The hydraulics industry has benefited greatly from technological advances in recent years. Hydraulic systems are used in many different industries, including construction. When the efficiency of construction projects improves, projects are completed faster and more money is saved.
The following advancements in hydraulics directly contribute to a higher level of efficiency in the construction industry.
- Quick couplers for pressurized connections
Quick couplers are designed to make changing attachments fast and easy. However, sometimes quick couplers can’t serve their intended purpose due to excess pressure in the system.
Hydraulic equipment is under constant pressure, and sometimes extreme pressure. In these closed hydraulic circuits, a simple change in heat can increase the internal pressure of the fluid even when a machine isn’t in use. This pressure creates resistance that makes it impossible to couple male and female connections.
Being unable to connect couplers is a huge problem when machine operators need to change attachments. Operators need to manually relieve the pressure, which isn’t necessarily safe.
To solve this problem, Stucchi USA created threaded, flat face quick couplings that utilize an internal valve system to relieve the pressure and allow for fast connections. Stucchi’s proprietary system is patented, and solves the problem of residual pressure once and for all.
- Environmentally-friendly hydraulic fluids
Although environmentally-friendly hydraulic fluid has been around for some time, these fluids are continually being improved. Today, it’s possible to get several types of biodegradable fluids including:
- Hydraulic Environmental Triglyceride (HETG) fluid. These fluids are biodegradable, non-toxic, and water-insoluble made from Canola, sunflower, and soybean oils. While they provide good lubrication, they get gummy under high temperatures and turn to gel under low temperatures.
- Hydraulic Environmental Ester (HEES) fluid. Although not as biodegradable as HETG fluids, HEES fluids are a second-best choice to maintain lubrication under extreme heat or cold. These fluids are made from petroleum and various vegetable oils.
- Hydraulic Environmental Poly Glycol (HEPG) fluid. This fluid is fire-resistant and can be found in both water-soluble and water-insoluble forms. These can be used in temperatures ranging from -20 to 80 degrees Celsius.
- Hydraulic Environmental Polyalphaolefin (HEPR) fluid. HEPR fluids are synthetic, water-insoluble hydrocarbon fluids that can be used from -30 to 100 degrees Celsius.
The benefits of using environmentally-friendly, biodegradable hydraulic fluid are vast. Of course, the biggest benefit is lessening the environmental impact of a leak or spill. This includes less damage to ground water systems, lakes, oceans, rivers, and wildlife.
A lighter impact on the earth and wildlife in the event of a spill also mitigates the impact on the company that caused the leak or spill. For example, the EPA hands out massive fines to companies that spill toxic substances into bodies of water and on land. However, those fines aren’t as severe when the spilled substance is environmentally-friendly.
The other benefit is that companies using environmentally-friendly hydraulic fluid will be seen as responsible, which helps boost their public image and reputation.
- Backhoe-loader hydraulic systems
Advancements in hydraulic power are being applied to backhoe-loader systems. One such system is called Pro Control, which uses hydraulics to create a more precise boom swing, which saves the operator from having to correct the overswing.
Another system by the same company called Power Lift utilizes hydraulic power to increase lifting capabilities. Yet another system called Power Boost supplies a burst of increased power in the moment when needed.
- Excavators with hydraulic systems
Although it’s not a direct advancement in hydraulics, there are hydraulic excavators that have been upgraded with some majorly useful features. For instance, the Marubeni-Komatsu line of excavators just unveiled machines that use 13% less fuel. The new auto-idle shutdown system will turn off the engine, set the parking brake, and set the hydraulic lock automatically according to the time limit set by the operator.
Some hydraulic advancements come at a price
While there are myriad advancements in hydraulics that make machine operations easier and faster, there are a few concerns. For example, companies that aim to make high pressure systems function for long periods of time under extreme heat are playing with danger.
Companies and individuals using hydraulics equipment need to discern the unsafe advances from the positive, beneficial advances. Just because continuous operation in high heat is possible doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe. No matter what advancements claim, caution and common sense should be used at all times.