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FLUID POWER Hydraulic Manifolds - Efficient people, process & technology

Mar 6, 2020

It is essential to leverage the strengths of people, process and technology to deliver quality hydraulic manifolds and engineering services on time, every time. It calls for technology enabled process driven people, leading to efficient manufacturing with productivity improvement. - Nimit Patel, CEO, Hydraulic Manifolds, USA

Quality performance is typically gauged by reviewing product and customer service. To achieve efficient manufacturing a deep dive examination of people, process, and technology is required. Each element contributes to quality products and services.

People must have a good mix of experience and technology. It is best practice to look at the percentage of the workforce with 25+ years of experience; at least 20% is suggested. Similarly, the manufacturing staff must be quick and responsive to customer requests (ideally within 24 hours). Communication with customers drives team collaboration inside the manufacturing facility.

Process is quickly captured with ISO 9001 certification; it validates the quality management process. Likewise, 5S and lean manufacturing allows greater throughput resulting in competitiveness and improved people performance. With formal training the risk of losing tribal knowledge is overcome and ensures consistency in knowledge-sharing. Continuous process improvement occurs only with data collection. A manufacturer can then guarantee validation of various techniques to further improve quality. Production engineering is responsible for production planning as well as lean and value stream mapping (VSM).

Technology takes many forms in efficient manufacturing. Simple CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology ensures all communication is logged and tracked. The use of latest machine and high-performance tools both simplify production and increases production capacity.

Use of sophisticated computer technology to design hydraulic manifolds and validate design related issues, such as minimum wall thickness is essential. MDTools, for example, allows companies to provide a 3D rendered view to the customer guaranteeing a quality product is being delivered. Operating in Autodesk or Solidworks, the 3D manifold design app software, provides power tools to automate the manifold design, checking, documentation, and modeling process. Software tools, including ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, allow fast-moving hydraulic manifold manufacturers to manage production and ensure timely delivery of products.

Hydraulic manifolds play a critical role in efficient manufacturing

Years of experience designing manifolds is critical to avoid the pitfalls of standardised off-the-shelf solutions. Use of specialty manifold design software allows industry leaders to create robust designs while ensuring all required constraints are met.

In most hydraulic systems, hydraulic cylinders and pistons are connected through valves to a pump supplying high-pressure oil.

Key elements of automation are hydraulics and electrical controls. While electrical controls are used to create logic elements, the work performed is typically using hydraulics. Hydraulics are used where force needs to be multiplied to perform the work. The basic idea behind any hydraulic system is very simple: force that is applied at one point is transmitted to another point using an incompressible fluid. The fluid is almost always some sort of oil; the force is almost always multiplied in the process

Force multiplication

Pascal’s law states that pressure set up in a confined body of fluid, acts equally in all directions, and always at right angles to the containing surface. When a pressure is applied to a fluid trapped in a confined space, that pressure acts on each square millimeter of that surface. The force output of a hydraulic actuator is the result of the pressure applied and the area to which that pressure is applied.

Air in the hydraulic manifold hurts automation value

It is important that a hydraulic system contains no air bubbles. Most people have heard about the need to "bleed the air out of the brake lines" of a vehicle. If there is an air bubble in the system, then the force applied to the first piston gets used compressing the air in the bubble rather than moving the second piston, which has a big effect on the efficiency of the system.

Hydraulic manifold selection maximises manufacturing efficiencies

While the majority of hydraulic components are catalogued items with readily available specifications, the challenge to create a more robust performance typically comes from two major areas: circuit design and manifold design.

Experts start by reviewing the circuit and frequently collaborate with customers. Application specific manifold designs require specialists. Only with automated hydraulic manifold expertise can potential defects be avoided. When a customer identifies the suggested valve selection, it may not have the desired flow or pressure. Careful critiquing generates suggestions which help reduce design change time for customers. Engineering collaboration allows a better understanding how manifolds will integrate with other components. The result is a seamless manifold design driving a reduction in assembly time while ensuring serviceable parts are easily accessible.

Industries served by hydraulic manifolds

Air traffic management uses hydraulic manifolds in navigation aids and surveillance systems; the aircraft industry also is a frequent user from aerospace simulation to control components, including both commercial and military aircraft.

The construction and defense industries use hydraulic manifolds, along with the energy sector including gas and steam turbines. This sector includes oil and gas exploration and production and wind turbines. Industrial machinery, material handling, metal forming and presses, packaging machinery, robotics, and steel production machinery are also frequent sectors served.

Efficient manufacturing: Technology enabled process driven people

There is no doubt that industries are challenged to deliver quality hydraulic manifolds and engineering services on time, every time. Compounding these challenges is the competitive global marketplace. It is essential to leverage the strengths (technology is inexpensive) and overcoming weaknesses (labour is more expensive). Only with technology enabled process driven people can manufacturers guarantee both competitive pricing at higher productivity and optimised quality.

Image Gallery

  • Use of specialty manifold design software allows industry leaders to create robust designs while ensuring all required constraints are met

  • Force output of a hydraulic actuator

  • While the majority of hydraulic components are catalogued items with readily available specifications, the challenge to create a more robust performance typically comes from two major areas: circuit design and manifold design.

  • Nimit Patel

    CEO

    Hydraulic Manifolds, USA

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