What is a Hydraulic Manifold?
A hydraulic manifold is typically responsible for regulating fluid flow between one or more pumps and actuator and several other components found within the typical hydraulic system.
This can be equated to a switchboard in a regular or day-to-day electrical circuit because it allows you as the operator to control the amount of fluid flowing between the various components of your hydraulic machinery or equipment.
A practical application is in a backhoe loader, where a manifold can turn on and off to divert the flow of fluids to the telescopic arms of both the back and front buckets.
The operator’s cabin may form the basis for connecting the manifold to the levers so that they can be used to attain the right manifold behaviour.
Assorted hydraulic valves interconnected to each other can also form a manifold. In a manifold, complex control behaviour is enabled by the multiple combinations of various states of the valves.
How a Hydraulic Manifold Functions or Works
The most basic function of a hydraulic manifold is to distribute hydraulic oil within a given circuit. Hydraulic valves distributed throughout the manifold tend to regulate the flow and distribution of pressurised oil, which is channeled through hoses of a particular work device, including a hydraulic cylinder or motor.
Besides the organised and logical layout provided by a manifold, it also helps to consolidate components within itself to minimise space. Other advantages include pressure drop, less assembly time needed, fewer fittings required and minimised leak points. A hydraulic manifold can be equated to a black box, in which troubleshooting can be a concern. However, a properly designed system with test point in strategic or key locations, locating or identifying the problem can be a lot easier or faster. Connecting a transducer to such test points, it becomes possible to link the data to the machine PLC or even display them using the HMI.
Hydraulic manifold applications typically include material handling/ production equipment, machine tools, food processing, heavy construction equipment, off-highway equipment, farm equipment, oil field equipment, valve operations, and more.
Manifolds exist in two basic designs: mono-block and modular-block designs. The former holds passages as well as valves for the whole system whereas the latter supports one or two valves, with interconnecting passages for the relevant valves and flow-through provisions.
To constitute a complete system, a modular block is normally linked to a series of other modular blocks.
Since there are so many configurations application to the manifold design, the engineer has several software packages at his or her disposal to help in designing a system. Advances in these packages and technology have enhanced the operation and management of hydraulic manifolds.
Using discrete components to make competitive system requires the expertise and experience of a highly trained and qualified engineer, whom you can find locally if you are living in Kent, Essex, Heathrow, or London. Professionals have the technical know-how required to help you manage your system more efficiently. Some of the things they will help you consider when choosing a hydraulic manifold include seal materials, types and number of valves, fluid type, pressure, and more.