The fundamentals of hydraulic systems 

Hydraulic systems are a cornerstone of modern engineering, powering a wide range of machinery and equipment. Understanding the principles that govern these systems is essential for engineers and technicians across various industries. Power Team SA understands the “behind-the-scenes” workings of a hydraulic system but recommends that those who use them should be informed as well.   

A hydraulic system is a mechanical technology that uses a fluid, usually oil, to transmit power and control the movement of various components. It can be found in applications in various industries ranging from manufacturing and construction to aerospace and automotive. 

There are many advantages to using a hydraulic system: 

High Power Density: Hydraulic systems can generate a large amount of force in a compact space, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications. 

Precise Control: They allow for precise control of speed, force, and position, crucial in applications where accuracy is paramount. 

Safety and Reliability: Hydraulic systems are robust and can operate in harsh environments, making them reliable for critical tasks. 

Variable Power Transmission: The power output can be easily adjusted, allowing for versatility in different applications. 

When thinking of a hydraulic system, it is important to recognise its components and their functions. Power Team SA is available to assist with all hydraulic components and provide the one most suitable to the equipment and its functions: 

Hydraulic fluid serves as the medium for power transmission. It should have properties like high compressibility, low viscosity, and excellent lubrication capabilities. Commonly used fluids include mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids. 

The hydraulic pump is responsible for generating flow within the system. It converts mechanical energy (usually from an electric motor or an engine) into hydraulic energy by pressurizing the fluid. 

Actuators are devices that use the pressurized hydraulic fluid to perform mechanical work. The two primary types are: 

Linear actuators (cylinders) produce linear motion. 

Rotary actuators (motors) generate rotational motion. 

Hydraulic Circuits are available in two different systems: 

Open-centre system: The fluid circulates freely in the system when no work is being done. It’s economical but less efficient. 

Closed-centre system: The fluid remains pressurised, even when no work is being done. It’s more energy-efficient but requires more complex control. 

Control valves regulate the flow and pressure of hydraulic fluid within the system. They come in various types, including directional control valves, pressure control valves, and flow control valves. 

When using hydraulic equipment, it is important to maintain the components to avoid unnecessary damage and cost. Power Team SA points out the following maintenance related issues and solutions: 

Fluid contamination: Maintaining clean hydraulic fluid is vital for the proper operation of a hydraulic system. Contamination can lead to component wear and reduced efficiency. 

Preventive maintenance: Regular inspections, fluid analysis, and component checks are essential for preventing unexpected failures and ensuring the longevity of the system. 

Troubleshooting common issues: Understanding common problems like leaks, overheating, and loss of power can help in diagnosing and resolving issues quickly. 

Mastering the fundamentals of hydraulic systems empowers engineers to design and maintain efficient, reliable machinery. With a solid understanding of the components, circuits, and principles, it is possible to harness the immense power and versatility that hydraulic systems offer across various industries.  

Contact Power Team SA for any hydraulic related queries. With years of experience and reliability Power Team SA are on hand to tackle any hydraulic issue you may be experiencing.