Hydraulic equipment is more common than you might think in the world’s industries, and is not limited to the heavy machinery you think of on construction sites, or on the big earth-movers which are found on huge development projects. In fact, hydraulic equipment has applications in a great many industries, because some very physical work can be accomplished simpler and safer when using hydraulic equipment.
Many successful business operations have focused on hydraulic repair services, such as Sapphire Hydraulics located in Houston, TX. Companies like this serve a critical role in repairing and maintaining essential hydraulic equipment used so often around the world, today.
What are Hydraulics?
Hydraulics systems are based on a scientific principle known as Pascal’s Principle, which states that when pressure is applied to an incompressible liquid, that pressure must be distributed equally throughout the liquid. This means that the amount of pressure which is exerted on one end of a fluid system must be equal to the desired pressure on the other end, which is where a hydraulic cylinder containing a piston and piston rod will be emplaced. This allows for heavy work to be done much more easily, by taking advantage of the fact that these fluids cannot be compressed, and that pressure will remain equal at both ends of the pressurized system.
Which Industries Use Hydraulics?
You may not have thought about this, but the automotive industry is one of the biggest users of hydraulic systems, and this is true in several different ways. First of all, hydraulics are used in the actual manufacturing process in factories around the globe. Then too, automobiles require hydraulic brakes, hydraulic motors, and hydraulic pumps to accomplish their full range of functionality. Additionally, when you take your car in for repairs, a hydraulic lift will elevate the car so that the undercarriage can be accessed.
The landscaping industry makes extensive use of hydraulics as well, relying on such heavy equipment as excavators, steer loaders, and bulldozers which move dirt, gravel, clay, and mulch. The construction industry makes extensive use of hydraulic equipment, and you’ll commonly see on any construction site several backhoes, excavators, and bulldozers, all of which turn huge jobs into manageable jobs with their extraordinary capabilities.
The entertainment industry is a surprisingly common user of hydraulic equipment, since hydraulic platforms are used to raise a stage up and down, to provide special effects, and to create specialized sets for filming. Hydraulic-powered amusement rides are everywhere in the amusement parks which people love to visit, with many of those rides being driven by the power of hydraulics.
In addition to the everyday applications for hydraulic systems, there are a number of industries which are heavily dependent on custom hydraulics to keep their equipment running smoothly. In the marine industry, ocean-going vessels rely on hydraulics for navigation, especially when executing turns. In the agricultural industry, some of the supersized harvesting equipment relies on custom hydraulics components to carry out their assigned tasks. In far more industries than most people are generally aware of, hydraulic systems come into play, and are major factors in accomplishing difficult tasks.
As mentioned above, the automotive industry is one which not only makes extensive use of hydraulic systems, but employees hydraulics in virtually every phase of manufacture and finished usage. A great deal of hydraulic equipment is necessary during the manufacture of automobiles, because heavy parts must be moved from one place to another, and this is an ideal application for hydraulics equipment.
When a car has been completely assembled and is ready to roll off the assembly line, it will include several distinct hydraulic systems which are necessary for operation. All repair shops which accomplish automobile servicing are equipped with a number of hydraulic lifts, which are powerful enough to elevate a car weighing thousands of pounds, so it can be worked on by a mechanic.
The aerospace industry relies on hydraulics for several of the systems included on airplanes, for instance in the takeoff and landing gear. These are very heavy components which could only be retracted and emplaced by the use of powerful hydraulics. Without hydraulic systems being used on airplanes, it would not be possible to transfer a large number of people from one place to another through the air. Fortunately, hydraulics makes all this much easier and can accommodate the requirements of air travel quite nicely.
It’s very common to see heavy equipment on a construction site, because there are a great many heavy tasks which need to be accomplished, and which can only be done by hydraulic-powered equipment. Bulldozers are the best machinery to use for moving earth at the beginning of a construction project, and for stockpiling topsoil.
Backhoes are needed to dig trenches for connecting sewer lines and water lines, and they are also used for loading dump trucks full of gravel, dirt, and stone, so that they can be transported to a desired location. If there were no hydraulic equipment on a construction site, it could take weeks for workers to accomplish the same tasks which are routinely done in an hour or two by hydraulic-powered equipment.
Agriculture is another industry which benefits tremendously by using hydraulic-powered equipment, and without it, many of the tasks which are necessary would take much longer to accomplish, and would require additional personnel. One simple example of a critical usage of hydraulic equipment is in the three-point hitch, which is used for attaching accessories such as plows to a large tractor.
The three-point hitch includes hydraulic cylinders that facilitate the movement of arms so any accessory can be easily attached. Tractors themselves are commonly equipped with high-lift arms that make it possible to load silage into bins for cattle, and to accomplish a number of other critical tasks on the farm.
Chances are, any movie which you have seen recently was made easier to film because it relied on hydraulic systems to accomplish the filming. The apparatus which smoothly moves a camera around a set relies on hydraulics, so that it can position the camera close to the action. A number of special effects which you routinely see in movies are the result of custom-built hydraulic systems which operate behind-the-scenes.
For instance, the 1976 movie ‘King Kong’ relied extensively on an electro-hydraulics system to accomplish all the movements necessary for the star of the movie, King Kong. If you’ve ever wondered about how the Wicked Witch disappears so quickly in The Wizard of Oz, the effect was accomplished through her being lowered beneath the set by a hydraulic system, as a puff of green smoke covered her disappearance.