MAUMEE, Ohio—Slowly but surely, Eaton Corp. P.L.C.'s LifeSense-brand hydraulic hose condition and monitoring system is making its way into the marketplace.
More than 50 people representing 15 distributors have gone through training courses at Eaton's location in Maumee this year, and the firm has started shipping orders over the last few months, according to Mike Beining, Eaton engineering manager for new product development in its Hydraulics Hose & Fittings business.
Eaton unveiled the LifeSense technology in 2011. Available in either a wired or wireless version, it is designed to detect failure-related events within a hose and to notify the end user the hose is near the end of its useful life. Each hose fitting has a sensor to monitor hose conditions via electrical signals that go to a diagnostic unit, which interprets the data.
The LifeSense system then generates an alert when it is determined that the hose should be replaced. Eaton said the system can boost useful hose life by 50 percent, protect workers, maximize uptime, make maintenance operations more efficient and provide environmental benefits.
For distributors to be able to make their own LifeSense hose assemblies, personnel must be certified. “You can buy hose assemblies through Eaton, and we can make them for you,” Beining said. “But if you want to make it yourself and have your own equipment, you need to go through the training first.”
The two-day classes at Maumee provide both hands-on and classroom training. “At the end you have to pass a test and physically make up a certified LifeSense hose assembly to prove you can make it yourself,” he said.
Feedback from the sessions has been positive, and distributors have been able to learn more about the new technology. “When you see a brochure or article, you don't really learn all about it,” Beining said. “A lot of this is hands-on, and they're really able to touch and feel the product and get a sense for how everything works.”
And for the most part, he said distributors prefer to have the option of making the assemblies themselves rather than buying ready-made products from Eaton.
“They want to be able to make their own hose assemblies so they can be better prepared,” the Eaton official said. “They want to be able to replace the hose themselves right away rather than place an order through us. It gets the product closer to the end user, and they have it ready to repair when it's needed.”
The number of people taking the training—offered for the first time early this year—has been about what the firm expected. Eaton will continue to work with the distribution base, Beining said, to make sure everyone is aware of the product, and the firm will continue to offer training classes.