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Title:
IMPROVED HYDRAULIC CONNECTION ASSEMBLY WITH ELECTRO-ACTUATED CARTRIDGES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/208480
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a hydraulic connection assembly for the connection of hydraulic lines of pressurized fluids which is characterized in that it comprises electro- actuated cartridges. More specifically, the hydraulic assembly according to the present invention comprises a manifold (1) which houses, in corresponding seats, a plurality of female cartridges (2,3), and further comprises actuation means (4) of the cartridges configured for selectively decompressing the hydraulic lines (20,30) and connecting/disconnecting said cartridges (2,3) to/from corresponding male couplers provided on the utilizer apparatus to be hydraulically connected to said assembly (10). It is characterized in that it comprises electro -actuated actuators (11) for actuating said actuation means (4) of the cartridges for decompressing the hydraulic lines (20,30) and for connecting/disconnecting said cartridges (2,3). The electro-actuated actuators (11) can comprise an actuator controlled by an electromechanical system or by an electronic control system. The possible use of an electronic control system allows additional control and interface systems to be integrated, such as, for example, proximity sensors and RFID recognition systems, to recognize the approach of the rapid coupling counterpart, and univocally define the identity of the coupling and the equipment to which it is connected.

Inventors:
RUSCONI PAOLO (IT)
ARRIGONI RICCARDO (IT)
Application Number:
IB2020/053090
Publication Date:
October 15, 2020
Filing Date:
April 01, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FASTER SRL (IT)
International Classes:
E02F3/36; A01B63/10; B60D1/62; B62D49/06; F16K11/00; F16K31/04; F16L37/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015067793A12015-05-14
Foreign References:
EP3244114A12017-11-15
EP2515015A12012-10-24
EP2700853A12014-02-26
EP3232759A12017-10-25
US7861642B22011-01-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LUALDI, Lorenzo et al. (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A hydraulic assembly (10) for connecting hydraulic lines (20,30) for pressurised fluids, of the type comprising a manifold (1) which houses, in corresponding seats, a plurality of female 5 cartridges (2,3) and comprising actuation means (4) of the cartridges configured for selectively decompressing the hydraulic lines (20,30) and connecting/disconnecting said cartridges (2,3) to/from corresponding male couplers (401) provided on the utilizer apparatus to be hydraulically connected to said assembly L0 (10), characterized in that it comprises electro-actuated actuators (11) for actuating said actuation means (4) of the cartridges for decompressing the hydraulic lines (20, 30), wherein said electro-actuated actuators (11) move said actuation means (4) of the cartridges between a rest position in which the L5 cartridges (2,3) are in the configuration suitable for retaining the corresponding male couplers, a first actuation position in which said actuation means (4) of the cartridges actuate at least one decompression valve (21,31) provided on each of said cartridges (2,3), causing the decompression of the corresponding 20 hydraulic line (20,30), and a second actuation position in which said actuation means (4) of the cartridges release the mechanical connection of at least one of said cartridges (2,3) from the corresponding male coupler, so as to facilitate the connection and disconnection operation of said cartridges (2,3) to/from

25 corresponding male couplers (401) .

2. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, characterized in that said electro-actuated actuators (11) are operationally connected to a control unit and further comprise an electromechanical actuator (12) controlled

5 by said control unit.

3. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterized in that said control unit of said electro-actuated actuators (11) is operationally connected with one or more microswitches (13) suitable for

L0 controlling the position of said electromechanical actuator (12) and/or actuation run of said actuation means (4) of the cartridges .

4. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterized in that said electro-

15 actuated actuators (11) are operationally connected to control means that can be actuated by the user.

5. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterized in that said electro- actuated actuators (11) comprise, in operational connection with

20 said control unit, a single run-end for each of said cartridges (2,3) so that said actuation means (4) of the cartridges simultaneously actuate the decompression and mechanical release of the cartridge.

6. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to claim

25 4, characterized in that said electro-actuated actuators (11) comprise, in operational connection with said control unit, a double run-end for each of said cartridges (2,3) so that said actuation means (4) of the cartridges actuate, with a first run, the decompression of the hydraulic lines, and with a second run, 5 the mechanical release of the cartridge.

7. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to claims 5 or 6, characterized in that said run-ends comprise one or more microswitches ( 13a, 13b, 13c, 13d, 13e) .

8. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to any of L0 the previous claims, characterized in that said control means actuated by the user of said electro-actuated actuators (11) comprise one or more push-buttons positioned on the machine or directly on the manifold (1) .

9. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or L5 more of the previous claims, characterized in that said control means actuated by the user further comprise one or more push buttons or timed relays so that a short pressure of said one or more push-buttons causes the reduced run of said actuators (11) and the decompression alone of the cartridges (2,3), a prolonged 20 pressure of the push-button causes the total run of said actuators (11) and the mechanical release of the cartridges (2,3) .

10. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said electro-actuated actuators (11) comprise a stepper motor whose running is controlled by an

25 electronic control system, or a motor (12') in direct current with an encoder installed.

11. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, characterized in that said direct current motor (12') equipped with an encoder is arranged with its own motor

5 axis (M) parallel to a connection shaft (50) which is in turn mechanically connected to said actuation means (4) of the cartridges (2,3) so that the rotary motion of the connection shaft (50), driven by the motor axis (M) of the direct current motor (12') by means of the encoder controlled by the control L0 electronics, actuates with a first partial run, the decompression of the hydraulic lines, and with a second overall run, the mechanical release of the cartridges (2,3), acting on each cartridge independently of each other.

12. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the

L5 previous claim, characterized in that said motor axis (M) of the direct current motor (12') is arranged along a substantially vertical direction, and said connection shaft (50) is also arranged with its own axis (T) vertical and parallel to the motor axis (M) .

20 13. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterized in that it comprises an electrical contact or a proximity sensor positioned in correspondence with the inlet end of the cartridge and configured for detecting the presence of the male coupler near the female

25 cartridge and automatically decompressing and releasing the cartridges, without the operator having to manually press the decompression/release button of the cartridges.

14. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterized in that said actuators

5 (11) that control the actuation means (4) of the cartridges are remotely controlled by a wireless connection through a push button positioned in the cabin or at another point far from the manifold.

15. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or L0 more of the previous claims, characterized in that said actuators

(11) that control the actuation means (4) of the cartridges (2,3) are automatically actuated by means of a recognition system of the correct coupling of a male coupler (401) with the relative cartridge (2,3) comprising at least one radio frequency L5 reader/transmitter, such as RFID, NFC, or the like.

16. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, characterized in that it comprises an RFID reader/transmitter (100) associated with said manifold (1) and suitable for detecting the presence of an RFID tag (500)

20 associated with a male coupler (401) or an element of the hydraulic line (400) with which said male coupler (401) is associated .

17. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, characterized in that said RFID

25 reader/transmitter (100) is in data communication with the control electronics (200) of the actuator (12,12') of said electro-actuated actuators (11).

18. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, characterized in that said RFID

5 reader/transmitter (100) is in data communication with the control electronics (200) of said DC motor (12') with an encoder.

19. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of claims 15 to 18, characterized in that said passive Tag (500) contains information concerning the male coupler (401)

L0 and/or the utilizer apparatus connected to the hydraulic line (400) with which said coupling (401) is associated.

20. The hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to the previous claim, wherein said RFID reader/transmitter is positioned above the manifold (1) itself inside a housing (300) .

L5 21. A method for the control of a hydraulic connection assembly (10) according to one or more of claims 15 to 20 comprising the following steps:

sending a radio frequency signal from said RFID reader/transmitter (100);

20 - when a passive RFID Tag (500) associated with a coupling (401) or with the hydraulic line (400) with which said coupling (401) is associated, is detected and read by the RFID reader/transmitter (100), communicating from said RFID reader/transmitter (100) to the control electronics (200) of the actuator (12') of said

25 electro-actuated actuators (11), the opening of the cartridge (2,3) with which the operator must couple the coupling (401) supporting said passive RFID Tag (500) .

22. The method according to the previous claim, further comprising a transmission step of the information stored in the 5 passive RFID Tag (500) from said RFID reader/ transmitter (100) to a control unit of the hydraulic unit of the operating machine with which said hydraulic connection assembly (10) is associated.

L0

L 5

20

Description:
IMPROVED HYDRAULIC CONNECTION ASSEMBLY WITH ELECTRO-ACTUATED

CARTRIDGES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a hydraulic connection 5 assembly mainly for agricultural applications comprising a block, also known as manifold, i.e. a casting generally in cast iron or similar material, which houses a plurality of female quick couplings, also called cartridges, which are inserted within said manifold and are suitable for establishing the hydraulic L0 connection between the existing hydraulic circuit on board the operating machine (e.g. a tractor in the case of agricultural applications) and the hydraulic circuit of removable hydraulic equipment to which the complementary male quick coupling is connected .

L5 STATE OF THE ART

Hydraulic assemblies of the type to which the present invention refers, suitable for connecting the on-board hydraulic circuit of an operating machine with the hydraulic circuit of removable hydraulic equipment, are known from the state of the 20 art.

In general, the manifold is mounted at the rear part of the vehicle and connected to the hydraulic unit of the latter, and makes the hydraulic power necessary for operating the equipment that is connected to the tractor, available to the user.

25 In order to hydraulically connect the hydraulic circuit of the machine to the users apparatus, the operator connects the male couplers connected to the hydraulic tubing of the rear tool to the cartridges inserted in the casting, one for supply, the other for oil return. Once the male couplers have been connected 5 to the female cartridges, the operator can start the hydraulic unit on the machine and then supply (through the casting and relative cartridges) power to the hydraulic motor of the apparatus, in terms of flow-rate and pressure.

The known manifolds of the state of the art comprise a L0 mechanical lever useful for zeroing the residual oil pressure in the circuit and for mechanically releasing the male coupler from the female cartridge in order to disconnect the utilizer apparatus .

The systems of the known type of the state of the art L5 therefore provide that the manifold, which incorporates a pair of female cartridges, be equipped with this lever that can be actuated by the user and configured for actuating both cartridges simultaneously, allowing the simultaneous mechanical release of the two male couplers of the hydraulic line, through a unilateral 20 movement of the lever, or for actuating one cartridge at a time, through a bilateral movement of the lever.

The second type is considered preferable, for an easier manual management by the operator.

These systems of the known type, however, are not free from

25 drawbacks. In particular, the need for having to manually actuate the lever for the connection and disconnection of the male couplers from the female cartridges necessarily implies that the user must get off the machine and operate the lever of the manifold whenever 5 he has to decompress or release the utilizer apparatus from the machine itself.

As already mentioned, the manifold is generally positioned at the rear of the machine, sometimes even in positions that are difficult to reach, and is very often subject to the accumulation L0 of dirt, such as mud and dust.

In particular, the lever can be difficult to reach and operate for the user.

In addition, actuating the lever to disconnect the utilizer apparatus is not always easy in itself, and sometimes requires L5 some physical force, especially when the residual pressure in the circuit is high.

Furthermore, a further drawback that afflicts systems with a manually actuated manifold of a known type lies in the fact that the user has to carry out an uncomfortable maneuver in the 20 decompression and disengagement phases since he has to grab the male coupler with one hand and operate the lever for decompression/disengagement with the other hand.

This is perceived as a drawback by the user, who, as he has to work for many hours with the machine, requires increasingly

25 higher levels of comfort both on the machine and in the decompression/ disengagement operations of the utilizer apparatus .

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the above, the aim of the present invention is 5 to provide a hydraulic connection assembly of the type comprising a manifold for housing a plurality of cartridges, which allows the drawbacks affecting hydraulic connection assemblies of the type known from the state of the art, to be solved.

Within this aim, the objective of the present invention is L0 to provide a hydraulic connection assembly which is easier for the operator to use in the decompression and disengagement phases of the male couplers on the utilizer apparatus side to/from the female cartridges of the manifold assembled on the machine, and in general in the hooking phases of the utilizer apparatus to the L5 machine.

The above-mentioned aim, as also the objectives indicated and others which will become clearer hereinafter, are achieved by a hydraulic connection assembly according to the enclosed claim 1.

Other characteristics of the hydraulic connection assembly 20 for pressurized fluids according to the present invention are provided in the dependent claims, which also form an integral part of the present description.

LIST OF FIGURES

Further characteristics and advantages will become clearer

25 from the description of preferred but non-exclusive embodiments of the hydraulic assembly for connecting hydraulic lines for pressurized fluids according to the present invention, illustrated as a non-limiting example with the aid of the attached drawings, in which:

5 - figure 1 shows an overall view of a connection assembly according to the present invention according to a first embodiment ;

- figures 1A and IB show the same view as figure 1 in which the movement of the actuators for actuating the actuation means of

L0 the cartridges is exemplified;

figure 2 shows a detailed view of the actuators of the connection assembly according to the first embodiment shown in figures 1, 1A and IB;

figure 3 shows an overall view of a connection assembly

L5 according to the present invention according to a second embodiment ;

- figure 4 illustrates a construction detail of the actuators of the connection assembly according to the present invention according to the embodiment of figure 3;

20 - figure 4A illustrates an overall view of a connection assembly according to the present invention according to a third embodiment ;

- figure 4B illustrates a construction detail of the actuators of the connection assembly according to the embodiment of figure

25 4A; - figure 5A shows a sectional view of the manifold comprising the cartridges of the connection assembly according to the present invention according to the first embodiment shown in figures 1 and 2, in a rest condition of the cartridges;

5 - figure 5B shows a detailed view of one of the cartridges of the manifold of figure 5A in the rest condition;

- figure 6A shows the same sectional view of the manifold of figure 5A in a condition for releasing the residual pressure from a first cartridge;

L0 - figure 6B shows a detailed view of the first cartridge of figure 6A in the pressure-release condition;

- figure 7A shows the same sectional view of the manifold of figure 1 in a release condition of the mechanical retaining balls which allow the disconnection of the first cartridge from the

L5 male coupler;

- figure 7B shows a detailed view of the first cartridge in the release condition of the mechanical retaining balls of figure 7A;

- figure 8A shows the same sectional view of the manifold of figure 1 in a condition for releasing the residual pressure from

20 a second cartridge;

- figure 8B shows a detailed view of the second cartridge in the release condition of the mechanical retaining balls of figure 8A;

- figure 9A shows the same sectional view of the manifold of figure 1 in a release condition of the mechanical retaining balls

25 which allow the disconnection of the male coupler from the second cartridge ;

- figure 9B shows a detailed view of the second cartridge in the release condition of the mechanical retaining balls of figure 9A;

- figure 10 shows an overall perspective view of a connection 5 assembly according to the present invention according to a further embodiment comprising an RFID reader/transmitter;

- figure 11 shows a schematic view of a male coupler of a utilizer apparatus provided with a passive RFID Tag;

- figure 12 shows a block diagram that schematically illustrates L0 the exchange of information between the electro-actuated manifold and the male coupler in the embodiment which provides for the presence of an RFID transmitter and RFID tag;

figures 13 and 14 schematically illustrate a possible functioning of the hydraulic assembly according to the present L5 invention equipped with a data exchange system based on the use of the RFID technology.

DE TAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With particular reference to the attached figures, the hydraulic connection assembly 10 for the connection of hydraulic 20 lines 20, 30 for pressurized fluids according to the present invention, comprises a manifold 1 in which housing seats are obtained, configured for accommodating female cartridges 2, 3.

More specifically, with reference to the embodiments shown in the attached figures, the manifold 1 comprises two seats for

25 housing the same number of cartridges 2, 3. The hydraulic assembly 10, object of the present invention, is in fact advantageously intended for use in the agricultural field for connecting the hydraulic supply and return lines of the hydraulic circuit on the machine to a utilizer apparatus.

5 Each of said cartridges 2, 3 comprises, according to what is known from the state of the art, a main body 22 which comprises a rear internal body 22a which houses valve means 23 for releasing the hydraulic pressure located in the rear area of the cartridge, and housing seats 24, 25 for receiving the retaining balls of the L0 male coupler, not shown in the figures, positioned in the front area of the cartridge.

The hydraulic connection assembly 10 according to the present invention further comprises actuation means for the cartridges 4 comprising control means 7 outside the manifold 1 and a rocker L5 lever 5, positioned inside the manifold 1, hinged in a central fulcrum 6 and having two arms 5a, 5b substantially having the same length, moved by said control means 7 outside the manifold 1.

The hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention 20 further comprises electro-actuated actuators 11 for actuating said actuation means of the cartridges 4, i.e. for decompressing the hydraulic lines 20, 30 through the cartridges 2, 3 and allowing the connection/disconnection of the cartridges 2, 3 with/from the corresponding male couplers, not shown.

25 More specifically, with reference to the embodiments shown in the attached figures, the manifold 1 according to the present invention advantageously comprises a first cartridge 2 positioned on a first hydraulic line 20, and a second cartridge 3 positioned on a second hydraulic line 30.

5 Each of said first 2 and second 3 cartridges comprises pressure-release means comprising said valve means 23 which are opened when pressed by a spacer 21, 31 suitably provided behind each of said cartridges 2, 3 in correspondence with the valve means 23, 33 of each of the same and which is pushed by said

L0 rocker lever 5 in abutment with said valve means 23, 33.

More specifically, each of said arms 5a, 5b interacts with a corresponding spacer 21, 31 suitably provided at the rear of each of said cartridges 2, 3 in correspondence with the valve means

23, 33.

L5 According to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention shown in the attached figures, the actuation means of the cartridges 4 described above are actuated by electro-actuated means 11 which in turn comprise an electromechanical actuator 12 in turn controlled by a unit of control.

20 According to what is visible in particular in figures 1A and

IB, said electro-actuated means 11 can advantageously comprise a linear electromechanical actuator 12, preferably with a horizontal axis, which moves a lever 7 in turn connected with said central fulcrum 6 so as to selectively move a first 5a, or 25 a second 5b arm of said rocker lever 5. With particular reference to the second preferred embodiment of the present invention shown by way of example in figures 3 and 4, said electro-actuated actuators 11 can advantageously comprise an electromechanical actuator 12 with a vertical axis.

5 Said electro-actuated actuators 11 are advantageously inserted in a protective casing resistant to infiltrations of atmospheric agents, dirt and, preferably, water, and also resistant to impact, or contact with external objects.

The functioning of the hydraulic connection assembly 10 L0 according to the present invention will now be described with particular reference to figures 5A to 9B .

Figure 5A shows an overall view of the hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention in a rest condition, in which the actuation means of the cartridges 4, and in particular the L5 rocker lever 5, are in a neutral rest position wherein the arms

5a, 5b of the rocker lever 5 do not interact with the spacers 21, 31 provided at the rear of said cartridges 2, 3, and the valve means 23, 33 are not activated for opening.

In this rest position, the electro-actuated actuators 11 are 20 also in a rest position.

With particular reference to figure 5B, in this rest position, the first cartridge 2 is situated inside the manifold 1 in a retracted position, so that the retaining balls, not shown, for coupling the male coupler, are blocked in place by the abutment

25 26 provided on the internal surface of the main body 22 of the cartridge 2.

In the rest configuration, the second cartridge 3 is also in the same rest position as described above for the first cartridge

2.

5 With particular reference to figure 6A, the condition in which said first cartridge 2 is actuated in decompression is described hereunder.

By actuating said electro-actuated actuators 11 which, for example, move the external lever 7, operationally connected to L0 said central fulcrum 6, towards the front area of the manifold 1, the actuation means 4 of the cartridges will move said rocker lever 5 so that the first arm 5a of said rocker lever 5 pushes the first spacer 21 against the valve means 23 of said first cartridge 2, causing the release of the pressure present in the L5 first line which is discharged outwardly through the opening 40.

The path of the pressurized fluid is indicated by the arrows F in figure 6A.

As can be seen from figure 6A, when the actuation means 4 of the cartridges actuate the first cartridge 2 in decompression, 20 the second cartridge 3 is still in the rest condition described above .

Turning now to figure 7A, a further run of said electro- actuated actuators 11 will involve the movement of the actuation means 4 of the cartridges towards a second actuation position in 25 which the rocker lever 5 is further rotated around the central fulcrum 6 in the direction which involves a further thrust of the spacer 21 towards the valve means 23. This further run of the spacer 21 involves the movement towards the front area of the manifold 1, of the main body 22 of the cartridge 2, so that the 5 coupling balls of the male coupler can expand radially in correspondence with the receiving seat 24 thus allowing the release of the male coupler from the female cartridge 2.

The alignment of the main body 22 of the cartridge 2 with respect to the receiving seat 24 formed in correspondence with L0 the internal surface of the main body 22 is shown in particular in figure 7B.

Figures 8A and 8B respectively show the movement of the rocker lever 5 which, with the second arm 5b, pushes the second spacer 31 in abutment against the valve means 33 of the second cartridge

L5 3, housed in the rear internal body 32a of the main body 32 of said second cartridge 3, causing the decompression of the second hydraulic line 30, and a detail of the second cartridge 3 in which the valve means 33 are open.

The electro-actuated actuators 11 therefore move the

20 actuation means 4 of the cartridges, in particular the rocker lever 5, preferably moved by the external lever 7, in the opposite direction to that described above with reference to figures 6A and 7A which showed the actuation, first in decompression and then in the release and ejection of the male coupler, of the

25 first cartridge 2. Continuing in their run, the actuation means 4 of the cartridges, moved by the electro-actuated actuators 11, cause the release and expulsion of the male coupler from the cartridge 3, according to what can be seen in figures 9A and 9B, bringing the 5 receiving seat 34 of the retaining balls of the male coupler in correspondence with the latter so that the coupling balls of the male coupler can expand radially allowing disconnection.

According to what has been described so far, therefore, the electro-actuated actuators 11 move said actuation means 4 of the L0 cartridges between a rest position in which the cartridges 2, 3 are in the configuration suitable for withholding the corresponding male couplers, a first actuation position in which said actuation means 4 of the cartridges actuate at least one decompression valve 21, 31 provided on each of said cartridges

L5 2, 3 causing the decompression of the corresponding hydraulic line 20, 30, and a second actuation position in which said actuation means 4 of the cartridges release the mechanical connection of at least one of said cartridges 2, 3 from the corresponding male coupler.

20 According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the electro-actuated actuators 11 advantageously further comprise a control unit and an electromechanical actuator 12, controlled by said control unit, for actuating the actuation means of the cartridges 4.

25 Said control unit of said electro-actuated actuators 11 is preferably operationally connected with one or more micro switches 13 suitable for detecting the position of said electromechanical actuator 12 and/or the actuation run of said actuation means of the cartridges 4.

5 Said electro-actuated actuators 11 are preferably operationally connected to control means operated by the user, which can consist of, for example, an electric push-button.

More specifically, said user-operated control means of said electro-actuated actuators 11 can comprise one or more electric L0 push-buttons positioned on the machine or directly on the manifold and operated by the user.

If said electro-actuated actuators 11 comprise, in operative connection with said control unit, a single run-end for each of said cartridges 2, 3, said actuation means of the cartridges 4

L5 simultaneously actuate the decompression and mechanical release of the cartridge.

Alternatively, the electro-actuated actuators 11 comprise, particularly on said electromechanical actuator 12 in operative connection with said control unit, a double run-end for each of 20 said cartridges 2, 3, so that said actuation means 4 of the cartridges actuate the decompression of the hydraulic lines with a first partial run, and the mechanical release of the cartridge with a second overall run.

By way of example, the electromechanical actuator 12 can

25 comprise a DC motor with linear drive by means of, for example, a trapezoidal screw 12a actuated by a rotating threaded bush; a position-control system, in turn preferably comprising a first microswitch 13a integral with the motor body for central positioning corresponding to the rest condition of the

5 cartridges.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention in which the actuator 12 is equipped with a single run-end for each cartridge, a second microswitch 13b integral with the motor body for the forward run-end is provided for detecting a run-end L0 position corresponding to the decompression and release condition of the first cartridge 2, and a third microswitch 13c integral with the motor body for the reverse run-end is provided for detecting a run-end position corresponding to the decompression and release condition of the second cartridge 3.

L5 In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the actuator 12 is equipped with a single double run-end for each cartridge. In this case, along the forward run of the actuator 12, in addition to said second microswitch 13b, a fourth microswitch 13d is further provided, so that said fourth 20 microswitch 13d detects the intermediate run corresponding to the decompression condition of the first cartridge 2, and said second microswitch 13b detects the run-end condition corresponding to the release condition of the first cartridge 2.

In the same way, a fifth microswitch 13e may be present in

25 the case of an actuator 12 equipped with a double run-end for the actuation of the second cartridge 3 for the intermediate run-end in decompression of the second cartridge 3, in addition to said third microswitch 13c for the run-end provided for detecting a run-end position corresponding to the release condition of the 5 second cartridge 3.

The actuation slots 14a of the microswitches 13a, 13b, 13c,

13d and 13e are advantageously provided on a slide 14 translating with the trapezoidal screw 12a.

According to what is shown by way of example in figure 1, in L0 this embodiment wherein the electro-actuated actuators 11 comprise a DC motor with a linearly actuated slide, the microswitches 13a, 13b, 13c, 13d and 13e are therefore advantageously actuated through the relative movement of the slide 14, equipped with slots 14a, with respect to the L5 microswitches themselves.

The slots 14a, directly facing the contact points of the microswitches, open and close the contacts, controlling the actuation and shutdown of the electromechanical actuator 12 in correspondence with the starting and arrival points of the 20 mechanical system.

With particular reference to figures 2 and 3, these show an alternative embodiment with a vertical-axis actuator 12. In this case, the rotary motion of the actuated shaft of the actuator 12 must be transformed into the translational motion of the slide.

25 The transformation of the rotary motion of the shaft into the translational motion of the slide 14 can be carried out in various ways, with kinematic mechanisms of the known type, for example with a pinion integral with the shaft and a rack integral with the slide, with a pulley that moves a belt, with a pinion that 5 moves a chain and so forth.

As an alternative to a direct current motor, the actuator 12 of the hydraulic assembly with electro-actuated cartridges 10 according to the present invention can comprise a stepper motor with an electronic control system with programming of the L0 functions, or a direct current motor with an encoder installed, used by electronics for position control.

According to a preferred embodiment schematically illustrated in figures 4A and 4B, the electro-actuated actuators 11 can advantageously comprise a direct current motor 12 with an encoder L5 and electronic control, in this case avoiding the need for installing run-end sensors such as the microswitches described above with reference to the embodiment of figure 4.

Again with reference to figures 4A and 4B, the actuators 11 according to this preferred embodiment of the invention can 20 advantageously comprise an electric motor 12 powered by direct current and advantageously arranged with its own motor axis M parallel to a connection shaft 50 which is connected to said actuation means 4 of the cartridges of the hydraulic assembly so that the rotary motion of the connection shaft 50, actuated by

25 the motor axis M of the motor 12' by means of the encoder controlled by the control electronics, can operate the decompression of the hydraulic lines with a first partial run, and, with a second overall run, the mechanical release of the cartridges 2, 3, independently acting on each cartridge.

5 Assuming that the cartridges 2, 3 identify a substantially horizontal direction, with reference to the figures, the motor axis M of the motor 12' is advantageously arranged in a substantially vertical direction, and the connection shaft 50 is also arranged with its axis T vertical and parallel to the motor L0 axis M.

Motion-transmission means, not illustrated as they can be produced according to numerous variations within the reach of skilled persons in the field, are advantageously provided between the motor axis M of the motor 12' and the connection shaft 50 for L5 transmitting the motion from the motor shaft M to connection shaft 50.

There are therefore many possible alternatives available to skilled persons in the field for implementing the electro- actuated actuators 11 which move the actuation means 4 of the 20 cartridges of the hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention .

Furthermore, the hydraulic assembly 10 for pressurized fluids according to the present invention comprises electro-actuated actuators 11 which can be operationally connected to control

25 means actuated by the user. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, said control means actuated by the user for controlling the electro- actuated actuators 11 comprise one or more push-buttons, preferably two push-buttons for each block, or casting, i.e. one 5 push-button for each cartridge, positioned on the machine or directly on manifold 1.

When said actuators 11 comprise an actuator 12 with a double run-end, said push-buttons can comprise timed relays so that a short pressure of said one or more push-buttons causes the reduced L0 run-end of said actuators 11 and the decompression alone of the cartridges 2, 3, and a prolonged pressure of the push-button causes the total run-end of said actuators 11 and the mechanical release of the cartridges 2, 3.

In the state of the art, the user can forcibly insert the L5 male coupler into the cartridge without operating the actuator.

In this case, however, the operator must exert considerable force as he has to move the retaining balls to the housing seat provided on the cartridge, overcoming the preload of the spring.

The spring preload is generally high, as it is calibrated 20 according to the high operating pressures characteristic of the applications in question. Consequently, the physical effort that the operator must exert for connecting the coupler to the cartridge is, as already mentioned, high.

According to the embodiment of the invention described above,

25 however, the operator can press the push-button with a prolonged pressure to cause both the decompression and the release of the cartridge, at this point he can insert the male coupler and the operation is facilitated by the system that opens the retaining balls by overcoming the spring preload.

5 In the same way, in order to disconnect the male coupler, the operator must press the push-button for a long time in order to decompress and release the cartridge, wait for the male coupler to be ejected and release the push-button.

Furthermore, according to an alternative embodiment of the L0 hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention, a proximity sensor, produced for example by means of a further specific microswitch which is closed when the male coupler is inserted in the manifold, can allow the cartridges to be automatically decompressed and released, without the operator L5 having to manually press the decompression/release button of the cartridges .

According to this preferred embodiment, when the male coupler is inserted into the manifold, the contact of the specific microswitch is closed and said electro-actuated actuators 11 move 20 the actuation means 4 of the cartridges causing the decompression and opening of the retaining balls of the relative cartridge. The operator can then insert the male coupler into the corresponding cartridge by opening the contact again and closing the cartridge.

For the release and expulsion of the male coupler, the

25 operator must preferably press the push-button for a long time. In this way, an accidental and undesired pressing of the push button by the operator prevents an undesired release of the connection. The operator can therefore press the push-button and, for example, if he realizes that he has pressed the push-button 5 by mistake, if he releases it after a short period, the engagement is not disconnected.

Again, according to a further alternative embodiment of the hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention, the specific microswitch which allows the automatic decompression and L0 opening of the cartridge, can advantageously be associated with the closure cap of the seat of each cartridge, said cap usually being provided on the manifold for closing the cartridges.

In this case, the opening of the cap causes the closure of the specific microswitch and the decompression and opening of the L5 cartridge, the operator proceeds with inserting the male coupler which opens the contact again causing the closure of the cartridge .

When opening, the operator must press a specific push-button advantageously provided on the cap itself, causing the contact 20 to close and therefore the decompression and opening of the cartridge, the subsequent expulsion of the male coupler and the consequent automatic opening of the contact and the closure of the cartridge.

Again, according to a further alternative embodiment of the

25 hydraulic assembly 10 according to the present invention, the actuators 11 which control the actuation means of the cartridges 4 can advantageously be controlled remotely using a wireless connection, for example by providing a push-button in the cabin with a transmitter that remotely controls the specific contact 5 that sends the command to the actuators 11 for the decompression and release of the cartridges, as described above.

With particular reference to figures 10 to 14, a further preferred embodiment of the present invention will now be described wherein the actuators 11 which control the actuation L0 means 4 of the cartridges 2, 3 are automatically actuated by means of a recognition system of the correct coupling of a male coupler with the relative cartridge, said system comprising at least one RFID reader/transmitter, or NFC, or the like.

More specifically, with particular reference to figures 10 L5 and 11, an RFID reader/transmitter (Radio Frequency

Identification) is associated with the block or manifold 1, indicated as a whole with the reference number 100 in figure 10.

Again with reference to the preferred embodiment illustrated in figure 10, the RFID reader/transmitter is advantageously 20 positioned above the manifold 1 itself inside a housing 300 which protects the components of the RFID element itself, and which can advantageously also house the control electronics (generally indicated by the reference number 200) of the motor 12, which is preferably, even if not necessarily, a DC motor with an encoder

25 according to the embodiment illustrated by way of example in figures 4A and 4B.

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the housing 300 can comprise a cover 301 made of plastic material or in any case made of a suitable material (i.e. which does not 5 obstruct the passage of radio waves) to allow the passage of radio waves used for the transmission of data from RFID elements.

The cover 301 can also be made of metallic material, in order to ensure greater protection for the components positioned in the housing 300, and in this case the cover 301 can include a window LO to allow the passage of the radio frequency signal or it can be completely closed, without windows in a material suitable for the passage of the radio signal, but equipped with an antenna.

With particular reference to figure 11, an RFID tag 500, i.e. an element of the passive type, is associated with the male L5 coupler 401 destined for being inserted in one of the cartridges

2, 3 of the manifold 1 or at the end of the hydraulic tube 400, preferably in correspondence with a special handle 402 often provided on said hydraulic tube 400 for facilitating the gripping and insertion of the male coupler 401 into the corresponding 20 cartridge 2, 3 by the operator.

With particular reference to figures 12, 13 and 14, the functioning of the automatic coupling recognition system and the correct positioning/association of the coupling 401 to one of the cartridges 2, 3 of manifold 1 is illustrated hereunder.

25 In an automatically actuated system in which the recognition of the connection, i.e. the recognition of the correct seat for inserting the coupling 401 that the operator moves towards the manifold 1, takes place as described by means of RFID/NFC sensors that effect the reading of the passive RFID Tag present on the 5 male coupler 401, or, as already indicated, on the handle 402 or on another part of the tube 400.

The reading of the information carried by the passive Tag 500 present on the male coupler can take place in the following ways:

RFID technology allows the recognition of Tags in contact (or LO at a short distance, e.g. with the NFC technology), or at a finite distance (from 50 to 500 mm, e.g. with the UHF RAIN technology.

Passive tags can be previously programmed univocally, through a specific hardware and software system or through an application (App) that can also be shared with the end user.

L5 The Tag therefore carries a unique encoding, and this encoding can be associated with a specific function, or with specific characteristics, of the male coupler on which the same Tag is installed .

RFID recognition therefore allows a signal to be provided of 20 a correct or incorrect combination between the cartridge 2, 3 of the casting and the male coupler 401 on the attachment or hydraulic line 400.

Many other features, however, can be achieved thanks to the RFID technology.

25 In addition to the correct/incorrect combination when the final operator moves the male coupler 401 towards the right/wrong cartridge 2, 3, which can be manifested for example by the lighting of the corresponding warning LED lights (green/red colour on each opening/release button of the cartridge, or simply 5 by the lighting/ flashing of a led of any colour of the opening/release button relating to the correct cartridge), the RFID radio frequency technology can also allow for example:

the actuation of the electronic control of the actuator 12 when the male coupler is moved towards the correct cartridge, L0 which is actuated causing the opening of the cartridge relating to the correct connection, in order to facilitate the insertion of the male coupler itself, thus obtaining two advantages: on the one hand, the cartridge relating to the incorrect connection will not be activated/opened and therefore the user, in addition to L5 any visual signal, will be physically unable to insert the male coupler into the wrong cartridge) , on the other hand, the opening of the cartridge relating to the correct connection facilitates the insertion of the male coupler, improving the ergonomics of the connection, as the thrust force that the operator must exert 20 in order to insert the male coupler into the female cartridge is significantly reduced;

the RFID signal transmitted by the Tag (male coupling) to the reader (manifold/cartridge) can also transmit to the operating machine on which the manifold 1 is mounted, information

25 about the type and characteristics of the utilizer apparatus connected to the coupling 401 which is about to be connected, and consequently information on the power needed for moving it, thus being able to reduce the unnecessary power (fuel saving), and/or receive information concerning the conditions of the utilizer 5 apparatus itself, thus being able to predict any possible scheduled maintenance operations (predictive maintenance) .

Numerous variations and combinations of what has been described so far can be conceived by skilled persons in the field. With reference to figure 13, for example, a fully automatic L0 functioning method of the RFID recognition system is illustrated in which, when the operator moves the male coupler with a passive Tag towards the block or manifold equipped with an RFID reader/transmitter, the LED is automatically switched on illuminating the push-button relating to the correct cartridge L5 in which the coupling is to be inserted, or a green LED will light up in correspondence with the correct cartridge, if more than one LED colour (red and green) is provided.

At this point, according to the block diagram of figure 12, the RFID on the manifold can communicate with the control 20 electronics 200 of the actuator 12 and automatically open the cartridge to allow easier insertion of the male coupler into the correct cartridge.

According to what is illustrated in figure 13, the release/opening button which in any case is present to allow

25 disengagement of the male coupler from the cartridge, can light up (of any color if the push-button is provided for lighting up in correspondence with the correct cartridge, or green if LEDs of different colors are provided, for example green and red) , to indicate to the operator the correct cartridge in which the male 5 coupler is to be inserted.

According to a fully automatic operating mode, the control electronics will directly actuate the actuator 12 and open the correct cartridge, whereas according to a semi-automatic operating mode, the last opening step of the correct cartridge L0 can be operated by the user who is required to press the push button corresponding to the correct cartridge to be opened, which has been previously illuminated (or is green, if red and green LEDs are provided) .

With reference to figure 14, the approach towards the manifold L5 1 , of a male coupler 401 that carries a Tag that univocally identifies it as suitable for being correctly associated with the other cartridge, will cause the same opening/actuation sequence of the second cartridge.

Even when the hydraulic connection assembly according to the 20 present invention is equipped with an automatic recognition and actuation system by means of RFID as described so far, for safety reasons, the disengagement phase which allows the removal of the coupling from the cartridges will preferably always require that the operator press the block/open button corresponding to the 25 cartridge from which the male coupler is to be disengaged. The hydraulic connection assembly for the connection of hydraulic lines of pressurized fluids equipped with electro- actuated cartridges according to the present invention allows the aim to be accomplished and the objectives set by the invention 5 itself, to be achieved.

The present invention has been described, for illustrative but non-limiting purposes, according to preferred embodiments, but it should be understood that variations and/or modifications can be applied by skilled persons in the field, without thereby L0 departing from the relative protection scope, as defined in the enclosed claims.

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