When we think of efficiency, pertaining to hydraulics, we commonly refer to the percentage of power loss in individual components within a system that dictates our required input power and cooling requirements. However, efficiency isn’t just about power loss through an individual component or system. It’s about using each component within the system to its greatest potential to drive out size and cost.
Take for example the historical approach to valve, actuator, and Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) integration and supply. The path of least resistance is to allow the valve supplier to specify, procure, and integrate the actuators with the valves as a mated set. A separate supplier might then take the pressure requirements of the components provided to them by the end user or Engineering Procurement & Construction (EPC) firm, and design the HPU around that criteria.
Would the system perform with this degree of separation between the actuator and the HPU integrator? Sure it would, but does it maximize efficiency? Not at all. Valve torque is a fixed value at a given differential pressure (DP). And, the flow provided by the system dictates the cycle time.
From this basic information the entire system can be developed and optimized. The actuators are the system efficiency drivers. When separating the driver from the operator (in this case the HPU) efficiency is lost due to a lack of information in the design/supply chain which causes oversizing, sacrifices efficiency, and increases cost. The ability to capture and understand the impact of torque, pressure, and flow, as it relates to performance and efficiency, is a game changer in system design.
By treating the actuators, or motors in other examples, as an integrated part of the hydraulic system, true efficiency can be achieved. The benefits of a well-engineered and properly integrated system, include:
- Actuator and motor size reductions by 25-50%
- HPU footprint reductions by 20-40%
- Reduction in energy consumption
- Weight reductions from 20-35%
- Installation time reductions
- Overall system cost reductions by 20-35%
Additionally, component consolidation can be achieved through high pressure logic manifolds, simplified maintenance and tooling, decreased system pressure drops, and further reductions in installation and operator/maintainer training schedules and costs.
To sum it up, efficiency is not just about the percentage of power loss in individual components within a system. Its understanding how the components work together to perform the required tasks in the most efficient way possible, increasing performance and driving out costs.
Chris Sarro | Offshore / Subsea Systems Development Supreme Integrated Technology, Inc.