s also something the industry has accepted for years now. In order to operate the truck equipment, the trucks engine has to keep running. So, what’s the answer? Hybridization.

There are two ways to electrically hybridize a vehicle. Either we improve efficiency while driving, or we eliminate idling, especially on a vehicle that utilizes its engine for powering auxiliary equipment. That all depends on the kind of truck. In this case, an electric power takeoff unit (ePTO) powers the hydraulics for the equipment on the utility truck.

Types of electric pto (ePTO)

The Electric PTO or ePTO’s have been implemented for over a decade, and in mostly two traditional ways. The first is when a hybrid system, originally designed to improve driving efficiency, is adapted to add ePTO functionality to a system. This is never a good fit because it involves taking a system that was designed for trucks that drive a lot, and making it work for trucks that don’t.

The second type is an electric PTO that is designed to be an ePTO, but is still deeply integrated, and tries to accomplish too many things at once. These usually have an automatic start/stop feature for the engine. They recharge batteries off of the engine as well. They are deeply integrated into the trucks electric systems.

The third and new way to electrify these systems is SmartPTO. The biggest difference is its modular nature. It is easily installed into existing hydraulic systems, even retrofitted on old trucks, and offers any of multiple additional features, like electrically running cab AC. Its common architecture allows for it to be implemented on almost any system and is configurable in different capacities like pump flow, or battery storage. Not to be confused with “One size fits all”. You don’t buy the same lawnmower for a 1000 sq. ft. lawn vs. a 1 acre lot – but essentially it’s still spinning blades that cut grass.

What is true Systems Engineering?

It isn’t just about “Off the shelf” components… Systems engineering is that intangible part that goes in between components and makes them work! Components don’t work without systems engineering – that is electrical architecture, control software, battery management etc. If everybody has access to the same components, they will still produce systems that are very different in usability, reliability, efficiency and so on.

SmartPTO is the next-gen electric PTO (ePTO). It uses a vetted electric powertrain, complete with its own battery management and controls software, that’s been tested and improved over a decade.

Any truck, Any device, Any hydraulic system – plug and play!

SmartPTO also has telematics that report back on performance and real savings, and enable remote support diagnostics and over-the-air software updates. All of this while being lighter, cheaper, and quieter.