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Our latest blog looks at renewable energy and how hydraulic power packs are used to power a range of applications in this field.
These applications include wind turbines, commercial biomass boiler systems, solar panels and many more. Below we go into detail about the most commonly used applications and how hydraulic power systems are implemented to power them:
Frequently described as the power of the future, wind power harnesses the forces of nature to create a renewable source of energy and wind turbines have been appearing more often around the countryside in recent years.
Powering large areas of population, it is essential that turbines have a reliable power source. The hydraulic power pack is situated high in the turbine body behind the rotors and its main functions are to control the braking system, the pitch adjustment of the rotors and the rotor locking mechanism.
Wind turbines also have to put up with a range of adverse environmental conditions due to their size and placement with elements such as seawater salt affecting offshore systems and high winds and storms potentially affecting the majority of turbines.
Industry standards suggest that turbines should have a successful operating life of approximately 25 years, so quality and reliability are paramount to a long operational life.
Solar power is one of the most popular types of renewable energy as is it a cost effecting method that can yield substantial savings in the long term.
It is also a simple process, as it harnesses the suns energy to generate heat and electricity and many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and implementing solar power to make savings on annual running costs.
So, where do hydraulic power packs fit into the equation?
As solar panels need to be able to track the suns position for optimal efficiency, hydraulic power packs are required to power the panel’s movements and provide a precise and reliable power source for this function. The power packs are typically situated in an enclosed control system which helps prevent damage from the elements including flooding and storm damage.
The units are commonly designed to customer bespoke specification and are tailored for easy maintenance and accessibility.
Hydropower is another essential and widely used form of renewable energy which is used widely across the globe.
Hydraulics play a big role in the running of these applications and help control vital control systems including gate operations, brake systems and shut off controls. They are used in both hydroelectric plants and in flood defence barriers where they power hydraulically actuated penstocks, which ensure correct water levels are maintained at all times.
The power pack in penstock applications is situated above ground along with any electrical systems, as to avoid possible flooding and to ensure telemetry is constantly communicated without the risk of malfunctions due to water ingress and other environmental factors.
Biomass Boiler Systems
Widely used in both commercial and industrial applications including homes, schools and industry, biomass boilers are an extremely popular renewable energy source which comes in various sizes and specifications.
The boiler itself contains a ‘Walking floor’ which is basically two metal plates which move forwards and backwards to gradually push waste material into the boiler. Wood chippings and pellets are the common type of products that you see fed through this system. The hydraulic power pack is responsible for powering the Walking Floor and ensuring it operates reliably and effectively.
In this article we want to explain the ins and outs of hydraulic powerpacks. A vital piece of equipment that is used with so many machines we see every day.
In a nutshell, hydraulic powerpacks are self contained units that are used instead of a built in power supply for hydraulic machinery. Hydraulic power uses fluid to transmit power from one location to another in order to run a machine. It really is as simple as that.
So what do they look like?
In order to recognise and better understand hydraulic powerpacks, it is a good idea to get to know the key components. Hydraulic powerpacks come in many different shapes and sizes, some are very large and stationary whereas others are much smaller and more compact. In fact, some hydraulic powerpacks are so compact that they can easily be transported in a small van or even an estate car.
The only real way to identify hydraulic powerpacks is through its main components. No matter the size of the unit, all power packs will have the following; a hydraulic reservoir, regulators, a pump, motor, pressure supply lines and relief lines.
What do these components do?
It may be obvious to some but in this post we wanted to explain every hydraulic power pack component as simply as possible. So here goes.
First up is the hydraulic reservoir which quite simply holds the fluid. Reservoirs will come in different sizes.
Then we have the regulators. Regulators are vital as they control and maintain the amount of pressure that the hydraulic powerpack delivers.
Thirdly we have the pressure supply lines and relief lines. The supply line simply supplies fluid under pressure to the pump and the relief lines relieve pressure between the pump and the valves. The relief lines also control the direction of flow through the system.
Finally we have the pump and a motor. We will begin with the simpler component of the two, the motor. The motor is simply there to power the pump. Easy as that. Now the pump generally performs two actions. Firstly, it operates as a vacuum at the pump inlet and through atmospheric pressure forces fluid from the reservoir into the inlet line and then to the pump. It then delivers the fluid to the pump outlet and pumps it into the hydraulic system. We did warn you that the second part would be slightly more confusing.
So what is the function of hydraulic powerpacks?
Hydraulic powerpacks deliver power through a control valve which in turn runs the machine it is connected to. Hydraulic powerpacks come with a variety of valve connections. This means that you can power a variety of machines by using the appropriate valves.
Hydraulic powerpacks are relied upon by a range of different machines that use hydraulic power to do its work. If a machine is required to carry out heavy or systematic lifting then its likely it would need help from a hydraulic powerpack.
To make it easier for you to understand, we have included a list of trades that regularly rely on our powerpacks. On a building site you will see machines like bulldozers and excavators, which both need hydraulic powerpacks. But, it is not just on building sites that you will find these types of machines. Fishermen and mechanics both need hydraulic powerpacks too. If we did not have them then how would fishermen lift their nets or how would mechanics lift our cars?
When picking a hydraulic powerpack there are a variety of pumps and options to pick from and it is important to pick the right pack to meet your machines needs. It is also important to consider a pack that will help maximise productivity and minimise cost.
Many people will overlook the necessity of hydraulic powerpacks, but they really are vital to ensuring our society runs efficiently.
Do you need to maintain hydraulic powerpacks?
Yes you do and this is hugely important! Hydraulic powerpacks require regular maintenance to ensure they are working properly and safely and to help extend their life. Maintaining hydraulic powerpacks is relatively simple and includes checking the tubing, this can be for any noticeable problems such as dents or cracks. It is also vital to regularly change the hydraulic fluid and look at the reservoir to check for any corrosion or rust in hydraulic power packs.
What hydraulic powerpacks do we provide?
Generally we provide four different types of hydraulic powerpacks. You can pick from a standard powerpack, a mini powerpack, a micro powerpack or a bespoke powerpack.
The standard hydraulic powerpack uses a standard range of modular components and is ideal for the most demanding industrial applications. The mini powerpack is ideal for applications requiring up to 5.5kW. The micro hydraulic powerpacks were originally produced for mobility applications, so are great for when space is limited. Finally, if none of these seem to fit your needs then we offer bespoke hydraulic powerpacks ensuring your application gets the hydraulic powerpack it requires.
Finally, who is the genius behind hydraulic powerpacks?
The man behind hydraulics was Laissez Pascal. A French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher who lived in the mid seventeenth century. Pascal made observations about fluid and pressure which led to Pascal’s law. Pascal's law states that when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container. Hydraulic powerpacks have been designed based on Pascal's law of physics, drawing their power from ratios of area and pressure.
So, interested in our Power Packs? Come on over to the main website and see what we can do for your Hydraulic Power Pack Needs .
So, yes, in answer to the original question, hydraulic power packs can be built to be more energy efficient and we take a look at more of the areas that can be improved below:
There are a number of crucial components that, when set up correctly can greatly maximise efficiency and reduce the systems energy footprint whilst in operation. As mentioned above, if a correctly sized hydraulic pump is implemented it will substantially reduce the load and heat levels of a hydraulic system especially if it is running in hostile and high load environmental conditions.
The displacement of the pump can be varied to control the amount of hydraulic fluid that is pumped per revolution of the shaft. In addition to the pumps themselves, compensator circuits are available which can shadow copy the systems flow parameters thus ensuring there isn’t excess heat build-up.
As touched upon at the start of the article, the placement of the hydraulic system is crucial to ensure it doesn’t overheat, become contaminated in hostile environments and remains easily serviceable should any issues or breakages occur with the system, so engineers can access affected areas with ease so operations can get up-and-running again quickly.
Any hydraulic system should ideally be placed in a well ventilated area and away from other units especially those that generate a lot of heat as this can negatively affect another unit in close proximity.
As well as the system and its components, the quality of electricity supply to the building the power unit is situated in should be adequate to supply the system as any system spikes or other anomalies can greatly jeopardise the efficiency of the system and could potentially cause outages or production stops.
As recently as a decade ago virtual reality experiences were limited to flight and helicopter simulators, with no chance for the average person to try it out. These simulators still exist and have become more and more technically advanced as graphics improve, but the old and new all have one thing in common – hydraulics.
Hydraulic rams move the simulator, in response to the actions of the person “flying”, which creates a very realistic experience for the trainee pilot. Having this level of virtual reality prepares them for the real world and the feelings of actually piloting an aeroplane or a helicopter. Some simulator manufacturers have trialled electric actuators, but these have their limitations on the amount of weight they can effectively move. Hydraulically operated simulators are more responsive and realistic than those which use electrical actuators.
Virtual reality hardware is now available at a price point where many consumers can afford to buy a virtual reality headset, and experience the amazing visual and acoustic landscapes created by games designers. It is only a matter of time before virtual reality computer games become the norm; and to truly experience the fictional reality created by the game designers a player will need to experience not only realistic sound and images, but movement too. Gaming chairs already exist to make the computer game playing all the more realistic, but these are generally limited to vibrating along with explosions or other effects in the game. The next generation of gaming chair could be a hybrid between the flight simulator and comfortable chair.
The weight of the chair and the average person can be easily moved using micro hydraulic power packs which can affect movement in two directions, allowing the chair to rise and fall with input from the game activity defining what moves, when it moves and how much it moves. Reversible micro power packs could be mounted at each corner of the seat base, allowing for tipping forwards, backwards and side to side, as well as recreating rolling sensations that could mimic the action of the sea. Using these tiny hydraulic power packs means they can be easily installed in the chair without it being bulky and obvious, and they pack quite a punch, capable of operating at pressures of up to 200 bar.
These micro power packs are already used for wheelchair lifts, bath lifts and other mobility products, so the efficiency in moving human weight is already tried and tested. The actual programming of the hydraulic system, to recreate the movement happening in the game accurately, will be a big job – there can only be a few pre-set movements at certain points in the game, as each player will make different choices and may not trigger movement at places where others do. It would be quite a challenge to program one hydraulic motor to act on game input, but when you consider that four must be programmed, and each one will be moving in a different direction, it becomes a very complex task. Flight simulator programmers would be the ideal people to lead the way on designing a new generation of computer gaming chairs, as they have experience of multi-directional movement programming already.
It's quite staggering to think that only 25 years ago computer games came on a floppy disk, with very basic graphics and a theme to match them. Nowadays there is a whole generation of people who never experienced floppy disks, or had to wait for the monitor to warm up before playing virtual tennis, which just makes it all the more staggering to think how far we have come in such a short space of time. How long will it be before the hydraulically operated virtual reality gaming chair becomes the next must-have product?
Hydraulic power packs, such as the ones supplied by Hydraproducts, are a vital part of the construction industry. With a huge push on new home building across the country, it is a daily occurrence to see heavy plant equipment moving earth and preparing groundworks for construction. All of these ‘earth moving’ machines use hydraulic power to effect motion in the moving parts, with hydraulic rams serving as the muscles of the machine to raise and lower a digging arm, or to move large pipes into place for infrastructure development.
Hydraulic power packs allow the machinery to generate more power in the moving parts than if just the engine power alone was directly driving the hydraulics, so they mean a smaller excavator can move as much as a larger one without the need for that extra space. On new build sites, there is a lot of space to start with, so there is no issue with the largest machinery manoeuvring around the site. When houses start to go up and roads are installed, there is less machinery space and it makes sense to use a smaller version of a particular machine that has the same power capabilities.
A hydraulic power pack can also reduce the amount of fuel used to drive the hydraulic components, as most heavy earth moving equipment has a range of modes that can be selected to give the right amount of power while remaining economical. Digging out large amounts of earth will use a lot of power, and this can be increased above the machinery capacity by using a hydraulic power pack. Fine grading of embankments, or excavating over mains power, gas or sewage pipes requires a fine degree of control that is best achieved at a lower power. Hydraulic power packs can help to control this when used in combination with the modes available on the machinery itself. The effect is a reduction in fuel used to generate the hydraulic power and a considerable cost saving over the lifespan of a project.
Because the earth moving equipment uses hydraulics there is no need to employ a separate engineer to maintain and repair the hydraulic power packs as they use the same technology, so there is no extra cost in maintenance terms, just the cost of the power pack. When considering this investment, it is important to understand that the better control leads to improved productivity and workforce morale, as well as a lower outlay on fuel.
Hydraulic power packs are not confined to use in the preparatory stages of a large building project, however, they are also used to work cranes, that lift roof struts into place; in forklifts, that move materials around the site and even in concrete pumping machines, that are used to lay floors and external hard standing surfaces. Hydraproducts are very happy to work with equipment manufacturers to find or design the perfect hydraulic power pack for the construction industry.
As you are aware we love hydraulic power, we wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t. But, today we wanted to write an article on some of our favourite machines that are powered by hydraulic powerpacks. We have told you before that the world is a better place because of hydraulic powerpacks, and today we are going to prove it.
Firstly we have chosen to look at how hydraulic powerpacks help the everyday mechanic.
In the UK, there are as many as 36 million cars registered on the roads. At many points during a cars life, they will need to visit a garage. Hydraulic lifts are vital for mechanics to see and get under your car and our hydraulic powerpacks can easily connect to your mechanics lift, providing all the power it needs to lift up your car. This in turn not only makes a mechanics job much easier, but it also means your car has been thoroughly checked over. Thanks to hydraulic power your car will spend a minimal amount of time out of action.
What do farmers, firemen and fruit pickers all have in common? Well, firstly they all begin with F, they’re all hard grafters but the most important similarity is that they all work with some pretty cool machines on a daily basis. I mean if they didn’t then how would farmers harvest potatoes, firemen rescue people who are stuck at the top of burning buildings and how would fruit pickers pick fruit from the highest trees? Thanks to the machinery they use (which are all powered by a hydraulic power unit), their jobs are made so much easier.
So what is a hydraulic power unit?
In a nutshell, a hydraulic power unit is a mechanism that transforms one form of energy into a fluid form. The hydraulic power unit is capable of moving the fluid, if the fluid reaches obstacles it pressurises and is then capable of mechanical force. The power transported by the fluid is then used to power machinery and it could easily lift a car or a tree.
What affects a hydraulic power unit’s performance?
Some important elements that impact the performance of a hydraulic power unit are the reservoir volume, power capability and pressure limits. Its physical size and pumping strength also play a part in its performance.
Who relies on hydraulic power units?
As we have already mentioned hydraulic power units are used by a variety of industries across the globe. Commonly they can be seen powering machinery in the construction, automotive, manufacturing and entertainment industry and the power supplies vary depending on the machine it needs to work with.
In everyday life you may be surprised at the amount of machines powered by hydraulic power units, that help society function that little bit better. From bin men and their garbage trucks, to fairground rides that we like to enjoy, hydraulics is a big part of our life and most of us don’t even realise. All the drivers among also use the power of hydraulics whenever we brake.
After this article, I'm sure you would agree with us when we say that hydraulics are pretty impressive.
Hydraulic Power Pack
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