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A good question! And one that many hydraulic enthusiasts and experts alike have posed in recent times.
Hydraulic power’s main industry competitor is pneumatics, which uses gas or pressurised air rather than fluid which hydraulic applications use. While pneumatics is a clean system to use in general as it makes use of air, it is limited in its power range compared to hydraulics, which deal with heavy loads in particular, a lot more easily. This gives it the advantage in applications such as commercial vehicle tilting bodies and lifts among others. This is down to the hydraulic oil used being non compressible so a smooth hydraulic action can be achieved whereas air can fluctuate due to differing environmental conditions.
Where safety in concerned, hydraulics come out on top as the fluid used is stored energy and any leaks and other issues can be easily identified whereas with pneumatics, compressed air can cause issues when it builds up and has the potential to cause an explosion.
Talking of leaks, hydraulics has also moved forwards leaps and bounds in terms of tackling leakage with more secure hose locking mechanisms and better safety measures in general. The same is true for motion controllers as modern systems act smoothly and effectively to reduce any system shocks that could potentially occur.
Pressure control is another area that has seen large improvements over the years with loads being controlled more effectively and taking over from relief valves that, while effective in their own right, struggled to deal with pressure spikes which could adversely affect system operation.
So overall, the worries that concerted a number of doubters as to the effectiveness of hydraulic power today are unfounded and it remains a main player in a number of crucial industries and this looks set to continue long into the future.
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 .
Hydraulics has been around for a very long time. But are you aware of how far it has actually come? You wouldn’t be alone if you responded with no. It is a very technical subject that can be quite difficult to understand, but in this article we want to tell you the story of hydraulics! We want to share with you who discovered hydraulics, what it was originally used for and how hydraulic power got to where it is today.
So why don’t we start at the beginning! Where does the word hydraulic come from?
The word hydraulic originates from the Greek word ‘Hydros’ which means water. Why water? Well, this is because water was the first liquid to be used in the hydraulic system. Today, hydraulics includes the physical behaviour of all liquids, not just water.
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.
Hi Everyone, here Hydra Products we have decided to start utilising our Blog more to keep you up to date, informed, and hopefully occasionally amused by our ramblings! There’s lot’s more to come but just to make sure we’re all starting on the right page we thought we’d better just give you a very brief history of Hydraulic power...
Water has played a huge part in the advancement of mankind and has been a powerful source for us to harness for thousands of years, right up to present day. Harnessing the power of water has enabled us to carve out a living using water wheels: to produce our food, tools, wood, clothes, paper, iron, marble, cotton and wool. Today, “fluid power” or hydraulic power relies on pressurized fluid in order to produce power. It’s all around us, in everyday objects, but if we look back in time, it was a while before it was used the way it is today.
In Imperial Rome, water was used to power mills to produce flour, saw stone and timber. In Britain, water was used to extract lead from tin ore in a process known as “hushing”. Many years later this was developed into hydraulic mining which was used during the California Gold Rush.
In 1648, a young French mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal, made a discovery that was to become known as Pascal’s Law. Through his works he realised that “pressure exerted anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted equally in all directions throughout the fluid such that the pressure variations (initial differences) remain the same”. This laid the groundwork for further insights into how fluids could be harnessed for energy and in 1738, Daniel Bernoulli first formulated what was to become known as Bernoulli’s Principle which describes the behaviour of a fluid under different conditions of flow and height. This was later used in the network of high pressured water pipes between various generating stations which used steam driven pumps and mills that required power, allowing power to be transmitted over larger distances. Unfortunately this particular project did not continue for long as the development of electricity was found to be a far more convenient and, at the time, a much more suitable way of powering devices.
It was towards the end of the eighteenth century (1795) when Joseph Bramah, patented the hydraulic press. It was based on Pascal’s Law which formed the groundwork for the science of hydraulics. Not long after, the Americans developed the technique of producing electricity using hydropower and hydraulic power plants began to be built. Once the industrial revolution had firmly established itself, engineers and industrialists across the world realised they could utilise Bernouilli’s principles but on a much bigger scale. In the late 19th century, the first hydropower scheme was pioneered by William George Armstrong whom many see as the grandfather of Hydraulic Power (along with Joseph Bramah). A keen fisherman, after spending the day fishing and looking at the watermill, Armstrong decided that it wasn’t the most efficient way of harnessing energy. Upon returning home, he set about designing a rotary engine that was to be powered by water. When nobody showed any interest in it, he set about a redesign, and ended up with a piston engine. This led to the development of hydraulic power-pipe networks (with hydraulic power pipes being used to carry pressurised liquid to transmit mechanical power from a main power source) which were used to power cranes throughout Britain’s cities and also in Geneva, Switzerland. As time has gone on we have seen the development of different hydraulic parts including seals, control values and accumulators, all of which have lead to further uses of hydraulic power.
Today there are many different forms of hydraulic power and water power that are currently being used or developed. The majority of them generate electricity but there are a few that are mechanical. We see examples of hydraulic power in use all around us today and probably the best place to see it at work would be on a building site: diggers, cranes, bulldozers and all kinds of heavy equipment vehicles rely on power from hydraulic drives to ensure they have the power to get the job done! A hydraulic drive is a device that uses pressurised fluid in order to drive the machinery and it is made up of many components, of which an important one is the hydraulic pump which can have a power density of up to 10 times that of an electric motor. It’s not surprising that we are still harnessing the power of these incredible pieces of engineering more than 200 years after they were first conceived!
Hydraulic power is currently being developed further year after year. It will be extremely interesting to see what the developments will be in the future.
Having spent over two decades developing a wide range of appropriate hydraulic power units, we have been told by our customers that our hydraulic power units are on point. Not only are they well thought out but they are maintenance friendly, efficient and leak proof. Each one is designed using the most advanced 3D modelling in combination with reliable fluid power analysis tools.
Our hydraulic power units range from micro sized to no-nonsense 375kW systems that are used offshore in the subsea oil and gas industry. Hydraulic power units are often used for serious hard core roles. After all, what else can perform such feats as pulling cars out of canyons, moving massive volumes of earth or lifting giant trees? The only machines that can are hydraulic power units that can convert the movement of liquid into mechanical force.
Power units are actually fairly simple. Their task is to pressurise fluid so that it can perform tasks such as those mentioned above. The fluid is then pushed along through a series of values as it cannot be compressed, so any pressure will cause it to move. At the end of the line, it will go into a piston which will extend as it fills and this is where the magic happens. A giant boulder is lifted up from a river bed or a disabled person’s wheelchair is lifted onto a bus. There are no end to the possible applications of hydraulic power.
Here’s an introduction to our range of hydraulic power units and examples of how they can be used in factories and out in the field:
Standard Hydraulic Power units
The most common requirements are satisfied by these workhorse power units. They offer AC motors up to 30kW and can produce flows up to 100 litres per minute. Holding up to 180 litres in the reservoir and producing hydraulic pressures of up to 250 bar, these machines are used across all manner of industries.
Easy to configure, assemble and maintain, these HPUs are often used for any application that needs a dependable source of power. Industrial machine applications include punching machines, niche areas such as charcoal drying drums and performing any lifting duties.
Mini Hydraulic Power Units
The little brother of the standard isn’t workshy either. Expect AC and DC hydraulic power units that product 30 litres per minute with reservoirs that can hold up to 100 litres and produce 250 bar pressure. These are the machines that can handle up to 5.5 kW.
Our customers find that our mini hydraulic power unit is perfect for a range of applications such as cardboard compacting machines, climbing walls, car park access control equipment and machine tool clamps. They have been designed for easy maintenance and deliver years of trouble free operation. Some of our customers use them on applications that have produced over 1 million operations.
Micro Hydraulic Power units
The smallest of our everyday offerings can still deliver serious power. Although it may have only an 89 mm wide footprint, this little beast is able to handle both reversible and uni-directional work, depending on what you need. DC motors range from 150 to 800 watts and the AC goes from 150 to 275 Watts with flow rates of 5 litres per minute. Hydraulic pressures of 200 bar are the norm.
Perfect for those applications where hydraulic power is needed but the space is limited. For example, our customers have fitted these to step lifts, wheelchair lifts and on through-floor lifts. Although they were originally designed for mobility applications, they have been found to be ideal for wider use including unmanned operations of pipeline control valves to tasks such as lifting glass into place on tall buildings.
Bespoke Hydraulic Products and Systems
Whatever you need, we can design it for you. We have already produced a broad array of hydraulic products that have been used for all manner or purposes across most industries.
Hydraulic power is still something that amazes us. When it comes to transmitting power, hydraulics offer the densest method of it. In the past, we’ve even developed a bespoke hydraulic power unit to flush out gearboxes in the pit garages of F1. You may not know it but next time you watch a movie and you see a full sized ship with rocking hulls on it, it could be one of our products that is creating that rock.
We enjoy solving hydraulic power challenges. If you have one and you don’t know quite how to solve it, contact us today and we’ll work with you to find a solution.
Throughout the history of automotive development hydraulics have played a critical role in the engineering of brakes, steering and gears, as well as suspension. Specialist functions on road going vehicles as well as vehicles designed for non-road use, such as tractors, other agricultural machinery and military vehicles, also use hydraulic power to effect movement of harvesting machinery, aerial ladders and artillery. Hydraulic engineering offers a tested and trusted way of effecting actions with a quick response time and most importantly, it is reliable, efficient, and easier to fix than electrical systems designed to do the same.
Electrical systems are becoming more commonplace in road going vehicles, as the move to all electric or hybrid powered cars starts to take off in the mainstream. Electric actuators are starting to replace their hydraulic equivalent in some systems, especially those from manufacturers who are pro-actively making advances in alternative car design; self-driving cars and fully electric vehicles are pushing electric actuators to the fore of the minds of automotive designers. The appeal to designers is the easy integration of electrical components into an existing electrical system; if most of the controls are electric rather than mechanical it makes sense to extend the same technology as far as possible. Electric actuators are cheaper, easier to control and generally last as well as hydraulic actuators, and it is far easier to work these into the wiring and software system of a vehicle than to install a separate hydraulic system just to run the brakes, or the gearbox.
Advanced braking systems are one of the more important uses of hydraulics in motor vehicles. Hydraulically operated brakes are much more responsive and deploy very quickly compared to electric brakes. Although there is an argument for electric motors being used to achieve regenerative braking in electric and hybrid vehicles, these systems still use hydraulics for the quick action that is required when the brake pedal is pressed. ABS systems also rely heavily on the speed with which hydraulic brakes act; a miniature hydraulic power pack controls the system to deploy the brakes up to sixteen times per second in a skid situation, a speed which cannot be achieved by electric actuators. Mechanical brakes have a strong future in motor vehicles for safety reasons, and this will remain the case until electric actuators can replicate the speed at which a hydraulic system can function.
Gearboxes have been hydraulically operated since the early 1940s, when General Motors introduced the technology to its range. Although they were first developed in the 1920s, it took a while for the new design to be accepted and fitted in the new cars they were producing, but very little has changed since, apart from the introduction of solenoid valves in the early 2000s. Electric systems are now integrated into the control of the gearbox, especially for the twin clutch, but the mechanics at the centre of gearbox function are still hydraulic. This is one of the areas in which electrics will really have to try hard to oust hydraulics, and the only way hydraulics will be replaced here, may be if an engine can be developed where a gearbox is no longer needed.
Motor vehicles have used hydraulic dampers in suspension systems since the humble leaf spring fell out of favour. Even though some modern suspension systems (which allow the driver to adjust the settings for a particular driving style or road type) use electrics to adjust the shock settings, it is still hydraulics that effects the suspension action. Even electric vehicles use hydraulic suspension, as it is the best solution, and despite some manufacturers looking to recover energy from bumps in the road through an electrical suspension system, the complexity of such a system is not worth the small amount of energy that may be recovered, and certainly not at the cost of replacing a very capable suspension solution with something more expensive and difficult to fix.
Power steering used to be a hydraulic aid to assist drivers in steering and parking; right up to the 1990s there were still cars on the road that did not have power steering and anyone who has ever driven one, will attest to the huge difference that power steering makes to the driver. The first power steering systems used hydraulic pumps to provide the driver with extra power, but these have long since been replaced with electric motors. Self-parking cars are already widely available and these would not be possible without electrically operated steering. Power assisted steering is one area where hydraulics has already fallen out of favour and electrics have taken over.
Hydraproducts' miniature and micro hydraulic power packs are ideal for the automotive industry, and are perfectly suited to use in suspension, braking and power steering systems. Although there are some areas of automotive engineering where electrics have taken over, the key areas mentioned above are safe for now. Other areas have seen a better integration of electric and hydraulic systems, with the benefits of each being user harmoniously to affect the best system possible. As new designers emerge into the automotive market and look to shake things up, we may see electrics replacing hydraulics at least in the design and testing stage, but the reliability and relative simplicity of hydraulics means it will always have a place in the automotive industry.
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