Hydraulics aren’t specific to one machine or industry, they’re all around us. From braking systems in cars to construction equipment and even dishwashers, these systems are part of our everyday lives. But what exactly are hydraulics? In this article, we’ll look at what makes up a hydraulics system and how they work.
What Are Hydraulics?
The term hydraulics refers to how liquids function. In every type of hydraulic machine, liquid fluid power is put under high pressure and used to perform work.
A simple hydraulic system works by a liquid inside a contained system being pushed from one side to the other. The pressure forces it to push against a piston and move it upwards to lift something. For example, in the case of construction equipment such as forklifts and cranes, hydraulics are used to lift and lower different objects.
The pressure applied to the liquid will only move it in one direction, meaning that it won’t flow backwards. This means that whatever the piston is operating or lifting will be secure until the system pressure is released.
What Makes Up A Hydraulic System?
There are many types and functions of hydraulic systems but each one will contain the same main parts –
- A reservoir which holds hydraulic fluid.
- A hydraulic pump which moves liquid through a system and transforms mechanical energy into hydraulic fluid power.
- An electric motor which powers the hydraulic piston pump.
- Control valves which manage the flow of the liquid and release excessive pressure when needed.
- A hydraulic cylinder that converts hydraulic energy back into mechanical energy.
What Liquids Are Used In Hydraulic Systems?
The liquids used in hydraulic systems vary depending on the machine and its function. Sometimes it is water that is used but actually other liquids work much better. This is because as well as transferring energy, they also lubricate the system and are self-cleaning.
Other liquids that can be used are oil-based fluids and synthetic fluids. This article explains in more detail why it’s important to carefully consider the characteristics of different liquids before making a final selection for a hydraulic system.
Where Are Hydraulic Systems Used?
Believe it or not, hydraulics are all around us. You will find them used in –
- Cars use a hydraulic braking system that uses brake fluid to transfer pressure onto a braking pad. This then presses onto the axel and stops the vehicle.
- Forklifts use hydraulics to lift load-bearing prongs off of the ground and hold a load in the air while the forklift moves. For example, to move pallets.
- Funfair rides are powered by hydraulic systems rigged in their engines.
- Lifts rely on hydraulic mechanisms like pistons and cylinders to move up and down between building floors.
Hydraulic systems are fairly low-cost and work so well in many different industries. They have made many aspects of our lives so convenient, it’s hard to imagine what could replace them.