How Weight Affects Hydraulic Performance, Cost and Energy Savings

As the lockdown lifestyle has taken its toll on many of our waistlines, now is the perfect time to contemplate whether the hydraulics industry is overweight. Is hydraulics the equivalent of a tired, middle-aged man, struggling to accept that the world has moved on without him?

Considering industries such as Aerospace and Robotics rely heavily on hydraulics, why is it so out of date? We live in a world of Tesla and Instagram, it’s about time the hydraulic industry went on a diet.

Does the Hydraulics Industry Have a Weight Problem?

When people think of hydraulics, there is not much else to consider apart from steel cast components and embarrassingly inefficient two stage servo valves. Companies have kept this industry stuck in the 80’s for far too long and it’s time now to move on. We have seen some tech companies completely explode since then, and there is some serious room for improvement here.

Domin Fluid Power have begun their journey with a completely new approach in mind. Using the latest technologies available, Domin have based their entire designs on taking a holistic approach and capitalising on the advantages of additive manufacturing. The freedom that 3D printing brings was simply not available when the big players in the market first began to lay down their roots.
For example, take a machined servo valve made from steel alloy.

It Always Starts with Overconsumption

The amount of metal used in this process ends up being far more material than is actually needed. On the other hand, if you were to 3D print a servo valve with the perfect wall thickness to withstand the necessary stress levels and flow forces, you save on material and weight. This makes a lighter, cheaper, and far more compact product.

Successful Transformation Requires a Change in Mindset

Domin have then taken this concept a step further. They have integrated modern electronics to their design to create the first high speed direct servo valve capable of 60 lpm (70bar) whilst weighing in under 550 g. Compare this to one of the industries so called ‘household’ names and the true contrast of imbalance becomes apparent.

It is safe to say that we would all be happy losing 85% of our unwanted weight but when we are talking in terms of aviation, the implication of this is staggering.

Remember that tale of Bob Crandall who reportedly reduced American Airlines outgoings by over $50,000 a year by getting rid of the olives from their in-flight salads (written in the book 'Corporate Creativity'). Airlines are no strangers to making huge gains from minor changes. Amazingly, when an aircraft loses 1kg of weight they typically save over £1,600 a year per plane.

When operators like BA are flying over 500 aircrafts, the financial impact from weight saving becomes eye-watering. It's highly likely airlines will be looking at every avenue possible to save money in the coming years once the effects of the COVID pandemic wears off. Not to mention the advantages of having light weight, high speed hydraulic products in the automotive and robotics industries. There are plenty of opportunities just lying there and waiting to be snapped up by the next corporation willing to take on the challenge.

What Does the Difference Look Like?

Here's a quick comparison for your consideration. Two valves, one a Selec - D40, the other a Domin S6 Pro. The Domin (blue) is 75% lighter, 50% smaller and yet comes with significantly better performance and power.

Domin S6 Pro vs Select Valve Comparison

Tech Today, Norm Tomorrow

With this in mind, Domin are developing a fully integrated flight control system for the aviation market and are working closely with Aston Martin to create an active suspension unit that will be ready to take on modern day demands. These projects have only been made possible due to the success of their lightweight and highly compact hydraulic servo valves.

The only question that remains is, do Domin’s competitors have time to catch up? Or is retirement on the horizon for companies that are set in their ways… Perhaps some will be forced to make way for the new era of advanced hydraulic technology.

So, if you want to find out more, then browse our range of Lightweight Hydraulic Servo Valves, or Contact Us and let's discuss how we may be able to help.