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How Hydraulic Systems Work

Posted: June 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hydraulic systems work by means of a simple principle, which states that pressure applied to a fluid that is confined will be transmitted throughout that fluid and will act on all parts of the vessel that enclose the fluid. This principle translates into a tremendous capacity to do work in a simple, efficient manner, without need for the intricate mechanical gearing, transmissions, and linkages you might otherwise require to accomplish the same amount of work.

hydraulic systemsForce Multiplier

Hydraulics work as a force multiplier. You put a certain amount of pressure in, then you get much more power out than you originally put into the system. The reason hydraulics work is due to the properties of liquid, which for practical use in hydraulic systems are usually a kind of oil. The fluid is virtually incompressible, which means that any force applied is transmitted throughout the fluid and that the transmitted energy can then be harnessed to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. The smaller pressure that is initially applied gets multiplied into a considerably larger force.

Components of a Hydraulic System

A basic hydraulic system has four components. The first is the reservoir, which contains the hydraulic fluid. The reservoir must also allow the settling of any contaminants and help to release moisture or air from the fluid. The second component, the pump, is where mechanical energy, provided by the motion of the hydraulic fluid, becomes hydraulic energy. The third component is comprised of the valves, which control the flow of the fluid. The final component, the actuators, is the place in the system where the hydraulic energy is transformed back into mechanical energy.

Practical Applications

Just imagine all the gearing and the transmission systems you would require to raise a bucket on a bucket truck if the vehicle were not equipped with a hydraulic system. The practical applications of hydraulic systems can be found in the raw power and work potential they provide to real world needs. The force multiplier aspect of hydraulics is a big part of the reason why the weight of a person’s foot on a brake pedal can bring a 3,000 pound car to a screeching halt. The principles of hydraulics make it simple to adjust the components of the system in order to obtain the power that is required for a particular machine or application.

When used on vehicles like bucket trucks to do load-lifting work, hydraulic systems have distinct advantages. They offer tremendous power, maneuverability, and flexibility, making them excellent systems for use in many applications across numerous industries.

Hydraulics In Action

Proper safety protocol includes inspecting a bucket truck prior to getting started with a job. Each day before the truck is put to work, its operator must examine its components and make sure that the truck can function properly and safely. Visual inspections must be done of the boom and the bucket, as well as the hydraulic system of the truck.

new and used Altec BucketThe Boom and the Bucket

First, an operator needs to inspect the boom and the bucket to make sure that the fiberglass components are in good shape. The fiberglass components are vital, since they work to insulate operators, helping to protect them when they are working with energized power lines and other equipment. The fiberglass on the boom and the bucket should not be cracked, nor should it exhibit crazing, a pattern of cracks that can result when the boom or the bucket impacts another object.

Take time, as well, to clean the boom and the bucket with a cloth that’s approved by the equipment manufacturer. Wiping surfaces clean and making sure they are free of dirt and debris can help reduce the ability of current to energize these surfaces. Last but not least, make sure that none of the parts and components that make up the boom and the bucket are rusted or loose.

The Hydraulic System

Next, an operator needs to conduct a visual inspection of the truck’s hydraulic system. The hoses should be carefully checked for leaks as well as for wear and tear that could compromise function. The ground underneath the truck should be examined, as well, to see whether there are leaks. The hydraulic fluid should be checked, both to ensure that it’s at the appropriate level and also to make sure that it doesn’t contain contaminants which could interfere with the system and indicate a problem with components getting bound up.

Contaminants in the hydraulic fluid could cause the fluid to conduct electricity, as in the case of metal shavings. Visual inspection of the fluid is also important in that its appearance can serve as a clue that something is wrong. If the hydraulic oil appears milky, then moisture is present in the fluid, which could also cause it to become conductive.

Visual inspections of a bucket truck are a crucial part of safety checks before embarking on a job. Should a truck operator discover problems with the safe functioning of a vehicle, the situation should be reported to a supervisor. Either the truck should be repaired, or another truck should be assigned for the job.