Determining the Optimal Number of Pistons for Offshore Digital Winch Drives

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In offshore winch drive applications, determining the required number of pistons in digital displacement motors is critical for minimizing torque ripples. Digital displacement motors have shown promise for improving energy efficiency for offshore operations, such as placing equipment on the seabed or mineral drilling. However, they are known for exhibiting significant torque ripples, which can affect load-handling precision. This paper estimates the required number of pistons for realizing a digital hydraulic winch drive based on information from a commercial winch. The proposed drive employs full-stroke displacement strategies at high speeds and partial-stroke at low speeds. By simulating steady-state operations, this study correlates torque output with position oscillations. The results show that 37 pistons are required to keep position oscillations below a benchmark threshold of 10 mm throughout the drive’s operating range to avoid hindering the drive’s performance. However, such a high piston count could result in high costs due to the large, expensive valves required for partial-stroke operations. Therefore, this paper suggests an alternative drive topology for future research, which could potentially reduce the number of pistons that are operated with partial strokes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7371
Issue number21
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Digital Hydraulics
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Offshore
  • Winch Drive
  • valves


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