Hydraulics Online, Elon Musk and SpaceX Hyperloop

HypED is a University of Edinburgh student-led project that is blazing a successful path for British engineers in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop project – and demonstrating an innovative new future for hydraulics in the process.

One of only 24 teams to be shortlisted for the final of the SpaceX Hyperloop competition to design a transportation pod for this phenomenally new and exciting mode of transport, HypED stretch the notion of “disruptive technologies” to its limits.

When, in May 2017, the HypED team were looking for suppliers for the hydraulic parts that would be used in the brake systems of its Hyperloop pod, one of the suppliers it approached was Hydraulics Online.

The input from Hydraulics Online was really something we couldn’t get elsewhere – Adam Anyszewski, HypED President.

Unique Collaboration

President, Adam Anyszewski explains: “We needed two things: student rates on the parts and manufacturing and, secondly, design consulting. Hydraulics Online was the only supplier who responded to both of our requirements.”

And, as it turned out, Hydraulics Online’s design consultancy services have had major benefits for the HypED project.

Adam says: “We had our idealistic design of how we wanted it to work, and then Hydraulics Online helped us take it from an idea on paper to an actual design that can be manufactured effectively.”

They have been very, very helpful because they had the knowledge of the available parts, the connections, all the safety requirements, and aspects of the design we weren’t aware of.”

“Basically, they helped us to take it from concept to a working design that achieved the functionality in a safe and certified manner.”

Very Tight Timescales

Hydraulics Online took the pressure off – Adam Anyszewski, HypED President.

Hydraulics Online’s input was even more vital to the success of the project when, in May, the HypED team’s hydraulics lead was incapacitated; badly injuring his shoulder in a way that jeopardised his involvement.

With timescales tight – the team only received competition specifications from SpaceX in April – and the prototype needing to be shipped to California in August to participate in the final of the competition, Adam says: “Hydraulics Online certainly live up to their word when they say ‘let us take the pressure’.”

“It was a really dire situation. Hydraulics Online prevented a lot of stress. They worked closely with us over multiple iterations and agreed to help us with the manufacture – and this really took the pressure off.”

Bespoke Engineering Services

As well as manufacturing mechanical elements, such as the manifold, Hydraulics Online helped Adam and his team to refine the design in several key ways as well.

“Hydraulics Online helped us to make the design more resilient,” explains Adam, “They helped us to ensure the system is failsafe and that it always has functionality – even if, for example, the control system fails or there is any mechanical instability. We now have a system that can cope with that, something we didn’t fully account for on the drawing board.”

The team has also been able to reduce the number of pre-charged accumulators used, from four in the original design, to two following testing. “We had some design contingency built-in,” says Adam, “but Hydraulics Online stuff is of such high quality that we could go down from four to two accumulators.”

California Dreaming

This is important for HypED because when the pod runs on the SpaceX Hyperloop test track in California at the end of August the competing teams are being judged on who has built the fastest Hyperloop possible.

“The velocity is dependent on mass, and shaving 6kg to 10kgs of weight off like this will help us achieve a higher speed and a better result in the competition,” says Adam.

“Getting to California is super-exciting and super-stressful but Hydraulics Online’s ability to take the pressure off us has been a significant one.”

hyped-pdfYou can download a printable PDF version of this story, or click through to our “success stories” page to see more examples of the work we get involved in.

And in may not be as futuristic or ground-breaking as the SpaceX Hyperloop, but we’d still love to know…

How can we help you?

Innovative Custom Hydraulics and Systems Design

We invest time and energy to build great relationships with our suppliers as well as our customers. Fluidlink Hydraulics is a British manufacturer of mobile hydraulic power packs and valve packs. It has worked closely with us for more than ten years – helping us to deliver the innovative custom hydraulics and  high-tech solutions for which we’re known.

 

We work with Hydraulics Online to provide solutions that other companies wouldn’t be able to – Martin Belbin, Operations & Technical Manager, Fluidlink Hydraulics

As a quality British engineering business, Fluidlink Hydraulics invests heavily in its machinery, software, skills and technology and operates a 100% testing protocol.  The vast majority of its customers use Fluidlink for the design, manufacture and build service it offers to OEM clients.  However, its partnership with Hydraulics Online brings some more unusual and technically challenging custom hydraulics work its way.

Custom Hydraulics – Engineering Bespoke Solutions

Fluidlink Hydraulic’s Operations & Technical Manager, Martin Belbin, says: “Hydraulics Online are always different.  We’ve manufactured a bespoke power pack for the hydraulic systems to lift a 400kg marble kitchen worktop. We’ve even manufactured a system to control the nose on Concorde.  Because we have manufacturing capability here, we can be very flexible and make very small quantities and one-offs if required.”

The businesses have been working closely together since 2006 and Martin says the two companies complement each other well.

“The power packs we manufacture are only one component in a hydraulic solution.  You also need cylinders, motors, hoses, and the control gear.  Not only does Hydraulics Online have very good relationships with the distributors of these other components, they also have the product knowledge that goes along with them.”

“They can take our designs and say ‘if we put it with this component, it will work in that application’.  It means we can work together to develop an optimal custom hydraulics solution.  Hydraulics Online is completely independent, so we can choose the best components for the job and, most importantly, we can be very competitive on price.”

Good Collaboration

As well as developing a range of power packs for Hydraulics Online, it isn’t uncommon for the two businesses to take a brief from the end customer together in order to work closely on the design stages of a project.

“When a client has an unusual requirement, Hydraulics Online will do the initial problem-solving for them, then we can do the bespoke engineering side behind it.  Combining the products and product knowledge of Hydraulics Online and integrating that with our bespoke solutions is the best of both worlds,” says Martin.

A Very Unusual Requirement

This teamwork paid dividends on a very usual job in early 2017.  A client approached Hydraulics Online for a very particular set of requirements for operating an extruding machine.  It needed to run a very large cylinder very slowly at the same time as a hydraulic motor was required to turn quickly.  Martin says: “it was the two extremes of hydraulics in a single system”.

The client had a very specific set of requirements, so it was important that all three companies worked together so an appropriate solution could be offered.

Our relationship with Hydraulics Online means that we are able to be very competitive – Martin Belbin, Operations & Technical Manager, Fluidlink Hydraulics

fluidlink-1Despite the complexity and unconventional specification, the close working relationship enabled Hydraulics Online and Fluidlink to design and propose a solution within two weeks, with just another four weeks required to manufacture, build and deliver it once approved.

The finished solution included both a 11Kw motor coupled with a large 18cc pump capable of producing a flow rate of 27L per minute at 200 bar pressure, and a 0.25Kw with a 0.166cc pump delivering a flow rate of 0.01L per minute under 200 bar of pressure, plus a 100L tank and a single power pack on a large frame that fit the client’s exact dimensions.  This involved a bespoke distribution manifold and a bespoke control manifold built by Fluidlink Hydraulics, so that all aspects could be controlled, including setting the speed and torque on the motors.

Martin says: “We love working with Hydraulics Online.  Their technical knowledge is excellent. They have all sorts of challenging enquiries which makes life very interesting.  Because of our combined expertise, when we work with them, we know we are going to be able to push the boundaries a bit and think outside the box.”

fluidlink-success-story

You can download a printable PDF version of this story by clicking the image to the right, or click through to our “success stories” page to see more examples of the work we get involved in.

How can we help you?

10 Ways to Ensure Effective Oil Analysis

Unplanned downtime disrupts business operations; effective oil analysis plays a vital role in looking after your machinery…

With 70 to 80 percent of all hydraulic failures being down to fluid contamination, it’s not exactly rocket science to say that ensuring regular, effective oil analysis should always be high on the agenda.

System DesignHydraulic component contamination is categorised in three ways: gaseous, liquid or solid. Gaseous contamination can damage a hydraulic system’s lubricating properties, creating wear and increasing the chances of other types of contamination. Liquid contamination not only alters the capabilities of the lubricating properties, but also causes rust. Solid contamination can cause valve blockages, substantial pump damage and blown seals and gaskets. All of these causes are completely avoidable.

Effective oil analysis – ten ways to keep your oil clean:

1. Monitor – Hydraulic fluid should be monitored routinely and sampled on a quarterly basis.

2. Identify – Identify what sort of contaminant may be present (solid, liquid or gas) to ensure that the right kind of analysis in undertaken.

3. Find the source – By identifying the source of the contamination, preventative action can be taken. This may include contamination as a consequence of the equipment manufacturing process, air borne contamination or contamination produced as a result of the equipment in operation.

4. Neutralise – Offset the causes, and minimise the consequences of contamination either through: oil transfusion, installing extra air filters and replacing worn or damaged components.

5. Benchmark – All oil analysis codes are based off a code: ISO 4406. The relevant benchmark depends on the application in question.

6. Filter – Using hydraulic filters and filtration equipment can, in many cases, stop oil contamination. Determining flow rates, viscosity and pressure are necessary to finding the right filtering system. As a leading hydraulic filter supplier we have widespread, competitive access to both leading and niche hydraulic filter manufacturers from around the world. Some of the hydraulic filter manufacturers and brands that we can supply include: Argo HytosDonaldsonEaton Vickers, Hydac, Ikron, MP Filtri and Parker hydraulic filters. Our technical team will be able to determine which filtration equipment is most suitable for your application.

 

Hydraulic Filters - Effective Oil Analysis

 

7. Analyse – In order for oil analysis to be reliable, an in-depth inspection will need to be carried out. This may be in a laboratory environment through microscopic particle count and gravimetric testing, or through a mobile particle counter installed on the machine.

8. Predict – Recording results will allow you to spot trends and identify possible future risks. This is hugely important to lessen unexpected machinery downtime and schedule future inspections in good time.

9. Prevent – To help prevent contamination:

  • Always make sure oil is filtered;
  • Change oil filters every 12 weeks;
  • Take oil samples every 12 weeks to check cleanliness level;
  • Install air breathers to reduce contamination.

10. Invest – There is, of course a cost involved in ensuring effective oil analysis, but it is  nothing compared to the cost of a replacement pump or even a complete system, lost production and goodwill.

And don’t forget…

Hydraulics Online have a wealth of experience in hydraulic system design and components. If you’d like to make an enquiry or you’d just like more information, you can call or send and email to one of our friendly technical team. If you’d like to see another blog on hydraulic systems design, click here.

Testimonial: Marine and Industrial Engineering Company

Could you reply with a list of all the equipment ordered from you to do the recent job on our vessel? It has been a success resulting in more power, speed and a quieter running system and we now intend to do the same job on another sister vessel.

Click through on the following links if you’d like to find out more about us and our customers, the markets and hydraulic manufacturers that we deal with and the hydraulic products and services that we can provide.

Remember, if it’s hydraulic we can design it, supply it, solve it or repair it!

Blog & Case Studies

SpaceX Hyperloop Competition

HypED is a University of Edinburgh student-led pro

September 29, 2017 read more

A Personal Story – Helen, Co-Founder of Hydraulics Online

We grab a word with Hydraulics Online co-founder,

September 22, 2017 read more

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Testimonials

SpaceX Hyperloop Competition

HypED is a University of Edinburgh student-led project that is blazing a successful path for British engineers in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project – and demonstrating […]

A Personal Story – Helen, Co-Founder of Hydraulics Online

We grab a word with Hydraulics Online co-founder, Helen Baker. As Operations Director, Helen has the strategy and big picture firmly within her sight, but […]