Why the hydraulic pump is the key to plant & quarry machinery

Hydraulic systems are vital for all sorts of heavy machinery used in industries like construction, agriculture and transport. Because they are so important, hydraulic pumps should always be checked and tested during routine plant maintenance. Hydraulic systems possess a number of characteristics which make them ideal for use in heavy industrial applications.

First of all, hydraulic systems can transmit very high levels of power, mainly due to the fact that the hydraulic fluid used to transmit the power through the system is virtually incompressible. Because the power is transmitted through a fluid which travels through pipes and lines, hydraulic systems can change shape and flex as the machinery itself moves. Finally, hydraulic systems are actually reasonably simple, with few moving or load-bearing components, which means they are relatively easy to fix if something goes wrong. This is an advantage when it comes to use on heavy machinery which is subjected to high levels of wear and tear.

The two key components of a hydraulic system, besides the pipes/fluid lines, are the hydraulic pump and the hydraulic motor. These two components sit at either end of the hydraulic system and perform opposite functions to one another. Hydraulic pumps transmit kinetic energy into pressure within the hydraulic fluid, whilst hydraulic motors take the pressure within the hydraulic fluid and convert it back into kinetic/rotational energy. Alongside hydraulic motors, hydraulic cylinders also take hydraulic pressure and convert it into kinetic energy, although the movement driven by hydraulic pumps is linear as opposed to rotational.

As the driving force behind the entire hydraulic system, hydraulic pumps are vital for all sorts of plant and quarry machinery to function. Below we’ll explain why in more detail.

How do hydraulic pumps work?

Hydraulic pumps come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on what specific purpose they serve. All hydraulic pumps are used to force hydraulic fluid through the hydraulic system, thereby creating pressure which will drive the hydraulic motors on the other end. The mechanism by which different types of hydraulic pump transfer kinetic energy into hydraulic pressure can vary significantly.

One of the most common and also most simple forms of hydraulic pump is the gear pump. As the name implies, gear pumps make use of interlocking gears to drive hydraulic fluid through the hydraulic system. As the gears turn, hydraulic fluid is driven around the outside of the housing and then onwards into the hydraulic pipes/lines. One of the main advantages of gear pumps is their low manufacturing cost and simple design. They also tend to fail gradually as opposed to catastrophically, which makes hydraulic repair on systems with gear pumps easier and cheaper.

Another less common type of hydraulic pump is the rotary vane pump. In these pumps, an eccentrically housed rotor with vanes extending from the centre turns within an enclosed housing. The vanes are pushed outwards to ensure they always maintain contact with the sides of the housing, allowing them to maintain pressure as rotation occurs. In this way, hydraulic fluid is forced into the hydraulic pipes as the vanes rotate.

Which pieces of plant and quarry machinery rely on hydraulic pumps for vital functions?

Many pieces of plant machinery would be rendered useless if one of more of their key hydraulic pumps failed. As a result, the hydraulic pump is one of the key components which should always be checked and monitored during plant maintenance.

Quarry machinery is some of the largest and most powerful industrial machinery out there. Because the machines that frequent quarries have to deal with enormous quantities of solid rock, they have to be particularly strong and durable. Besides those responsible for driving the machinery, the key moving parts on excavators, dump trucks and wheel loaders all rely on hydraulics.

The hydraulic arm of an excavator requires a number of different hydraulic pumps to control its different ranges of motion. If just one set of hydraulic motors fail, the arm is often rendered unusable. Similarly, the arm and bucket on a quarry wheel loader and the tipping mechanism which lifts the dump body of a quarry dump truck are also driven by hydraulic pumps.

Because all of these vital components are driven by hydraulic pumps, hydraulic pumps are one of the key components checked during routine plant maintenance. If hydraulic plant maintenance is carried out regularly, worn or deteriorating hydraulic pumps can be identified before a full-on system failure occurs. Failures can cost massive amounts of money through lost productivity in a quarry environment, so it’s best to be prepared.

Hydraulic repair and maintenance should always be carried out by professionals who are fully-trained and experienced in carrying out such work. Specialist equipment and specialist components require expert maintenance, so it’s best to entrust this work to a company who knows what they are doing.

If you would like to know more about our plant maintenance or hydraulic repair services, please get in touch with us at CJ Plant Maintenance today.