FLUID POWER OVERVIEW
Welcome to the sixth edition of the Fluid Power Handbook. Every year, our editors strive to add to the great amount of information we’ve already accumulated on hydraulic and pneumatic components and systems. For this year’s edition, we’ve incorporated some frequently asked questions into the majority of the sections, and I think you’ll find this extremely useful. We’ve also updated the graphical look of the issue, and your feedback is always welcome. You will find updated sections on many components and other areas of fluid power interest, some all-new topics, and a fascinating trends piece on where digitalization is taking fluid power systems in the coming years.
Fluid power systems are comprised of components that include pumps, cylinders, valves, hose, fittings, gauges, sensors, filters, seals, and reservoirs. Some components are considered absolute necessities, while others are optional and used to refine the system for more precise operation or to increase the lifespan of the system or its individual parts. Throughout this handbook, we detail many of the more common and widely used components, explaining their operation, their place in the system, and how an engineer should correctly specify them.
While fluid power can be used in most any industry or application, it is commonly seen in markets that include packaging, off-highway, mining, offshore/marine, medical, material handling, construction, aerospace, automation, robotics and entertainment.
And fluid power is an important technology. A December 2012 study by the Department of Energy discovered that between 2.1% and 3.0% of the United States’ energy is transmitted through fluid power equipment. While that is an impressive statistic, the study also found that the efficiency of fluid power systems ranges from 8% to 40%, averaging a mere 22%.
These numbers illustrate how much improvement there is to make. The study concludes that a 5% improvement in efficiency over 5 years is possible by instituting best practices in industry. Or, even better, a 15% improvement over 15 years is possible with a strategic R&D program. Doing this would save the U.S. an amazing $37 billion.
While some say that fluid power is a static, mature technology, there’s still much in store for the technology. We continue to see hydraulic and pneumatic components become more Internet-friendly, wireless and capable of being monitored and controlled from distant locations, taking preventative maintenance to new levels.
One last note: Our online family of websites grew by one this year, with the addition of SealingandContaminationTips.com. This site features needto- know engineering details on everything from seals to filters to hydraulic fluids, as well as articles on contamination issues. So now you can access our library of unique, high-value editorial content there, in addition to our sites FluidPowerWorld.com, PneumaticTips.com, MobileHydraulicTips.com, and HoseAssemblyTips.com