Sunday, 12 July 2015 14:24:00 Europe/London

Hydraulic engineering was was considered an almost unknown science until Joseph Bramah (13 April 1748 – 9 December 1814), was granted a patent for his hydraulic press in 1795. Along with William George Armstrong (26 November 1810 – 27 December 1900), he is considered one of the two fathers of hydraulic engineering. Bramah’s hydraulic press had many industrial applications and still does today. The hydraulic press is still known as the Bramah Press after its inventor.

Hydraulic engineering is based on the laws of science governing the behaviour of pressure in liquids and the fact that hydraulic systems allow smaller forces to be multiplied into bigger forces in confined spaces. Car braking systems provide an excellent example of the application of this in everyday life.

It takes a huge force to slow down or stop a car that is travelling at speed. A hydraulic system is used in the braking system of a car; they cause a relatively small force from the driver’s foot to be multiplied to produce a bigger force, which acts equally on all four brake pads. The force from the driver’s foot puts pressure on the brake fluid in a small piston. The pressure is transmitted throughout the brake fluid in all directions. Next to each brake disc, there is a much larger piston with a larger cross-sectional area. The transmitted pressure acts on this bigger area to produce a larger load force on the brake pads. The pads then rub against the brake discs and allow the car to slow down.

Though maybe not seen as cutting edge in today's fast-paced, 24/7 world, the fact is that hydraulic systems are found in a huge variety of applications and environments from your dentist's chair and small assembly machinery or security gates through to piling rigs, wind turbines, theme park rides, supersonic aircraft (including the droop nose on Concorde) and the bascules on London’s Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge HydraulicsWhen it was built, Tower Bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever completed (“bascule” comes from the French for “see-saw”). These bascules were operated by hydraulics, using steam to power the enormous pumping engines. The energy created was stored in six massive accumulators, as soon as power was required to lift the Bridge, it was always readily available. The accumulators fed the driving engines, which drove the bascules up and down. Despite the complexity of the system, the bascules only took about a minute to raise to their maximum angle of 86 degrees.

Today, the bascules are still operated by hydraulic power, but since 1976 they have been driven by oil and electricity rather than steam.

We love anything and everything "hydraulic", and are always keen to share our knowledge... which is why we have created our very own reference section over on our main website, www.hydraulicsonline.com. You can find more information on how a hydraulic system works by visiting our ‘Hydraulics for Beginners’ reference page and also visit our ‘Jargon Buster’ and ‘Hydraulic Symbols’ page to help you better understand the hydraulic terminology, as well as decode schematic diagrams of hydraulic circuit drawings!

Hydraulic system design is all in a day’s work for the team here, alongside sourcing routine and specialist hydraulic equipment, including “Intrinsically Safe” and “ATEX” certified products. We can help you there too with our ATEX Quick Reference Guide covering the basics of the ATEX directive and regulations. Even if you think you know everything about ATEX, it never hurts to wise-up and make sure you know what you don’t know!

As we’ve already mentioned, we have a huge range of applications that we supply hydraulic equipment for. An example is a leisure & fairground attraction provider who was due to attend a prestigious national event when their attraction’s main hydraulic drive failed. The replacement, competitor product was on a four week lead time, so the ride would be out of operation for the entire event and all revenue would be lost. Our team were consulted and a suitable direct replacement was sourced from Italgroup (an Italian hydraulic company) and flown into the UK within 48 hours, with no re-engineering required. The customer had a fully-functioning attraction for the major weekend event and their revenue was protected. Happy days!

It’s no secret that we love hydraulics and our customers rely on us to provide them with hydraulic solutions that ensure their systems are “fit for purpose”.

“Your service is more than great – 5 stars is not enough! I am very happy will recommend you to my contacts.”

Posted in News By

Hydraulics Online News Editor

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