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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 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.
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 .
There are a wide range of choices over an even wider range of budgets, but the right hydraulic oil will prolong your machine life and reduce your overall running costs.
Three initial questions must be answered:-
1) In what type of equipment will the hydraulic fluid be used?
2) How severe will the duty be?
3) What operating temperature and pressures will be experienced?
4) Environment food safe etc
Answers to these questions will lead to the primary choices of viscosity grade (VG) and hydraulic fluid types.
In what type of equipment will the hydraulic oils be used?
Selection of a hydraulic fluid with a viscosity that bests suits the system pump is a good place to start. Manufacturers will normally specify a range of oil viscosity. These will vary dependent upon the pump type. Vane pumps typically require 14-160 cSt, Piston pumps are more durable than a vane pump and require 10-160cSt. Gear pumps are the most tolerant to contamination and a conservative range would be 10-300cSt. Industrial machinery is typically designed to operate within a cleaner more stable environment, where outdoor and mobile applications will more likely have severe temperature variations, higher humidity and more demanding duty cycles.
How severe will the duty be?
Duty would normally be described by running time, environmental factors, likelihood of contamination ingress, maintenance arrangements etc.
Examples of Low/Medium/Heavy Duty would be:-
> 24 hours
Heavier duty demands will normally lead to the use of a mineral oil with a good additive package (such as a HVLP) to improve performance or the selection of a fully synthetic oil.
For hydraulic systems with high running times a fluid with a high viscosity index (VI>130) will avoid damage and breakdowns as it extends lifetime of hydraulic pumps and components.
What operating temperature and pressures will be experienced?
Where temperature extremes are large (below -5oC and above +60oC) and pressures above 250 bar the use of a fluid with a good mix of additives will be important. Mineral based oils (HM/HLP) will be sufficient in the most common applications as these often have anti-wear additives, oxidisation inhibitors and viscosity improvers. Fully synthetic oils will however out-perform mineral hydraulic oil ensuring that the viscosity and lubricity remains stable over a longer period.
Viscosity Grade (VG)
A hydraulic fluid has a low viscosity when it is thin and a high viscosity grade when it is thick. The viscosity reduces as the temperature rises and visa-versa. The hydraulic fluid must be thin enough to flow through the filter, inlet and return pipes without too much resistance. On the other hand, the hydraulic fluid must not be too thin, in order to avoid wear due to lack of lubrication and to keep internal leakage within limits. Viscosity grade is expressed at 40oC eg ISO46 which is an oil with a viscosity of 46 cSt measured at 40oC.
According to DINISO 2909 oil viscosity changes versus temperature, Viscosity Index (VI), is normally between 90-110. VI above 130 are largely insensitive to temperature change.
A viscosity range of 12-80sCt is recommended for a large range of commercially used hydraulic equipment.
Hydraulic oil specifications
Hydraulic power packs can be used with a wide range of hydraulic oil grades, commonly:-
· Hydraulic Oil (ISO11158-HM) – Mineral based – hydraulic oil grades widely used in light duty applications where temperature and pressures are moderate.
· Hydraulic Oil (DIN51524-2-HLP) – Mineral based with additives for oxidation, corrosion and wear protection. Used for general applications where temperature and viscosity conditions are observed.
· Hydraulic Oil (51524-3-HVLP) – Premium grade mineral based as per HLP but with improved viscosity temperature behaviour (VI>140).
· Biodegradable hydraulic oil – HETG, HEPG, HEES and HEPR – A developing technology and is yet to replace mineral oils in all applications. Storage and service life is limited, particularly at elevated temperatures.
· Fire Resistant Fluids (ISO12922 – HFA, HFB, HFC and HFD) – HFA,HFB and HFC contain water solutions and must only be used with specifically designed products. Not suitable for systems containing aluminium and some paint products. Seal compatibility must be checked.
For Hydraproducts powerpacks we recommend the following:-
HPU and HPR Micro powerpacks
HPM Mini packs
HPS Standard Hydraulic power units
Some sources of these oils would be:-
HM32 – Shell Hydrau HM32 – Castrol Hyspin VG32
HLP32 – Shell Tellus 32 – Castol Hyspin AWS32
HVLP32 – Shell Tellus S3V 32 – Castrol Hyspin HVI 32
Where environmentally sensitive fluids are required the use of Castrol Carelube HES32 can be employed in all our products, for light and medium duty ONLY.
Where a small level of fire resistance desirable then the use of a Castrol Anvol SWX FM HFDU fluid may be implemented in all of our products, for light and medium duty ONLY.
As designers and manufacturers of the highest quality hydraulic parts we are very proud of our mini hydraulic power packs, which can be driven from 12 or 24-volt direct current (DC) supplies. Our OEM customers rely on our consistency and quality to build functional and reliable equipment, including tail lifts, tipper trucks and trailers. Typically, our 3kW output motor, which relies on a 24v DC supply, is used to raise and lower the ramps of trailers used to transport heavy equipment. The nature of the equipment using the ramp, means that the ramp itself must be sturdy in construction and therefore, quite heavy to lift. The 3kW mini power pack does this with ease, and is fan cooled to guard against overheating.
For more lightweight applications, such as tailgate lifts on commercial passenger vehicles, a smaller output is needed. For these uses a 12v mini hydraulic power pack is used, as the 12v motor can be wired into standard vehicle electrical circuits for tailgate lift functions. The 12v model is available with a 500W or 800W output, so the choice depends on the amount of power that is needed to drive the hydraulic pump in the system.
We manufacture our products to be compatible with all major brands of pumps and valves, so they can be used in any system where a new component is needed, or the system needs to be upgraded to handle a larger capacity. Our valves and other components we manufacture, are also designed to be used in a wide variety of systems, and with a global distribution network we can serve your DC hydraulic motor needs wherever you are.
Our mini hydraulic power packs may be small (around 16 inches long) but they are capable of packing a mighty punch; the model with most capacity is the 3kW, 24v model, but the 12v and 24v models have outputs between 0.5kW and 2kW. This is a wide range of strengths, allowing our customers to use the most efficient and appropriate motor for their needs. This range also means systems can be designed with the lowest possible power consumption across all parts, but with the most efficient hydraulic output of that power. System designers do not have to compromise on power because the ideal output size is not available. We do make bespoke components, so even if we don't have the exact off-the-shelf DC power pack you need, we can still make it happen for you.
Our micro hydraulic power packs are also a great option for when one of our mini power packs are too large for the space available. They are only 89mm square and can be discreetly installed in the moving arm of a security barrier or automatic gate system. The 0.5kW mini motor with 12v DC supply is often used for step lifts and other applications where the load to be moved is not too heavy, so step lifts and passenger lifts on small vans or taxis that will not be taking huge equipment, can be driven by one of these smaller motors. Running on a 12v DC supply means that the tail lift system can be seamlessly integrated into the electrical systems of the vehicle, and operated from the standard dashboard. The driver can raise or lower the lift from the comfort of the driver’s seat and not worry about having to use separate controls for this action.
If you are reading this as an OEM then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. If we haven't got your ideal component listed on our website, then we will be delighted to create a bespoke product that answers your problems, all manufactured on site in the UK. Call us today on 01452 523352
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.
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?
Ensuring you service system parts at correct intervals, ensures longevity and optimal system performance. As repairs can come at expensive prices, adhering to these intervals can prove cost effective in the long run and keep the production process running smoothly with no costly stops.
Filters are an essential part of the hydraulic system and help to keep the system clean by removing any clogging and other blockages which could lead to possible component or even complete system failure.
It is essential to change filters regularly and some machines come with built-in gauges which indicate when filters should be replaced. Manufacturer specified intervals should always be adhered to if unsure of the correct replacement schedule.
Fluids form the heart of any hydraulic system and it is vital that fluid quality levels are regularly monitored with replacement taking place at manufacturer specified intervals. It is recommended that new fluid be checked after 100 hours of operation and then replaced every 1,000 hours after that, unless manufacturer guidelines specifications differ from that number.
Correct operating temperature plays a big part in fluid quality and longevity, as if the fluid is allowed to get too hot, overheating can occur leading to component failures or worse. The ideal temperature for fluid should be in the region of 120-130 F and the machine should be left to run to operating temperature before the level is checked.
Over time, hoses will begin to degrade and it is essential that they are checked regularly for any splits, tears and monitored for pressure loss.
It is recommended that all hoses should be replaced after approximately 6 years of service regardless of any physical signs of deterioration as it is natural for rubber compounds to begin degrading around this period of time.
Another component to regularly check is the power pack housing as dirt, dust and foreign contaminants regularly build up on the housing and can cause problems such as interfering with heat transfer and issues with oil and fluid temperature control.
It is essential to regularly check and clean housing where necessary to ensure optimal system performance.
Implementing a maintenance schedule
The best way to ensure that you stay on top of system maintenance is to create a regular maintenance schedule so you can check all system components are operating correctly and within system tolerances. This makes it far less likely to miss any crucial areas of the system and will help lengthen the lifespan of the power pack.
Hydraulic Power Pack
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