A Game-Changer for Off Highway Solutions

Thomas at IPFE Las Vegas

March 14, 2023, sees the doors open at IFPE Las Vegas, one of the most illustrious trade shows for fluid technology, drive engineering, and motion control. Thomas will be showcasing innovative solutions there too, bringing along products that promise unbeatable efficiency and precision in the off-highway segment, plus a wealth of ideas for how trends of the future like steer-by-wire can be turned into reality. Highlights will include its Integrated Pilot Head (IPH), its digital Electro Hydraulic Actuator (EHA), and its Compact Pilot Actuator (CPA).

IFPE Las Vegas


Experts from the construction industry and the hydraulic and drive engineering sectors come together in Las Vegas every three years. The exhibition is the largest of its kind in the U.S., and 2023’s edition will be focused more than ever before on issues such as efficiency savings, productivity, and sustainability. These are all areas for which Thomas, a leading specialist in actuator systems, can offer a wide range of attractive solutions.

CAN-controlled with integrated intelligence: the EHA and EMA

Thomas has developed its Electro Hydraulic Actuator (EHA) and Electro Mechanic Actuator (EMA) for construction machinery, cranes, and steering applications with particularly high system safety requirements. What makes both of them unique is that they are “connected.” Specifically, they are CAN-controlled units for hydraulic directional control valves that boast short response times, a high degree of precision, and consistent motion control. They can be actuated via SAE J1939, CANopen, or a proprietary bus, and the characteristic and flow linearization curves can both be configured. What is more, the EHA and EMA come with integrated intelligence that is connected to the higher-level system and supplies it with data for control and optimization. This means that the system always knows whether the sensors integrated in the EHA and EMA are working correctly. Thus both units improve the efficiency and reliability of the hydraulic systems and deliver greater benefits for the customer. The EMA is ideal for applications that call for maximum system stability and motion dynamics because it is actuated mechanically. Meanwhile, the EHA is tailor-made for applications that place particularly high demands on safety, as it comes equipped with corresponding safety features in accordance with DIN EN ISO 13849.

Focusing on the future

The technologies used inside the EHA and EMA also offer another key benefit for manufacturers, namely that they are based on the Thomas Electronic Standard (TES) – a modular system with standardized interfaces. The TES was developed based on Thomas’s “Sense. Think. Act.” strategy and enables products to be developed safely, cost-effectively, more flexibly, and, most importantly, much faster.

Valve concepts re-envisioned: the IPH and CPA

With its Integrated Pilot Head (IPH) and Compact Pilot Actuator (CPA), Thomas is once again demonstrating how the company likes to think outside the box. Both represent completely innovative, cost-efficient valve concepts.The IPH, for instance, is a proportional pressure-reducing valve that is the only one of its kind on the market and that is ideally suited to compact construction machinery. Because all its hydraulic functions are contained within the solenoid, it does not need a valve sleeve on top. This makes it compact and space-saving while maintaining a flow rate of 2,5 l/min. What is more, the IPH also makes installation easier, because the connection interface does not require any time-consuming drilling. And, last but not least, an integrated filter element protects the hydraulic connections and prevents system contamination.

Compact valve concept: Integrated Pilot Head (IPH)

As its name suggests, the Compact Pilot Actuator (CPA) also features impressively small dimensions. The concept has already made a splash once, specifically at its world premiere at bauma in 2022. This is hardly surprising, as the CPA is the only proportional control valve for the off-highway sector to be a mere 26 mm wide. This means it has the potential to become a game-changer for manufacturers of small construction machinery, as main control valves for mini excavators and similar systems can be made smaller than ever before. And because only one screw instead of two now needs to be tightened during assembly, the CPA also speeds up production. These and other product highlights will be available to view at Thomas’s trade show booth. Thomas is the perfect development partner and system supplier for innovative and customized electronic actuator solutions for fluid and mechatronic applications based on efficient standards. The Thomas team is looking forward to discussing smart product solutions and forward-looking projects with interested visitors in person – IFPE South Hall, 2nd Level, Booth S-81741.

Very small footprint: Compact Pilot Actuator (CPA)