It has been suggested for about the last forty years or so, that hydraulics were on their way out because of the drive for ever more energy efficiency and the invention of electric drive systems, and yet all those years down the track, hydraulics are still with us and as important as ever. For many industries, hydraulics are the central technology which keeps them functioning and things would be extremely difficult without it. Pretty much every vehicle ever used in construction relies on hydraulics for its operations, sluice gates to allow water to flow or be held back wouldn’t operate, and many of the machines used in manufacturing would cease functioning.
Technology in Development
Hydraulic systems have been on the agenda for the axe for a very long time, because even with good maintenance, they have been considered energy inefficient, clumsy devices, prone to springing leaks. More and more electric solutions have been brought to the fore, to try to take over, but so far, they don’t seem to be winning the battle. This might be because the electric drive sector are not the only ones to be looking at technology and efficiency, and the hydraulic industry has brought about significant improvements and innovations, which have improved performance dramatically at the same time as their would be competitors were predicting their doom. Simply put, new technologies have not yet found a way to be stronger, or more reliable, and are not making significant enough in-roads to put hydraulics out of business.
If you talk to a company involved in hydraulic repair in Portsmouth, a busy port and naval base, they will tell you that modern systems are much more efficient, precise, yet more versatile than ever before. No longer controlled simply by basic mechanics, high performance electronics and software have enabled hydraulic systems to become more intelligent, so sophisticated machinery is becoming much simpler to operate. Not only that, systems are becoming capable of detecting potential wear and tear problems, allowing for scheduled maintenance to catch an issue before it causes downtime.
The Future for Hydraulics
The future for hydraulics looks set to be a fairly lengthy and prosperous one, with the levels of intelligence we already see today, only set to become ever more efficient and smarter. The trend is for ever more improvements in energy efficiency and less and less breakdowns. Preventative maintenance will become much simpler, as the equipment will become more and more autonomous, with changing of fluids done exactly at the right time, and seals self-monitoring, to provide early warning of a maintenance requirement.
The impact that technology has had in driving developments in hydraulics cannot be denied, and some of the alternative options, such as the electric drive have proven themselves perfectly capable of working well in certain areas. Until now the various sides of the pro and anti-hydraulics teams have worked entirely separately from each other, intent on pushing their technology to the fore. Perhaps now is the time for them to put aside which system is better, and to work together to integrate a hybrid system, for the benefit of all, because it seems that hydraulics most definitely are not out of the game yet.