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Basic Components of a Hydraulic System

Basic Components of a Hydraulic System

Hydraulic systems rely upon pressurized fluids for power generation to perform heavy lifting or other rugged tasks, providing precision for repetitive applications. To work efficiently, hydraulic systems are made up of various parts that facilitate fluid transport, heat transfer, pressure control, energy creation, and more. Learn about the individual components of a typical hydraulic system, and how they work together to provide high-performance functionality for a variety of applications.

The Components of a Hydraulic System

Each part of a hydraulic system is important to the functionality of the whole. If one piece fails, the entire system can lose pressure and fluids, or even produce too much pressure. Situations like these are dangerous when heavy machinery, lifts, or other equipment are involved. Water-, petroleum-, and mineral-based hydraulic fluids, as well as synthetics, are the vehicle for energy transmission through multiple parts of a hydraulic system, as well as thermal transfer and lubrication. 

Reservoir Oil Tank

The reservoir oil tank acts as the storage vessel for hydraulic oil. It also prevents oil contamination for optimal system operations. Internally, these tanks help fluids cool and allow solids to settle and air to escape.


Pipes carry fluids so that they may efficiently reach varying parts of hydraulic systems. The success of these systems depends on pipe type and maintenance, as they must withstand various pressures and have strong seals.

Hydraulic Pump

Utilizing a vacuum at its inlet, a hydraulic pump pulls system fluid from the reservoir and transports it through the system, generating hydraulic energy from mechanical energy. There are multiple kinds of available hydraulic pumps, including gear, piston, and vane pumps.

Power Source

Hydraulic systems generally receive power from an electric motor. The motor helps the system achieve fluid flow.


Working with hydraulic cylinders or motors, actuators effectively transform hydraulic energy back into mechanical energy in the form of linear or rotary motion, respectively.


To maintain proper pressure as well as flow direction and rate, actuated valves consist of spools or poppets to start or halt fluid flow. Some valve types include control valves, shut-off valves, and pressure-relief valves.


Filters safeguard hydraulic systems against potential blockages or equipment failure by catching contaminants in the fluid flow.

Applications of Hydraulic Systems

When precise, fast, or repetitive movement is necessary or a task requires heavy lifting, hydraulic systems offer that capability. A wide variety of industries utilize hydraulic systems for diverse tasks, including the automotive, industrial, marine, mining, and mobile hydraulics sectors. Some applications for these industries:

  • Processing machinery for metals, plastics, paper, textiles, and more
  • Automated production lines and material handling equipment
  • Presses and crushers
  • Construction equipment like backhoes and earthmovers
  • Agricultural machinery like tractors

M&M Hydraulic Company Offers Multiple Hydraulic Capabilities 

To function as expected in these varied applications, hydraulic system parts all require some level of maintenance over time. If you need your hydraulic systems repaired or replaced in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, or Iowa, look no further than family-owned and -operated M & M Hydraulic Company. 

We are a full-service repair shop with prototyping, engineering, machining, assembly, teardown, rebuilding, and testing services for standard or customized hydraulic pumps, cylinders, valves, and more. M & M Hydraulic also offers mobile services. Our skilled team will make a site visit, diagnose your problem, and complete reliable repairs. We stand by our work, which is why we offer a six-month warranty on pumps, cylinders, and motors after delivery.

With more than four decades of experience, our experts can assist you with your hydraulic system needs, no matter the scope of your project. Contact M & M Hydraulic to get started with your repairs.

Common Causes of Hydraulic System Failure

Hydraulic systems play a major role in the functionality of so many industries. Of course, these systems are only useful to their industries when they are functioning properly.

Unfortunately, hydraulic systems are not built to last forever and can fail when you least expect them to. It’s important to stay aware of the potential system failures that can occur to avoid them as much as possible. Not only will this help maintain proper operations for your company and save on hydraulic repair in Minnesota, but it will ensure the safety of workers handling hydraulic systems each day.

Here are some of the most common hydraulic problems that lead to system failure:

  • Contaminated fluid: Likely the most common cause of hydraulic system failure is contaminated or dirty hydraulic fluid. Over time, the fluid used in your hydraulic system can get contaminated with particles and other harmful materials. Dirty fluid can wear down the components of your hydraulic system, damaging pumps, valves and other important parts that must work together for system functionality. High-quality hydraulic fluids should always be selected, and filtration methods should be implemented to keep fluid clean.
  • Over-pressurization: Each hydraulic system is built to operate under a certain amount of pressure. Using the incorrect pressure on your system can cause internal system damage by wearing down the components.
  • Improper connections: Hose fittings are a crucial component of proper hydraulic system operation, and these must be installed correctly to the proper insertion depth and utilize the proper fittings to ensure that the connections are secure. If they are not, the fitting can blow off the hose, compromising the entire system.
  • Abrasion: The hoses in your hydraulic system can become damaged due to general abrasion that occurs over time. This may happen when the hoses are installed improperly, allowing them to rub up against other parts of the system, which wears the hose exterior down to the point of failure. it may also occur due to excessive temperatures.
  • Air in the fluid: When air bubbles get trapped in hydraulic fluid, a number of issues can present themselves. Air can become compressed inside the system and damage internal components, as well as raise the temperature to too-high levels. Air in the fluid can also lead to hydraulic pump damage that will cause the system to fail over time.

Prevent hydraulic system failure with maintenance

One of the best ways to prevent your hydraulic systems from failing at any point is to maintain consistent system monitoring and keep up with regular hydraulic system maintenance. By carefully observing your hydraulic system and checking for signs of wear, damage or dysfunction, you will be aware of the need for hydraulic repair in Minnesota before the entire system fails.

Routine maintenance goes hand in hand with this. Whether simple or complex, hydraulic systems must be routinely tuned up and cleaned and have parts replaced to maintain smooth operation of the system. This includes cleaning and replacement of hydraulic fluid.

If you’re in need of hydraulic maintenance or hydraulic repair in Minnesota, contact M & M Hydraulic Company. Our hydraulic repair shop can serve all your hydraulic equipment needs, from parts replacement and repair to fittings and service.

Tips to Help You Avoid Common Fluid Power Design Mistakes

As a longtime hydraulic company in Minnesota, we’ve gained a lot of experience in fluid power design over the years. This has given us more than enough perspective to tell when manufacturers or other hydraulic companies are making some critical mistakes in their designs.

With this in mind, here are some examples of common fluid power design mistakes and how you can avoid them:

  • Mixing up pressure and flow: This is a mistake that is especially common among designers who are new to the hydraulic field. They tend to want to get more force to lift up bigger, heavier loads, and think they need bigger pumps to produce that force. In actuality, a smaller pump often allows them to raise the pressure slightly while still preserving some of the input horsepower. The confusing of pressure and flow is even worse when talking about valves—if you put an inline flow control on a system and turn it down, the upstream pressure will rise. The mistake people make is thinking this is actually them adjusting pressure, which isn’t the case at all.
  • Not having the right reservoir size: Another common mistake made by hydraulic system designers is failing to provide enough reservoir volume. Having the correct reservoir size helps with cooling, aeration removal and contamination settling. If the reservoir hasn’t been properly sized for the cylinder, there could be some catastrophic damage to the system. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure before using any system that the right reservoir size is in place.
  • Not abiding by strength limitations of cylinder columns: This mistake can be made by just about any designer, whether beginning or advanced. The cylinder’s column strength must be obeyed. This strength is determined by the diameter and length of the rod, as well as the mounting configuration of the cylinder and its rod attachment. This entire system is going to have limitations to how much it’s capable of handling, and if you exceed those limitations there is a chance you could be dealing with some buckling or misalignment, which could permanently damage your hydraulic system.
  • Continuing to use old technology: Just because you’re comfortable with your old technology doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best technology for your uses. Hydraulic system design has come a very long way over the years, so why should you settle for handicapping yourself with outdated technology that isn’t nearly as efficient as what’s available today?
  • Not considering your filtration requirements: You’re going to need a lot more than just a small paper filter assembly to protect your hydraulic system, at least if you have any real desire to avoid some expensive repairs. Paper filters are inefficient, can absorb water and do not have sufficient dirt-holding capacity. You should instead choose synthetic filters, which are more expensive but will perform better and guard you against the need to make unnecessary repairs.

For more information, contact M & M Hydraulic Company in Minnesota with any questions you have. We look forward to assisting you soon!

Understanding What Type of Chrome You Need

When discussing the processes associated with engineering chrome and chrome plating in Minnesota and the applications for which it will be used, there is a lot of technical terminology that the layperson is likely to be unfamiliar with. If you are in the market for chrome plating for a specific project or application, it’s important for you to at least have a minimal level of understanding about some of these important industry terms, so you’ll be better able to recognize the differences in the various types of processes used to make these products.

With this in mind, here is some important information from our team that specializes in chrome plating in Minnesota.

Engineering chrome

Engineering chrome is a type of chrome that features a thick layer of chrome directly applied on to a different base material. It features a shiny and metallic finish on its exterior. However, this does not mean its primary use is aesthetic—this is just a secondary effect. It also is highly protective, and is commonly used in cylinder rods, piston rings, gun bores and railers.

Decorative chrome

As the name suggests, decorative chrome is generally used more for aesthetic purposes than practical ones. It typically features an underlayment of nickel and copper, with a thinner layer of chromium covering it on top. This layer provides some smoothness, reflectivity and resistance to corrosion, but ultimately does not offer the same level of durability and practical functionality you’d get out of engineering chrome. It’s most likely to be used in parts such as plated wheels or truck bumpers.

Hard chrome plating

This type of chrome plating is most commonly used in applications that require a lot of durability, as they offer some outstanding corrosion protection, have a reduced coefficient friction and are ideal for use in settings that require a post plate machine operation to achieve the specific finish and size sought by the manufacturers.

Thin dense chrome

Dense chrome plating typically comes in the form of electroplated chromium. This material is developed using some specific chemistry in the bath to produce a uniform thickness in the coating while still being able to maintain some very tight tolerances.

Flash chrome plating

This type of chrome plating features an extremely thin layer of chrome, which is ideal for applications that will only be exposed to light wear. It still provides very good corrosion resistance despite its thinner measurement, and has a reduced coefficient friction, tight tolerances and improved release properties.

These are just some examples of the different variations in chrome and chrome plating that you’re likely to come across when investigating your options with your chosen manufacturer. Again, while you don’t need to have thorough industry knowledge to make the proper selection, it’s at least important that you understand the basic differences in these options and the types of benefits and uses that come with them.

For more information, contact the team at M & M Hydraulic Company to discuss your options for chrome plating in Minnesota.

Why You Need Safety Release Valves

Are you familiar with the importance of safety release valves? These hydraulic parts in Minnesota are essential for the proper safety and operation of hydraulic systems. In fact, it’s typically best to have more than one safety valve per system.

Why are these hydraulic parts in Minnesota so crucial? Read on to discover how safety valves contribute to the overall functioning of hydraulic systems.

Their Function

The main relief valve on a hydraulic system prevents the system from working above a designated pressure. A backup valve steps in to stop the system if this critical pressure is exceeded without the main valve stopping it. This secondary valve only allows the system to go slightly beyond the working pressure. It will stop the system before it reaches a critical level that could damage components.

Their Purpose

Have you ever experienced a blown connection? If safety release valves aren’t among the included hydraulic parts in Minnesota, the system suffers. A hydraulic system can reach critical pressure, which will cause a connection to fail. When this blows, it can cause damage to the system, create a mess around the system, cause injuries to those nearby and shut down operations. Safety release valves help prevent all of these issues. They keep systems running smoothly and save time, money and hassle.

Their Type

Keep in mind as you select hydraulic parts in Minnesota that not all safety release valves are created equal. These parts come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes. They may also include multiple settings. Do you need assistance with choosing the best safety release valve for your system? Experts in the hydraulic industry can help you with this selection. Keep in mind that hydraulic symbols are used to indicate the function of components. It’s crucial to understand these symbols to determine which component is the best solution for your system.

Their Maintenance

It’s important to choose the right safety release valve for your hydraulic parts in Minnesota. It must be large enough to handle the flow. It must also be properly maintained so it can stop the system when needed. Secondary safety release valves should be smaller but should also be able to handle the diversion of the pump flow if needed. Keep in mind that this secondary valve is often your last line of defense against disaster.

To properly maintain your safety valves, inspect and clean your system regularly. If any small issues arise, take care of these right away. This includes the repair or replacement of hydraulic parts in Minnesota. Consult with experts in this industry to properly care for your safety valves.

Partner with the Pros

Don’t take any chances with your hydraulic system. Use the right safety release valves and achieve safe and efficient operation. To do so, partner with experts in the industry who can help you select the best hydraulic parts in Minnesota. For nearly 40 years, M & M Hydraulic Company has been your local, family-owned hydraulic repair shop, proudly providing the Upper Midwest and the surrounding areas with honest, professional and prompt service. Reach out to our team today to learn more!

Hydraulic Troubleshooting: What You Need to Know

Do you know what to do if you suspect you need hydraulic repair in Minnesota? Where should you start? What troubleshooting should you do to determine the problem? If you need a bit of guidance, the following tips are for you.

These are the basics you need to know as you get started with hydraulic repair in Minnesota. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to call for backup from a trusted hydraulic repair service in Minnesota.

Basic Functions

First, you must understand the basic function of the various hydraulic components. Troubleshooting will be impossible if you don’t know these functions or how to identify each component. Valves may look similar but perform entirely different functions. Pumps may be in good condition but misdiagnosed due to common issues. To be able to successfully troubleshoot hydraulic repair in Minnesota, first learn all the parts to the system and what they do.

Troubleshooting Procedures

Once you know how the system operates and how each part contributes to the process, you can begin to troubleshoot for hydraulic repairs in Minnesota. You should start by becoming familiar with two common troubleshooting procedures.

First, learn how to determine if a pump needs hydraulic repair in Minnesota. To test a pump, check the oil flow from the case drain line. To do so, direct the flow of the hose into a container and time the flow for 60 seconds. If there is a flow rate of one to three percent of the maximum volume, the pump is okay.

The second common test is to check the accumulator. To test the operation of this component, you can use one of three methods. For the first process, turn off the pump and allow the pressure to reduce to zero. Then, install a charging rig with a gauge on the Schrader valve. Read the gauge to determine the nitrogen pre-charge. For the second method, after turning off the pump, watch the pressure gauge. This should gradually drop, then speed up as it approaches zero. Where the needle starts to rapidly drop is the pre-charge pressure. The third method involves using an infrared camera or a temperature gun. Use one of these tools to check the sides of the accumulator shell. If the pre-charge is correct, the lower half of the shell should be warmer than the upper.

System Adjustments

Troubleshooting and hydraulic repair in Minnesota further requires a knowledge of how to properly adjust the system. Random valve adjustments and control cranking will result in more damage than good. You must be trained in the precise setting of pressure reducing valves, pump compensators, relief valves and pre-charging accumulators. With this knowledge, you will be able to make the right adjustments for hydraulic repair.

Hydraulic Symbols

You should never attempt hydraulic repair in Minnesota without first gaining an understanding of hydraulic symbols. One small symbol can tell a trained technician five or more things about the component. Often, one small letter or number difference can make a huge difference in what the component does and how it will affect the entire system. You can’t simply base troubleshooting and repairs on what the part looks like. You must be able to read the symbols to have a more in-depth understanding of the part.

Learn More

Need additional insight or assistance? The experts at M & M Hydraulic Company bring over 95 years of combined experience to the table. We repair and monitor hydraulic equipment to ensure peak level operation by servicing components such as hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, hydraulic jacks and more. Contact our team today!