Hydraulic System

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: April 30, 2022

What Does Hydraulic System Mean?

A hydraulic system is a drive system whose movements are initiated by pressurized fluids. A system's hydraulic force can be used for various applications, such as lifting, pushing, bending, pressing, and cutting.

Hydraulic systems are used in a variety of industries including construction, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and robotics.

Safeopedia Explains Hydraulic System

There are different types of hydraulic systems, but all of them use pressurized fluid to perform their tasks. Their operations are based on Pascal's law, which states that pressure exerted anywhere on an enclosed liquid will be fully transmitted to the interior of the container. This allows these systems to generate large amounts of force with little effort.

Applications for Hydraulic Systems

Hydraulic systems are used to accomplish different tasks in a wide variety of industries, such as:

  • Manufacturing: Used for plastic processing, automated production lines, machine tools, loaders, crushers, and robotic systems
  • Construction: Used in earthmoving equipment, tunnel boring machines, rail equipment, and drilling rigs
  • Automobile: Used in brakes, shock absorbers, and steering systems
  • Aerospace: Used for rudder control, landing gear, brakes, flight control, and rocket motor movement

Types of Hydraulic Systems

  • Hydraulic circuits are systems used to control the flow and pressure of a liquid
  • Hydraulic pumps converts mechanical energy into hydraulic energy (a combination of pressure and flow)
  • Hydraulic motors convert hydraulic energy (pressure and flow) into torque
  • Hydraulic cylinders convert energy stored in hydraulic fluid into force that can move the cylinder in a linear direction

Hydraulic Energy as a Safety Hazard

Hydraulic systems have components that can move with great speed and force. Coming into contact with these moving parts can cause crushing injuries that range in severity from minor pinching and bruising to more serious incidents involving broken bones, amputations, or fatalities.

To mitigate these risks, workers should be provided training that covers the hazards posed by hydraulic energy, safe work procedures involving hydraulic systems, and what PPE should be worn when working with these systems.

Hydraulic energy also falls under OSHA's lockout/tagout standards. Any worksite with hyrdaulic systems should have a lockout/tagout program in place, the equipment required to lock and tag the systems, and trained personnel who can follow proper lockout/tagout procedures.


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