Contact Us 813-676-3080

Hydraulics 101: The Basics of Hydraulics

Hydraulics power many of the large machines you see around you in your everyday life. Understanding hydraulics is crucial when working with the basic components. When properly maintained, hydraulic systems offer great performance and reliability.

What are hydraulics?

In simple terms, hydraulics can be defined as a mechanical function that operates through the force of liquid pressure. Hydraulic systems utilize compressed fluids to transfer force applied at one point to another point. Hydraulic pumps are responsible for transferring that fluid from a reservoir throughout the hydraulic system. That movement increases energy by creating more pressure. That pressure is then diverted to the motor, which provides the power.

What are the main components used in hydraulics?

While there are many components that can be used in hydraulics, the pump, valves, motor, filter, cylinders, fluid, and hoses are all crucial factors.

  • Pumps: Known as the heart of the hydraulic system, pumps are sources of power for many dynamic machines and can push large amounts of oil through hydraulic cylinders or hydraulic motors.
  • Valves: Valves are used to control the direction, pressure, and flow rate of a fluid flowing through the circuit. There are several different types of valves to choose from – pressure relief valves, pressure reducing valves, unloading valves and counterbalance valves.
  • Motors: The mechanical hydraulic actuator that converts hydraulic energy or hydraulic pressure into torque and angular displacement/rotation. The motor is required to drive the pump.
  • Filters: Filters are used in hydraulic systems to remove foreign particles and to help purify the fluid.
  • Cylinders: A cylinder is the mechanical hydraulic actuator that converts hydraulic energy or hydraulic pressure into linear displacement.
  • Hoses: Hoses are used to connect separate components like pumps, motors, cylinders, etc. and transfer the fluid between them.

What can hydraulics do?

This list could go on and on but to keep it short, hydraulics provide ways of moving heavier loads as well as providing greater force than mechanical, electrical or pneumatic systems. Hydraulics are used in many industries including agriculture, aerospace, entertainment, automobile, and manufacturing.

Do hydraulics need to be maintained?

Maintaining your hydraulics is very important. Fluid levels and filters should be inspected regularly and replaced if necessary. Doing entire system inspections on a regular basis is also recommended. During these inspections, search for cracks, fissures, or wearing in the components, like the rubber hoses and valves. This can help reduce your risk of costly malfunctions and repairs down the line.

What are the most common causes of hydraulic system failures?

Air and water contamination are the leading causes of hydraulic failure, accounting for 80 to 90% of hydraulic failures. Faulty pumps, system breaches or temperature issues often cause both types of contamination. Performing regular maintenance inspections will help mitigate these failures.

GCC’s reputation for developing quality, durable applications have been proven time and time again, by the innovative ways we enhance productivity and efficiency in your design. With our superior products and technical expertise, we deliver a result that is tailored to your project needs. Our fluid power certified sales staff can work as an extension of your engineering team and provide you with the value-added solutions you need. Contact us to get started with your next project.