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Hydraulic Distribution System Design Considerations

One of our customers recently asked us to solve an aggravating hydraulic distribution problem. After years of nearly trouble-free operation, an alarming trend of erratic pressure spikes began. These spikes were the result of multi-station cross-talk disturbances that led to cracked manifolds, failed servovalves and compromised test data.

Typical causes for these types of disturbances are either gaps in properly maintaining hydraulic flow conditioning components along the distribution system, or too little consideration given to the impact of business-driven test lab expansion on the hydraulic system dynamics. In this case, the lab had added a single load frame to the system, and it was enough to jeopardize the operation of larger, more complex test systems in the lab. We were able to diagnose the problem and provide recommendations to remedy the situation.

MTS test systems cover an extremely wide range of sizes and applications, from small systems for biomedical applications to enormous systems for civil engineering projects. The knowledge and experience gained from all these applications goes into every hydraulic distribution system we design or update. Here are just some of the things we consider:

Facility issues
Good hydraulic distribution system design makes maximum use of space, minimizes the need for costly renovation of the facility, reduces disruption of traffic, and can have significant effect on ongoing costs. MTS designs systems with all of these considerations in mind and presents the proposed distribution system design for customer approval before finalizing the installation plan.

Materials and layout
Materials, pipe sizes, and bend radii all effect the efficiency and reliability of a hydraulic distribution system. Careful engineering and proper design can eliminate potential causes of fatigue and failure, protecting both human safety and machine health.

Addressing “noise ripple”
Faulty design can lead to oscillations—noise ripple—that can be carried by the hydraulic fluid throughout the system. These oscillations can impact test results. Choosing the correct size and optimum location for accumulators and other suppression devices can help eliminate the problem.

Risk mitigation and fault tolerance
Risk mitigation and fault tolerance are complementary concerns. Increasing degrees of risk mitigation can become expensive. Where risk is accepted, systems can be designed for fault tolerance. For example, if a filter becomes clogged, the system can be designed to provide warning and, if necessary, shut down in a controlled manner to avoid damage. Determining the balance between risk mitigation and fault tolerance should be part of the system design process.

Regulatory concerns
In many areas, systems are subject to regulations, including EN, PL, and SIL. System designers must be fully aware of and familiar with pertinent regulations in order to keep systems in compliance.

Our engineers are cognizant of the issues encountered in hydraulic system design. Learning from observed examples of both problematic and best-in-class designs, we have vast knowledge of distribution dynamics, potential trouble spots, and optimal conditions for equipment operation. This knowledge would be prohibitively time-consuming and expensive to obtain as an individual lab or facilities manager.

On a daily basis, we work with customers to understand installation requirements and help evaluate tradeoffs to design distribution systems that meet customers’ needs, both functional and economic. When you need to modify or expand your system, we can help determine the best way to accommodate the change; and we can provide the services you need to prolong the life of your test equipment and hydraulic fluid and keep your system operating safely, smoothly and reliably.


MTS Systems

14000 Technology Drive
Eden Prairie, MN USA

Tel: 952.937.4000
Tel: 800.328.2255
Fax: 952.937.4515
Email: ContactMTSBrasil@mts.com