The industrial revolution has maximized the capacity of the construction sector. The evolution in this industry is led by a wide range of construction equipment that is mostly driven by hydraulic power. It’s hard to imagine a construction site without seeing hydraulic products like the powerful excavator or crane in operation. Besides these powerful hydraulic machines, there is also much compact hydraulic equipment that is indispensable in construction engineering and architecture. The benefits of using hydraulics in machinery, especially in building machinery have not been achieved in a single day. Its evolution continues and this article looks to discuss the future of hydraulic products in construction equipment. Before getting into the prospects, let’s know more about it and find out how big its impact has been in the construction industry so far.
More About Hydraulics
Hydraulic has been one of the most impactful technologies the human civilizations have come across. It’s an applied science that combines engineering and chemistry to make the most of fluid mechanics. Hydraulic systems are the system that forces the motor pump to push the hydraulic fluid in the entire system for creating fluid power. The advantages of using hydraulic fluid power in construction or other sectors of life are immense. The hydraulic energy or fluid power is converted into mechanical energy through actuating mechanism, providing a large amount of mechanical advantage. It turns the little force on the small piston into a larger force on the bigger piston. And this is one principle that makes hydraulic products so powerful. The other advantages of using hydraulic systems in machinery include immense power, sheer accuracy, ease of control, maintenance, and so on.
There are two types of hydraulic systems seen across industries such as open-loop hydraulic systems like compressor, turbine, pump, boiler, etc., and closed-loop hydraulic systems like bomb calorimeter, air compressor, refrigerating systems, combustion engine, etc. The hydraulic systems are made of some basic components, among which the most 5 basic ones are the reservoir, filters, valves, actuators, and hydraulic pump. The advantages of hydraulic systems made it popular across industries, some of which include adaptability, flexibility, and diversity. There are many industries dependent on the use of hydraulic products such as automobiles, aerospace, construction, marine, agriculture, and many more. One of the most beneficiary industries that makes the most of the hydraulic products is the construction industry. We’ll talk more about it later in the article.
History of Hydraulic Products in the Construction Industry
The use of hydraulics in construction machinery first occurred way back in the year 1882. It was the hybrid hydraulic excavator, which came out as a groundbreaking addition to the construction technology. A few years later, the world started to witness the use of the first complete hydraulic excavator. The fluid power has replaced manpower in construction for jobs like digging, lifting, hoisting, and depositing. From the ’60s, the construction industry began to experience the expansion of hydraulics as it started switching from cables & winches to hydraulics machinery such as excavators, graders, dozers, shovels, etc. The invention of hydraulic actuators & hydraulic control systems completely transformed the course of the construction industry. Besides the hydraulic-powered machinery like shovels, bulldozers, excavators, cranes, and backhoes; the hydraulic systems have gifted the construction industry with scissor lifts, brick-molding machines, trenchers, concrete pumping machines, and many more.
Current Trends of Hydraulics in the Construction Industry
To understand its impact, it’s important to know how hydraulic products are used in construction. It’s the working principle of such machines that allow the final drive motor to convert the hydraulic power to torque, helping the equipment such as bulldozers, track loaders, and diggers to push or carry extremely heavy loads. Alongside load carrying or pushing operation, the hydraulics wheel motors play a great role in the construction industry. Some of such wheeled hydraulic products include forklifts, wheeled-excavators, skid-steer loaders, etc. There are also many hydraulic attachments capable of performing an incredible amount of tasks. The list of compact yet powerful hydraulics useful in real life (especially the construction industry) includes Cable Reelers, Trenchers, Hydraulic Hammer & Breakers, Cement Mixers, Truss Booms, Grapples, Concrete Busters, etc. These sorts of equipment have helped the world achieve the greatest benefit of using hydraulics in machinery and kept the ancient human activity of construction going.
The Future of Hydraulic Products in Construction Machinery
Many trends are going on for the further development of hydraulic products in the construction business. The hydraulic systems design is now focused on power density instead of power alone and electronic control instead of the traditional wire control method. The Internet of Things has been evolving in this sector as the Industrial Internet of Things is there to improve remote monitoring of the construction equipment for their performance and maintenance. The research and development of hydraulics in the construction industry are providing more and more exciting trends. Let’s take a look at some of these below.
Mobile Hydraulic Equipment & Robots to Occupy the Construction Market
The construction applications see an increased demand for mobile hydraulic machinery in equipment like cranes, forklifts, and telescopic handlers. They are easy to transport to achieve maximum productivity. The use of smaller and lighter equipment can help achieve better results in applications such as shaping, metal casting, forging, shearing, and so on. The ongoing advancement in hydraulic machines is helping it replace the operator, especially functioning as robots that can perform the human-less operation.
The Rise of Digital or Electronic Controls
Planning the workday of a construction project from a digital control station is something highly anticipated in the field of construction. This function will allow to carry out the works remotely and get done with the human-less operation. The hydraulic joysticks are now replaced by proportional control while the cabs seem to be fitted with digital displays and the machine maintenance intervals are being monitored electronically. Digitalization is not limited to the way of handling construction work only. Continuous electrification has started to replace the existing engines with electric battery packs and prime movers. Soon, the machines are supposed to be completely autonomous which can make an excavator or grader match the specified output.
Digital Actuators to Enhance Productivity & Improve Fuel Efficiency
The inclusion of self-contained, integrated electric actuators is also transforming the hydraulic control networks. The Norrhydrom from Finland and Volvo Construction Equipment are two pioneer companies to develop digital hydraulic actuators. These actuators can radically enhance the productivity of the machine while cutting carbon emissions and fuel consumption in different construction projects. The Digital Hydraulic Actuator with Multi-chamber is already in operation that can eliminate the need for the main control valve to downsize the capacity of engines while using less energy. These smart cylinders are the highly anticipated ones. Instead of relying on a single pushing and pulling operation, the digital actuator is capable of using four chambers connectable in multiple permutations. The system has started to show the greatest benefits of the bigger equipment, such as the 30-ton excavators or above.
Load Sensing Technology
The load sensing technology in the construction equipment isn’t new. However, the continuous improvement in this technology has led the hydraulic pump to supply the correct flow and pressure needed by the actuators. Load sensing can now run over 5,000 PSI with ease, even though the machine is limited with input horsepower.
Rich in Digital Features
Experiencing digital features in the construction equipment is just like experiencing them in any other digital machine. The excavators are now powered with different programmable performance modes. Now, all it takes is to adjust the dial to run in eco mode or ramp up the high-power mode. Other digital features include Automatic Grade Compensation, GPS Navigation, Hybrid Drive Systems, and Traction Control. With every new model, the expectation becomes high just like the car or mobile phone! The Crawler Dozer is one of such hydraulic products that can surprise all involved in the construction industry. Its high-end models have come up with self-controlled hydrostatic drives for left-right tracks. They also include built-in software applications, customized machine responses, and real-time data logging. The value of power density is reaching skies! It seems to be closing in on around 7,000 PSI, providing higher torque even from the smaller and lighter machines.
Hydraulic products have become the most integral part of the construction industry. The futuristic efforts in this technology have drastically improved productivity while helping the construction business to flourish to the utmost. The advancements have been enhancing the power capacity and workability to improve productivity like never before. The construction equipment has now been providing incredible precision and the greatest range of motions. From digging to moving, hydraulic products have become an indispensable part of any construction work. It won’t be wrong to say that the future of construction depends largely on the future of hydraulic products in construction equipment.
Feature Image Source: ISHN.com