One of the major advantages of hydraulics is its ability to lift and move heavy loads. This is why most of the heavy machinery like cranes, excavators, tractors, loaders, etc… that are commonly found in every industry utilizes hydraulics for its operation. For hydraulics, heavy loads and working conditions are not a big deal. What it considers, is the required fluid pressure and how well you maintain it.
Let’s discuss the basics of heavy equipment, that is also known as the heavy machine, heavy hydraulics, mobile hydraulics, or mobile equipment. Generally, heavy equipment is a specific category of vehicles with purpose-built designs that are operated off of roads and highways to serve industries like earthmoving, landscaping, mining, construction, agriculture, forestry, and material handling. These heavy machines are not intended for the transportation sector. So that it can carry only the driver as the occupant and will be having limited speed up to a maximum of 45 mph unloaded.
Every mobile heavy equipment will differ from one another on the basis of its design, size, application, power, and function. There are few other factors like its fluid power attachments, mobility, and self-powered characteristics that are distinctive. This heavy equipment can be categorized based on the industry it serves, the purpose of the equipment and the driven mechanism implemented.
With hydraulics, a large force can be generated with a small applied force like pressing a button or by pushing a lever. You can find such operations in mobile machinery and one among those is the excavators. The operator will have access only to the two joysticks located inside the cabin. But, the movement of these joysticks is duplicated on the bucket within no time. This instant and accurate action occur because of the four hydraulic cylinders that control the boom or stick and bucket. The other advantages of hydraulics on heavy equipment are:
- Eliminates complicated designs with cables, gears, chains, belts, and camshafts.
- High horsepower-to-weight ratio.
- Proper maintenance will improve the lifespan of machinery
- Suitable for rough environments.
- Can withstand high temperature
- Safely lift heavy loads
- Variable speed adjustment and ability to move in the reverse direction
- Generates high torque while operating at low rotational speeds
- Actuator force or rotational torque can be held constant
Major Classification of Mobile Heavy Equipments
Excavation Equipment: Examples of excavation equipment are excavators, backhoe loaders, and trenchers. These machineries are designed to remove soil or related materials from one place to another. The equipment requires a powerful engine, a drive system, a steering system, and a hydraulically operated boom and bucket. The operator can control the excavation operation from the operator station(cabin). The hydraulics start operation when the operator applies pressure on the joysticks. It starts from the reservoir that stores gallons of hydraulic fluid with antiwear additives. Because of the greater flow requirements of excavation equipment, the hydraulic system often includes many hydraulic pumps to pressurize the fluid. The pressurized fluid passes through hoses located inside the boom/stick and then the bucket will perform the specified operation with the help of cylinders and valves.
Earth-Moving and Mining Equipment: Examples of earth-moving and mining equipment are dozers, loaders, and off-road dump trucks. These machineries are designed to push, scoop up, and haul large amounts of material from one place to another. The major hydraulic components of dozers are the reservoir, pumps, tilt cylinder, lift cylinder, and control valve. The lift cylinder is attached to the boom and it allows to raise and lower the boom and the tilt cylinder is attached to the bucket for tilting a bucket pivotally connected to the lift arm. In dozers, when the operator applies pressure on the control lever, the hydraulic pumps will pressurize the fluid inside the reservoir and pump it towards the cylinders. The cylinder extends or retracts to perform the operation.
Hoisting and Handling Equipment: Cranes, forklifts, and knuckle boom loaders are examples of hoisting and handling equipment. These are designed for lifting, moving, and loading components and materials. Among these, cranes are the commonly used machine in every industry and we can discuss hydraulics behind it. Large diesel engines, hydraulic systems, counterweight, joysticks, and a high-strength lattice boom are commonly found in cranes. The internal hydraulic system of cranes will help to hoist heavy loads smoothly and safely. In cranes, the boom can be extended up to a limit for reaching objects. Like other heavy-duty equipment, this operation is also done with hydraulics when the piston extends/retracts due to the flow of pressurized fluid from the reservoir.