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Ivan Gramatikov

Design of Hydraulic Systems

for Lift Trucks

Second Edition

Preface to the Second Edition

All information contained in the first edition has been retained. Some
corrections and additions have been made to better serve the purpose of
the book.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift

First Edition
Published by Technical University- Sofia, Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
ISBN: 978-954-438-730-3
Printed in Bulgaria

Second Edition
Copyright 2011 by Ivan Gramatikov
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
For permissions e-mail:

ISBN: 978-1-257-01500-9
Printed in the United States of America
Front cover photos: Courtesy of Balkancar Record (

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Chapter 1:


Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Definitions for design and system design . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Calculations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Systems of units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Symbols used in formulae and hydraulic diagrams . . . . . .

Chapter 2:

Properties and parameters of the fluids


Density . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Specific weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Specific gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Viscosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Compressibility of fluids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Reynolds number and types of flow . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Flow and flow rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Fluid velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Work and Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Drag and pressure loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic shock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Hydraulic Lock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Obliteration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Stiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Cavitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Bernoulli Equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Torricelli Equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 3:

Hydraulic system components


Flow Restrictors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pressure Relief Valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Check Valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Reduction Valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pressure Compensated Flow Controls . . . . . . . . . . .
Directional Control Valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Pumps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Cylinders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pressure Sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Accumulators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Reservoirs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Lines, Fittings and Couplings . . . . . . . . . .
Manifold blocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hydraulic Fluid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fluid Cleanliness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Electric Motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 4:

Management and quality of hydraulic system

design process
Brief history of quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Structuring the design process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Definitions of tools used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Description of the design process steps . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Design guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Documenting the design activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Project close-out criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Failure and failure rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Patents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Designing around an existing patent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Legal aspect of the design process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 5:

Hydraulic systems for high lift trucks


Elevating system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic systems overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Design principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Design requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic system with proportional manual directional valve 133

Calculations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic system with electrically controlled proportional

valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic system with emergency lowering . . . . . . . . . .


Energy recovery systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic steering system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Electro-hydraulic steering system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Integrated hydraulic system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Smoothness of the lifting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 6:

Hydraulic systems for low lift trucks



Hydraulic system with independent power steering

and lift circuits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Integrated hydraulic systems for low lift trucks . . . . . . . .


Integrated hydraulic system with accumulator . . . . . . . .


Hydraulic system for pallet trucks with long fork attachments 194
Hydraulic power-assisted steering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Integrated system with power-assisted steering . . . . . . .


Chapter 7:

Hydraulic systems for boom-type trucks 201

Hydraulic circuit for boom lift, extend and fork tilt . . . . . . .


Hydraulic lift & lower circuit for telescopic boom . . . . . . .


Hydraulic circuit with an automatic shut-off valve . . . . . .


High-speed extension of telescopic boom . . . . . . . . . . . .


Chapter 8:

Selected topics


Servicing the hydraulic systems . . . . . . . .


Troubleshooting principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Safety Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing the fluid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing reservoirs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing rotary pumps and motors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing hydraulic cylinders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing valves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Servicing connectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Seals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Components layout- general considerations



Common problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Contamination of the hydraulic fluid . . . . . .



The future of the hydraulics . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Appendix A

ITA classification

Appendix B

Physical properties of common fluids

Appendix C

Viscosity Classification of Industrial Lubrication


Appendix D

Coefficients of local resistance

Appendix E

Decision Matrix and QFD house

Appendix F

Hydraulic system calculation


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Chapter 1

The purpose of this book is to illustrate design principles and methods for
designing and calculating hydraulic systems for industrial lift trucks.
Determining the main parameters of these systems is based on principles
of hydraulics and mechanics. This book is to be used as a source of
information for mechanical engineers involved in designing, manufacturing
and servicing hydraulic systems for mobile lift trucks. This book can also be
used by engineering students in Industrial Truck Programs. To combine
these two purposes, there is an introductory chapter, Properties and
Parameters of Hydraulic Fluid, and a chapter on Hydraulic Components
describing the construction and the functions of components used in mobile
hydraulic systems. This book will also be beneficial for engineers working in
areas of design, fabrication and service of any other mobile off-highway
In all universities, mechanical engineering students study the theoretical
foundations of fluid mechanics, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics.
However few universities offer courses in hydraulics and pneumatics (also
called: fluid power), which are the applications of these disciplines. That is
why most design engineers learn the basics of the fluid power on the job.
Fluid power learning time can be reduced significantly if some basic
hydraulic principles are understood up front. This book will describe the
hydraulic principles and operation of the main hydraulic arrangements
which will give you the foundation for designing any system on your own.
It is more difficult to design hydraulic systems for smaller lift trucks. That is
because these systems must have the same performance as the bigger
trucks but they have to be put into a smaller space envelope. The smaller
design envelope is a major challenge to the design engineers. To meet this
and all other challenges through the design process, engineers have to
follow the principles of continuous improvement and design process quality.
Quality of the design process depends on the proper execution of each step

Chapter 1: Introduction

of the process. The proper execution requires knowledge in engineering

and management areas. The core necessary disciplines are: Mathematics,
Mechanics of the Fluids, Hydraulic Circuits and Components, Management
of Quality, Project Management, Design for Excellence and Professional
Communication. Some of these courses, in most of the engineering
programs, are not part of the engineering curriculum and therefore,
engineers must take extra courses in order to acquire the right set of
Chapter 4, Management and Quality of the Design Process, describes the
managerial aspect and the basic principles of the design process.

Definitions for design and system design

The best design is the simplest one that works Albert Einstein
Design is creative problem solving.
System design is finding the balance in system performance that
best satisfies the engineering requirements. This balance has to be
achieved first at the conceptual level and then maintained throughout
the whole design process.

Design of hydraulic systems is built on knowledge of several fundamental

principles. Most fluid power engineers have them as background
knowledge and do not even think about them. For people learning
hydraulics, knowing the fundamental principles is the first step to designing
energy and cost efficient systems. The milestones of the hydraulic
principles are:
Knowledge of properties and parameters of the fluids
Velocity-pressure relationship (Bernoulli equation)
Knowledge of the hydraulic components
Fluid properties, fluid parameters and the Bernoulli equation are described
in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 describes the components used in the system.
Good system designs would also require knowledge of:

The engineering requirements (parameters) for the system

Factors affecting system functionality and system life
Constraints- cost, space, surrounding environment

When designing a system, the engineer must focus on four main aspects:

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

First: maximizing the system efficiency and the system life.

In order to achieve this requirement, the design engineer has to select the
components of the hydraulic system so that they will work together in a way
leading to maximum system efficiency.
Second: design for manufacturability and assembly
Third: design for test and service
Fourth: design a cost effective system
These four aspects are described in chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7.
In addition to designing the hydraulic system, the system engineer has to
also consider how the system interacts with other systems (mechanical,
electrical, control), type of vehicle (ICE or electric) and the ergonomic
consequences of the design (the interaction of the system with the people).
A definition of system engineering is given by the International Council of
System Engineers (INCOSE)
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable
the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer
needs and required functionality early on in the development cycle,
documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and
system validation while considering the complete problem. System
engineering integrates all the disciplines and specialty groups into a team
effort forming a structured development process that proceeds from
concept to production to operation. System engineering considers both the
business and the technical needs of all customers with the goal of providing
a quality product that meets the user needs.

In some countries, such as Canada, the engineering profession is selfregulated through provincial organizations. The governing body is
comprised of engineers chosen, through a voting process, by members of
the engineering organization.
In other countries, such as the USA, the state governments regulate the
licensing, the practices of the profession and approve the governing body of
the engineering organizations.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Professional organizations develop standards for minimum qualification,

professional ethics and practices. They are also involved in the mediation of

Clarity and accuracy of the technical calculations are an important part of a
system design. All data, assumptions, mathematical and physical laws have
to be specified clearly. Calculations are an intellectual asset for a company.
Therefore any other engineer with the same background should be able to
understand and use them. This reduces the development time of future
projects and helps to bring new products to market in a shorter time. A
good practice is to put all calculations on a server in HTML or PDF format.
European countries (except the United Kingdom) use a comma as a
decimal marker. The UK, the USA and English speaking provinces of
Canada use a period as a decimal marker. In this book, since it is written in
English, I am going to use a period.

Systems of Units
International System (SI) of units
This system was adopted in 1960 at the Eleventh General Conference on
Weights and Measures as an international standard. SI is accepted by all
countries in Europe and most countries in the world. In the future, it is
expected to replace all other systems and to be used by all countries.
In this book we will primarily use SI units.
British Systems of Units
British Gravitational (BG) System
In the past, the BG system was used in the English speaking countries. In
the BG system the unit of length is foot (ft), the unit of force is pound (lb),
the unit of mass is obscure (slug) and the unit of temperature is degree
Fahrenheit (F).

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Fahrenheit (F) = [Celsius (C) x 9/5] + 32

Celsius (C) = [Fahrenheit (F) 32] x 5/9
English Engineering (EE) System
The units in the EE system are similar to the units in the BG system. The
unit of length is foot (ft), the unit of mass is pound mass (lbm), the unit of
force is pound force (lbf) and the absolute temperature scale is degree
Rankine (R).
The equation used to convert slugs to pounds is:

slug =


There are two gallons: British and US gallon

1 British gallon = 4.546 litters
1 US gallon = 3.785 litters

Symbols used in formulae and hydraulic diagrams

Latin alphabet

Area [m2]

Diameter [m]


Pump displacement [cm3/rev]


Hydraulic motor displacement [cm3/rev]


Bulk Modulus of Elasticity (Bulk Modulus)

Force [N]

Gravity force [N]


Flow rate, weight [N/s]

Height, distance [m]


Length or distance [m]

Mass (kg)

Chapter 1: Introduction

Mach number [-]

Rotational speed (frequency of rotation) [rev/min]

Power [Nm/s] and [W]

Pressure [N/ m2] and [Pa]

Flow rate, volumetric [m3/s] and [L/min]

Flow rate, mass [kg/s]


Lineal flow resistor


Reynolds Number [-]


Specific gravity [-]

Temperature [C]

Torque [Nm]

Velocity [m2/s]

Volume [m3] and [litter]

Work [Nm], [J]

Greek alphabet

Angle [rad], []

Angle [rad], []

Specific weight [N/m3]


Angular acceleration [rad/s2]


Angle [rad], []

Dynamic (absolute) viscosity [Pa.s]

Kinematic viscosity [m2/s], [St]

Specific volume (m3/kg)
Density [kg/m3]


Specific Gravity [-]

Shear stress [N/m2] and [Pa]

Angular velocity [rad/s]

Angle [rad], []

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Hydraulic symbols

Work line (suction, pressure and return)


Pilot line

Flexible line

Crossing lines, junction

Crossing lines, not connected

Plugged line


Reservoir, open

Reservoir, pressurized



Chapter 1: Introduction

Pressure gage


Flow meter

Foot operated

Hand operated

Spring operated

Electrical control

Electrical control, proportional

Pump, constant volume, one direction of flow

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Pump, variable volume

Pump, pressure compensated

Hydraulic motor, one direction of flow

Hydraulic motor, reversible flow

Pump- motor, reversible flow

Flow restrictor (orifice) fixed

Flow restrictor (orifice) variable

Flow control, pressure compensated, two-way

Flow control, pressure compensated, three-way


Chapter 1: Introduction

Pressure relief valve

Relief valve, proportional with indirect (pilot)


Pressure reduction valve

Check valve

Pressure switch

Steering valve, type Orbitrol

Torque generator

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 2

Properties and Parameters of the Fluids

Fluid in general is any existing liquid or gas. In lift truck hydraulic, brake
and steering systems, only liquids are used as working fluids.
The science of Mechanics of Fluids consists of Hydrostatics and
Hydrostatics is based on Pascal's law, which states that a confined liquid
that has a pressure placed on it will act with equal force on equal areas at
right angles to the area. In Hydrostatic drives, the power is transmitted on
the bases of applying pressure on the fluid or by the fluids potential
In Hydrodynamic drives, the power is transmitted by the kinetic energy of
the fluid.

Density of the fluid is defined as its mass per unit volume containing the

m kg
V m 3



is mass of the fluid in a unit (kg)

is unit volume of the fluid (m3)

In SI system density has units of kg/m3). It is designated by the Greek

letter (rho). In BG system density is expressed in slug/ft3 where the
mass is in slugs.



Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

[ slug ] , WO is the weight in pounds at sea level

A common reference for fluids is the density of water at 4C temperature:


H 2O = 1000 3
A common reference for non-liquids is the density of iron:


IRON = 7850 3 or IRON = 7.85 3

Density can also be expressed as:

1 kg
v m 3



is specific volume (m3/kg)

Unlike gases, the density of the fluids depends little on pressure and
temperature. Densities of different fluids are given in Appendix B.

Specific Weight
Specific weight is a characteristic for bodies under the influence of the
gravitational field. The gravitational field is not a force (because it is
massless) but it produces a force when it interacts with mater. As a result,
mater receives a gravitational acceleration which does not depend on the
physical state of the mass.
Specific weight of fluid is equal to the product of fluid density () and
gravitational acceleration g = 9.806 m/s (g = 32.174 ft/s). It is defined as
fluid weight per unit volume containing it.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


= g 3


Specific weight is designated by the Greek letter (gamma). In the SI

system it has units of N/m3 or kN/m3. In the BG system the units for
specific weight are lb/ft.
The intensity of the gravitational field is stronger at sea level and
diminishes farther away from earth which means that the gravitational
acceleration changes. For engineering application the variation of the
gravitation (g) is neglected therefore, only the variation in the fluid density
causes variation in its specific weight. Specific weights of different fluids
are given in Appendix B.

Specific Gravity
Specific Gravity is the ratio of the density of the fluid to the density of the
water at the same temperature.

SG =


H 2O

Specific Gravity is a dimensionless parameter and it has the same values

in both SI and BG systems.

Viscosity of the fluid is a measure of resistance against friction between
fluid layers. It is related to the velocity gradient (
stress ( ) by the equation:


dy )

and the shear


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids




Where, the constant of proportionality, (mu), is called dynamic (or

absolute) viscosity of the fluid. Fluids, for which the velocity gradient is
linearly related to shearing stress, are called Newtonian fluids (all
common fluids). Graphically, the slope of shearing stress vs. velocity
gradient is equal to the viscosity. The value of the viscosity depends on
the fluid chemical content and temperature. In most fluid problems,
viscosity is combined with the density in the equation:



Where, the Greek letter (nu) is called kinematic viscosity. The

dimension of kinematic viscosity in SI units is m/s.
The units Stocks (St) and Centistokes (cSt) are also used.

1St = 1cm 2 / s = 10 4 m 2 / s

1cSt = 1mm 2 / s = 10 6 m 2 / s

The values of for different fluids are given in Appendix B.

In the ISO classification system viscosity is related to ISO grade. There
are 18 viscosity grades covering a range from 2 to 1650 centistokes.
Viscosity of the ISO grades is measured at 40 C temperature. ISO
system for viscosity measurement was adopted by The American
Petroleum Institute and American Society for Testing and Materials
(ASTM). Today all petroleum companies and manufacturers use this
system as a standard for viscosity measurement. Prior to ISO adoption,
viscosity of the ASTM grades was measured at 100 F (37.8 C) in SUS
(Saybolt Universal Seconds) units.
SUS unit range

To convert to cSt units

from 32 to 99

cSt = 0.2253 x SUS - (194.4 / SUS)

from 100 to 240

cSt = 0.2193 x SUS - (134.6 / SUS)

more than 240

cSt = SUS / 4.635

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Because of the small temperature difference, ISO grades are a little more
viscous than the corresponding ASTM grades in SUS units. Viscosity
grade classification is given in Appendix C.
Another characteristic given by fluid manufacturers is the Viscosity Index
(V.I.). This index is a number that indicates changes of viscosity over
change of temperature. High V.I. means that there is little change in
viscosity with temperature change and vice versa. Fluid viscosity is a
main factor that determines the amount of friction between the fluid
layers, the boundary layers thickness along the inside walls and the
friction between metal surfaces of the hydraulic components. Viscosity
changes with the change of temperature, pressure and contamination.
When the pressure on the fluid increases, the shear stress increases
leading to viscosity increase. Also, when the fluid temperature increases
its viscosity decreases. The effect of temperature on kinematic viscosity
of some fluids is shown in Figure 2.1.

Fig. 2.1 Source: Webtec Products Ltd. (


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

Compressibility of fluids
Compressibility of a fluid is a measure of how easy a fluid volume can be
changed under pressure. Compressibility is characterized with the Bulk
Modulus of Elasticity (Bulk Modulus or Modulus of Elasticity) EV. Modulus
of Elasticity shows the resistance of the fluid to compression and is
defined as:

Ev =

dp N
dV / V m 2


dp is differential change in pressure needed to create a differential
change in volume dV;
V is the initial volume of the fluid;
V/V is specific volume.
Because the specific volume is dimensionless, Modulus of Elasticity has
the same units as pressure. The negative sign shows that an increase in
pressure will cause a decrease in volume. In SI units Ev is given as N/m
(Pa). In BG (English) units it is given as lb/in (psi). Some values of Ev are
given in Appendix B.
In the case of using hydraulic oil, the value of V/V is very small (large
Ev). For this reason, for the engineering applications we accept that fluids
are incompressible and disregard the compressibility factor. Large values
for the bulk modulus indicate that the fluid needs a great amount of
pressure to make a small change in the volume. In other words, the
bigger the number is the bigger resistance to compression the fluid has.
Modulus of Elasticity can alternatively be expressed as

Ev =

/ d

d is differential change in density of the fluid;
is initial density of the fluid.


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


For most engineering applications we consider the fluids as

incompressible. In doing so, we always have to keep in mind
compressibility factor when designing or redesigning a system. In any
hydraulic system, we have to look at not only rigidity of the fluid but also
rigidity of the whole system. Bulk Modulus of the fluid is one of the main
factors that determine the rigidity of the system. There are a number of
cases when compressibility must be considered.

Compressing and decompressing large fluid volumes in hydraulic

actuators such as piston cylinders.
Presence of air in the fluid. Presence of air decreases fluid Bulk
Modulus, which in turn increases compressibility of the whole
system. Contents of 1% insoluble air can reduce Ev with 40%.
Presence of air in the fluid usually is caused by improperly
designed reservoir, incorrect selection of hydraulic components or
damaged suction line.
Use of an accumulator in the system.

For lift truck hydraulic systems compressibility is considered a negative

characteristic because it reduces the rigidity of the system. Volume
reduction as a result of compressibility of hydraulic oil is approximately
1% for every 15 MPa (2000 psi) pressure. Fig. 2.2 shows the relationship
between Bulk Modulus E v and the temperature for two types of fluid.

Fig. 2.2


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

Reynolds Number and Types of Flow

Fluid flow can be laminar, turbulent or a mixture of both. The factor that
determines which type of flow is present is the ratio of inertia forces (vs)
to viscous forces (/L) within the fluid. This ratio is expressed by the nondimensional Reynolds Number:


Re =


V is velocity characteristic
L is lineal characteristic
is the dynamic (absolute) fluid viscosity
is fluid density
When the flow is in a pipe with a circular cross-section, the lineal
characteristic L is equal to the pipe diameter D. Then the equation can be
written as:

Re =


We can also express the equation with the kinematic viscosity =

Re =




This number is named after Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912), who

proposed it in 1883.
Laminar flow is characterized with smooth flow and parallel layers. It
occurs when the viscous forces are dominant (low Re number). Turbulent
flow is characterized with turbulent behavior and whirlpools in flow and it
occurs when the inertial forces are dominant (high Re number). For
Reynolds Numbers up to 2000, the flow is laminar. Above Reynolds
Number of 4000, the flow is completely turbulent. Between Re 2000 and

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


4000, the flow is transitional (between laminar and turbulent) and it has
elements of both flow types. For flows within circular pipes the critical
Reynolds number is generally accepted to be 2320.

Pressure is the normal force per unit area at a given point within the fluid.
For most engineering problems we assume that the fluid moves as a rigid
body (dealing with fluid at rest) therefore there is no shearing stress in it.
So, the only forces acting on the fluid are pressure and weight. This
allows us to obtain relatively simple solutions to most engineering
Pressure distribution (for incompressible fluids) is called hydrostatic

p1 = h + p2


h = z1 z2 is the vertical distance from a point with pressure p1 to a point
with pressure p2. This distance is called pressure head and it is
interpreted as the height of a column of fluid of specific weight required
to give a pressure difference (p1 - p2). If we have a surface exposed to
the atmospheric pressure it is convenient to use a point on this surface as
reference point 2. Thus, we let: p2=p0.
In SI, unit pressure is expressed as Pa (Pascal), where: 1Pa=1N/m. In
some cases we use the unit bar (1bar = 0.1 MPa).
In BG, units are lb/ft or lb/in (psi). The relationship between the metric
and the English systems is: 1 bar = 14.5 psi


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

In mobile truck hydraulic systems, positive displacement rotary pumps

are used to create pressure. A disadvantage of using these type pumps is
that they create pressure and flow pulsations in the discharge port.
Pressure variation in a gear pump outlet is explained in Chapter 3,
Hydraulic Pumps.
Pressure measurement
Pressure at a certain point measured relative to the local atmospheric
pressure is called gage pressure. Absolute pressure, on the other hand,
is measured relative to the perfect vacuum (absolute zero). Absolute
pressure is always positive while the gage pressure can be either positive
or negative. A negative gage pressure is also referred as a vacuum.
Hydraulic systems used in the industrial trucks are classified according to
the maximum pressure they are designed for:

Low pressure system- up to 5 MPa (< 50 bar)

Medium pressure system- from 5 to 15 MPa (50 150 bar)
Normal high pressure system- from 15 to 25 MPa (150 250 bar)
High pressure system- from 25 to 40 MPa (250 400 bar)

Flow and flow rate

Flow is the motion of the fluid molecules from one point to another. Since
the observation of all molecules is almost impossible, we are describing
the flow as motion of part of the fluid, called small volume (or unit
volume). Small volume contains numerous molecules. Flow is created
when a new fluid is pushed into a fluid conductor (pre-filled pipe or hose).
The molecules of the new volume push against fluid molecules already in
the conductor and displace them. Displaced molecules move by pushing
their neighbours and so on. So, the ejected fluid volume from the
conductor at the opposite end will be the same as the one entered. The
movement of fluid molecules causes a pressure wave traveling at the
speed of sound (about 1400 m/s). The speed of sound in fluids is:


Ev is the modulus of elasticity (Pa)


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


is the density (kg/m3)

For example, the speed of sound in hydraulic fluid (viscosity grade 32) is:
c = (1.7x 109 / 870)1/2 = 1398 (m/s)
The density values are given in Appendix B.
When calculating the parameters of the hydraulic hydrostatic systems we
assume that the velocity, v, at a given point in space does not vary with
time dv/dt = 0. Such flow is called: steady flow. In a system with a steady
flow, rapid closure or opening of a hydraulic component can cause
unsteady effects, which have to be considered when a hydraulic system
is designed. For example the water hammer affect, which results in loud
banging of the pipes or tubers.
There are three types of flow rate:
Volumetric flow rate, Q
Volumetric flow rate is the unit volume flow per unit time passing through
an observation cross section.

Unit _ volume V m 3
Unit _ time
t s


In SI units flow rate can be expressed either in cubic meters per minute
[m3/min] or litters per minute [l/min]. In BG units the flow rate is expressed
in gallons per minute [gpm].
In systems working with incompressible fluids we use volumetric flow rate
in the calculations. In our further calculations, we are going to use
exclusively this type flow rate.
Mass flow rate, q
Mass flow rate is the unit mass per unit time


Unit _ mass m kg
Unit _ time
t s



Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

It can also be defined as:

q = Q, [kg / s ]

In BG units, mass flow rate is expressed as [slug/sec] or [slug/min].

Weight flow rate, G
Weight flow rate is the unit gravitational force per unit time

GQ =

Unit _ force F N
Unit _ time
t s


It can be defined as:

GQ = gQ, [ N / s ]


In BG, weight mass flow rate is expressed as [lb/sec] and [lb/min].

An example of flow rate distribution after the pump is shown at Fig. 2.3.
The deviation in the flow rate is defined as:


Fig. 2.3

Q Qmin
100 = max
100 _[%]


is the flow rate mean value.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Fluid Velocity
Fluid velocity, in pipes is:


Q m
A s


Where, Q [m/s] is the volumetric flow rate passing through a cross

section with area A [m2].
Designers must always consider velocity of flow through the pipes and
hoses and maintain the flow velocity within recommended limits.
Exceeding maximum flow rate limits may cause turbulence in the flow
and reduce the efficiency of the system. The recommended flow
velocities are shown in Chapter 3.14 (Hydraulic Connectors).

Work and Power

Work, as we know from the course of Mechanics, is defined as force (F)
acting through a distance (x).

W = Fx [Nm]


In hydraulics, we also apply force, F, to move a fluid volume at distance x.

The force is equal to the pressure applied on a surface area.

F = pA [N ]


If we replace the force in the equation 2.19, work can be expressed as:

W = pAx [Nm]



Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

If we further replace V = Ax [m], we receive the formula most commonly

used for solving fluid power problems.

W = pV [Nm]


Where, V is the fluid volume.

In SI units work is expressed in Newton meters [Nm] or in Joules
( 1J = 1Nm )
Power is work per unit time


W Nm
t s


In the SI units power is expressed in Watts [W], where:

1W = 1 Nm/s = 1 J/s.
If we replace work with pressure multiplied by volume (equation 2.22), the
equation (2.23) can be expressed as:


= pQ [W ]




V m3
[ ] is the flow rate;

p [Pa]

is the pressure.

The most convenient form of this formula for calculating the input power
on the pump shaft is:


[kW ]
60 P

Where the units are:


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


is flow rate in the pump outlet

p [MPa ]

is pressure at the pump outlet


P = 0.8 0.9 is pumps overall efficiency

Power, in Hydrostatics, is transmitted on the bases of applying pressure
on the fluid or by the fluid. First, the pump transmits energy to the fluid,
and then the fluid transmits it to the actuators.
Energy is the capacity to do work and it is expressed in the same units as
work. We know that energy cannot be created or lost. In other words, we
cannot get something without giving up something else. We can only
transfer energy from one form to another and from one point to other. In
mobile hydraulic systems, the fluid transfers energy from one location
(the hydraulic pump) to another location (linear or rotary actuator). We
put energy into the system and get energy out of the system, but there
are always losses of energy due to friction, heat loss, etc. So, we can
never get out more energy than we put in. Energy that we lose to friction
is not lost to the universe; it is simply transformed to heat.
Drag and pressure loss
Drag is a force (in a direction opposite to the flow) due to the shear forces
along the fluid layers. As we know, any fluid moving inside hydraulic lines
(tubes or hoses) experience drag. Total drag is a function of the
magnitude of the shear stress, , and the orientation of the surface on
which it acts.
Pressure loss is the energy that hydraulic fluid loses to overcome the
friction between the moving fluid layers inside the hydraulic lines (pipes,
tubes or hoses). The pressure loss is quantified as a pressure drop.
Pressure drop is influenced by a number of factors such as: fluid velocity
through the hydraulic components and connectors, fluid viscosity,
hydraulic line inside wall roughness, etc.


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

Lineal pressure loss

Lineal pressure loss is the pressure loss of laminar flow (with Re<2320)
moving along the straight sections of the pipes. For laminated flow the
pressure loss (pressure drop) due to friction is calculated with the D'ArcyWeisbach equation:

p L =

l 2
(v )
d 2



l is the length of the pipe;

d is the diameter of the pipe;
v = Q/A is average flow velocity in the pipe;
[lambda] is the coefficient of lineal flow resistance.


, for round cross sections n=1


In many cases, pressure drop (pL) for different lengths can be

determined faster graphically by using nomograms. There are two type
nomograms for determining: 1) in straight pipes and 2) in flexible hose.
Local pressure loss
Local pressure loss is a result of turbulence in the fluid when the flow
changes its direction and velocity. This turbulence occurs inside hydraulic
Local resistance occurs in the hydraulic fittings and it is a result of a
change in the flow speed and direction. The pressure drop is calculated
with the formula:

pT =

(v )2


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


v = Q/A is the flow velocity at the outlet of the component;
[Zeta] is the coefficient of local flow resistance.
Zeta depends on the geometrical shape, cross section and surface
roughness of the local restrictor. Approximate values of Zeta are given in
Table 2.1, Appendix D.

Hydraulic Shock
A Hydraulic Shock is also called: water hammer. It is caused by quick
closure of the hydraulic component causing pressure increases in the
pressure side of the closing element. When the free flow is closed the
kinetic energy of the moving fluid is transformed to potential energy,
which in turn creates a pressure wave (shock wave). In order to absorb
shock waves due to valve closure we use flexible hydraulic hoses as
hydraulic lines. In the full power brake systems where hydraulic lines are
metal tubing and a brake valve is used to redirect fluid to the wheel
cylinders, the shock waves can be absorbed by an accumulator.

Hydraulic Lock
One of the most common causes for failures in plunger type valves is
excessive frictional force between the plunger and the housing. Frictional
force (Fr) is due to uneven pressure distribution in valve clearances (fig.
2.4a). Different pressures on both sides of the plunger create a force
perpendicular to the plunger axis. This force pushes the plunger off its
center position against the housing increasing friction between internal
surfaces. Friction force higher than the control force causes seizing of the
plunger. This failure is called hydraulic lock. Valve designers add
balancing grooves to equalize the pressure distribution around the
plunger circumference (fig. 2.4b).


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids












Fig. 2.4






It has been determined experimentally that flow rates through very small
openings can gradually diminish and become zero. This phenomenon is
called obliteration. It is caused by the adhesion forces between metal
surface and the fluid which results in the buildup of layers of molecules on
the surface. Adhesion force is an interaction at an atomic level and
depends on the chemical composition of the fluid. Experiments show that
obliteration exists in openings smaller than 0.01 mm and causes both
surfaces to stick together plugging the opening. When the opening is
plugged, the plunger is seized. This condition appears in plunger type
hydraulic components with small internal clearances. To eliminate the
stickiness and seizure of the valve, the plunger is subjected to vibrations
with frequency higher than 30 Hz. The high frequency input to the valve is
called dither signal.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The term stiction is created by combining the words stick and friction.
Stiction occurs when the static friction force is higher than the moving
force. It measures the spool resistance to initial motion.

Cavitation in fluids is a process of formation and collapse of air or vapour
bubbles. This leads to micro jets of oil pounding and eroding adjacent
surfaces. Cavitation occurs when the absolute pressure of the fluid
becomes close to zero. Cavitation also occurs when the pressure drop is
enough that at a given temperature the air in the fluid starts to evaporate.
In this case we say that the pressure becomes equal to the vapor tension
of the fluid.
When cavitation is formed at the suction of the pump, several things
happen all at once.

The system experiences a loss in capacity

The system can no longer build the same head (pressure)
The efficiency drops
The cavities or bubbles will collapse when they pass into the
higher regions of pressure causing noise, vibration, and damage to
many of the components.

The five basic reasons that form cavitation are:

Air ingestion
Internal recirculation
Flow turbulence
Vane Passing Syndrome

Cavitation can have several root causes related to system and

component design issues or related to service.
1. Tank design issues. Whirlpools in the tank churn the air into the oil or
simply don't allow air to be released from the oil. This can be caused by
turbulence in the returned fluid, low fluid level, reservoir that is not deep
enough, lack of proper baffling, etc.


Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

2. Suction-line leaks. Leaks between the tank and the pump can
introduce air into the system. Often this is associated with the shaft seal
at the pump that allows air to leak in.
3. Suction-line restriction. Sometimes suction lines are too long, too
narrow or they are plugged (e.g., a plugged suction strainer).
4. Water vapor. When hot oils become contaminated with water,
superheated seam will form vapor bubbles in the oil.
5. Insufficient head. Depending on oil viscosity and suction line
conditions, the pump must be located at a sufficiently low elevation to
enable oil to flow steadily from the tank to the inlet port of the pump.
6. Air release problems. As oils age and become contaminated, its air
release properties become impaired. This means that once air bubbles
are formed they stay locked into the oil and do not detrain out of the oil in
the reservoir. Moisture contamination and oxidation are the main
originators of this problem. ASTM D3427 is a test for air release
7. High viscosity. When fluid temperature in the reservoir is too low, the
viscosity may be too high to enable proper oil flow in the suction line and
into the pump. Any other cause of high fluid viscosity can lead to the
same problem.

The Bernoulli Equation

The Bernoulli equation is a statement that the total pressure (pT) along a
streamline remains constant (fig. 2.5). The assumption is that the fluid is
incompressible and steady. Therefore, if the equation is applied for gases
there will be an error built into it.


2 + z = pT = const.


First term p is the static pressure

Second term

2 is

the dynamic pressure. The dynamic pressure is

the kinetic energy of the particle.

Third term

z = gz

is the weight of the fluid

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The most popular engineering application of the above equation is when

the equation is applied between two points on a steam line.

p1 +

1 2 + z1 = p 2 + 2 2 + z 2


Fig. 2.5
The Bernoulli equation was formulated it in 1738 by the Dutch born
mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782).

The Torricelli Equation

The Torricelli equation can be derived from the Bernoulli equation when
the equation 2.29 is applied to a stream in a vessel with one free surface
and one outlet nozzle (fig. 2.6)

Fig. 2.6



Chapter 2: Properties and parameters of the fluids

p1 +

1 2 + z1 = p 2 + 2 2 + z 2

at the surface is very small therefore, 1 becomes negligibly small

and it can be ignored. Pressures p1 and p2 are equal to zero because
they are equal to the atmospheric pressure.

Then, the equation can be simplified to

( z1 z 2 ) =

2 2

When we replace the specific weight

= g , we receive

2 = 2 gh


This equation is called Torricelli's Theorem. It is named after the scientist

and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli who in 1843 proved that the flow
of liquid through an opening is proportional to the square root of the
height of the liquid.
Torricelli equation 2.26 can be used to find the flow rate

Q = A 2 gh

Q = A

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 3

Hydraulic Components
Hydraulic components can be grouped according to their function:
Hydraulic valves are grouped into three general categories: pressure
controls, flow controls and directional controls. Some valves can have
multiple functions and can fall into more than one category. The most
important valve characteristics are flow and pressure drop in the valve.
Flow can be calculated based on the port diameter and the flow velocity.
Pressure drop is more difficult to calculate accurately. That is why it is
usually determined experimentally by the manufacturer.
Based on the construction, the valves can be plunger or cartridge.
Cartridge valves are a screw-in type, which offer the designers the
potential of incorporating the valves into manifold blocks or the body of
other hydraulic components, such as cylinders.
This group consists of pumps, motors and cylinders. Actuators convert
fluid energy into mechanical energy or vice versa.
In this group are: Pressure and vacuum switches, accumulators, filters and
Hydraulic reservoirs
There are two main types of reservoirs- open and closed. The hydraulic
systems for industrial trucks use open type reservoirs.
Hydraulic fluid
The fluid is the single most important component of the hydraulic system.
Its main function is to transmit energy.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

In general, all hydraulic components introduce noise, vibration and losses

into the system. In order to select them properly we have to understand
their design, function and performance as a separate unit and as part of a
When a component is used, there is always less energy out than energy in.
In order to minimize the losses and the component cost, the components
have to be sized per system requirements. Over-sizing will increase the
component cost while under-sizing will increase the energy losses.


Flow Restrictors (Orifices)

Flow restrictors (orifices) are local restrictions to the flow. It can be

adjustable or non-adjustable. It is also called variable and fixed orifice.

Flow restrictor (orifice) fixed

Flow restrictor (orifice) variable

Although, all hydraulic restrictors create some degree of turbulence, they
can be lineal or turbulent depending on the type of flow passing though the
Lineal is when L>d and the flow is predominantly

Turbulent is when L</=d and the flow is mainly

L = length of the orifice and d = diameter of the orifice

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


In hydraulic schematics usually the lineal orifice symbol is used. The

hydraulic restrictor is shown as turbulent in cases when we want to show
that the pressure drop does not depend on the fluid viscosity.
A disadvantage of the lineal restrictor is that its resistance (RL) changes
with the temperature change of the fluid.
The main function of orifices is to restrict flow and create a pressure drop in
the system. They are used to control the actuators (motors, cylinders)
speed. Although orifices main function is to create a pressure drop, they
are also called: flow controls. It is important not to confuse them with the
pressure compensated flow regulators which can also be called flow
controls. Both flow controls have different symbols and the best practice to
distinguish them is to look at the components symbol.
Pressure drop, p , in the orifice is proportional to the flow rate Q . Pressure
drop is calculated with the formula 2.26 or 2.28 (Chapter 2) depending on
the type of flow.
When the relationship between the pressure losses and flow rate is nearly
lineal, it can be expressed as:

p = RL Q



is the flow rate through the restrictor

p = p1 p2 is pressure drop across the restrictor


is orifice resistance

In a system with an orifice, usually there is a varying pressure, p2, after the
restrictor is determined by the variation in resistance of the actuator.
The main flow restrictor characteristic is based on equations 2.26 and 2.28
and it is called: the flow-pressure drop characteristic. An experimental
graph of such a characteristic is shown in Fig. 3.1


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Orifice Flow-Pressure drop Characteristic


Pressure drop (MPa)







Flow (l/min)

Fig. 3.1 Orifice flow-pressure characteristics


Pressure Relief Valves

Pressure relief valves (also called: relief valves) are pressure control type
valves. It is normally closed until it starts to operate. After the pressure is
increased, the valve opens and the plunger (poppet or ball) finds a balance
position. The balance is created between the pressure on one side and
spring force on the other. The valve plunger can have infinite positions
between closed and fully opened conditions. The relief valves main
function is to protect the system against excessive pressure. It is usually

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


installed between the pressure line, after the pump, and the return line
before the tank. Relief valves can be adjustable or non-adjustable. Valves
are adjusted by changing the spring pre-compression.
There are three types of balancing/closing elements: ball, poppet and spool
(plunger). The balancing element used determines the type of the valve.
Valves can be divided into two groups 1) Ball and Poppet and 2) Spool
Ball and Poppet Valves
Ball and poppet valves are usually used for the construction of cartridge
valves. Cartridge valves are less expensive and have higher flow rates than
the same physical size spool valves. Ball and poppet valves are less
susceptible to fluid contamination because when closed, the valve moving
part is held tightly against a seat in the housing. On the other hand, they
are more sensitive to flow and pressure irregularity. Their positioning is less
balanced than spool valves, which leads to less accurate metering.
Spool Valves
Spool valves are easier to control and can move at smaller steps because it
is easier to proportionally control the stroke of the spool. On the other hand,
they are more expensive and more susceptible to contamination. Spool
valves have higher leakage rates than poppet valves.


Check Valves

Check valves are unidirectional control valves. They have two positions:
ON or OFF. This valve has free-flow (open) and no-flow (close) direction.
When the flow pushes the ball (or the poppet) away, the valve opens and
permits free flow. Flow in the opposite direction pushes the ball against the
seat. The built-up pressure keeps the passage sealed and the flow is
blocked. These types of valves are designed to have a very small leakage
rate when they are closed. Usually, valve seats are hardened steel which
makes them more resistible to scoring from hard contaminants in the fluid.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

The only difference between the check valve and the ball relief valve is the
spring. Check valves have light springs which are used only to return the
ball (poppet) to its seat when the flow stops. Because of the light spring, the
pressure drop in the valve during operation is very small (about 0.05 to 0.1
MPa). There are three general check valve designs: plunger, poppet and
ball design.
The check valve has a relatively small effect on system noise, vibration and
losses. When the check valve is built into another hydraulic component, the
pressure loss from it is included in the total pressure loss of the main
component. When we use an in-line check valve, it is acceptable to
disregard the pressure loss in it. Therefore, it is very important not to
undersize the valve. Undersizing it will increase the pressure drop, leading
to inaccuracy in the calculated pressure demand.
Check valves can have an internal or external pilot control. Fig. 3.2 shows
two valves with pilot ports.




Fig. 3.2 a) pilot-to-open

b) pilot-to-close

Pilot-to-open can be opened by external pressure. When there is no

pressure in the pilot port, this valve allows flow only in one direction. When
pressure is applied in the pilot, the flow can pass in both directions. The
amount of pilot pressure required to open the check valve is:





is the pressure on the poppet due to spring force

r is the pilot ratio. It is the ratio of pilot piston area to poppet area.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Pilot-to-close also allows flow only in one direction in the absence of pilot
pressure. When pilot pressure is applied from the pilot port, it overrides the
free flow function and holds the valve closed. This feature is useful to
control regenerative flow in a cylinder circuit or in a hydraulic logic circuit.
Minimum pilot pressure required to close the valve is:



r is the pilot ratio

Two check valves can be combined together.

Fig. 3.3 Dual pilot check valve

Dual pilot operated check valve is used for load holding applications or
cylinder locking.


Reduction Valves

A reduction valve is a pressure control type of valve. Its function is to
reduce pressure and maintain a pre-set lower pressure value in the outlet.
The valve maintains a constant pressure in the outlet regardless of
pressure and flow rate changes in the inlet. This valve is normally open.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Principle of operation
Flow passes through an opening between a balanced plunger (spool) and
housing. Pressure in the outlet is applied under the valve plunger through
internal connection. A spring force, acting on the other side, balances the
plunger. When the pressure in the outlet increases, the plunger is pushed
up and the opening is reduced which, in turn, reduces the flow through the
valve. Spring chamfer is connected to the reservoir therefore external drain
to the reservoir is required for this valve.


Pressure Compensated Flow Controls

The Pressure Compensating Flow Controls function is to regulate flow rate

regardless of the system working pressure. These valves are also shortly
called: Flow Controls or Flow Regulators.
The flow rate is usually used to control an actuators speed. The valve can
be placed before or after the actuator.

Two-way flow control

Three-way flow control

Construction of two-way flow controls
This valve has two parts: a pressure balanced plunger and an orifice
connected in series. It is called two-way because it has two ports. The
balanced plunger (between point 1 and 2) controls the opening to maintain
a constant pressure drop across the orifice. The flow through the valve is
controlled by the orifice (between point 2 and 3) and the pressure drop p =
p2 p3 (Fig. 3.4 a). The valve will maintain a constant flow rate from point 1
to point 2 within a specified pressure range. The valve regulates the flow
rate only in one direction from point 1 (valve inlet) to point 3 (valve outlet).

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Pressure in point 1 must be higher than the pressure in point 3. When the
flow is reversed, from outlet to the inlet, the valve simply acts as a flow


Fig. 3.4 Two-way flow controls: a) balanced valve before the orifice, b)
balanced valve after the orifice.
The flow equation through the orifice is:

Q = A


is the flow coefficient
A is the area of the orifice opening
p is the pressure drop in the orifice
The only variable in flow equation is the pressure drop (p). The purpose of
the pressure balanced valve is to maintain a constant p which ensures a
constant flow rate (Q) through the orifice. The flow is as a function of the

pressure drop in the valve, Q = f ( p ) which can be obtained

experimentally. Flow rate vs. pressure drop relationship determines valve
performance and it is called: Flow regulator static characteristic (shown in
Fig. 3.5). Because of the nonlinear relationship between the flow and the
pressure drop across the valve, the flow rate diverges slightly (the curve is
never perfectly horizontal).


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

In the hydraulic systems, the nearly constant flow rate is used to achieve
speeds of the hydraulic actuators which are independent from the pressure
variations. In mobile forklifts it is mainly used to maintain a constant
lowering speed of the load. A hydraulic system using this valve is described
in Chapter 5 (Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks).

Flow (l/min)









Pressure drop, delta p (MPa)

Fig. 3.5 Flow regulator static characteristic


Directional Control Valves

Directional valves control the direction of the flow path. These valves can
be classified on the basis of the number of possible ways the fluid can go.
Most common types are 2-way, 3-way, 4-way or 5-way valves.
Based on the neutral position of the valve plunger, there are three basic
valve configurations shown in Fig 3.6 (a, b, c)

Open center, a), is when the plunger is at a neutral position and the
inlet flow is open to all ports.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Close center, b), is when the plunger is at a neutral position and the
flow is blocked.
Tandem center, c), is when the plunger is at a neutral position and
the flow is unloaded to the tank.
Two other combinations of the first three, float center d) and open-to-three
port e), are also shown in Fig 3.6

Fig. 3.6
Directional-control valves have two primary characteristics: 1) number of
ports for the fluid and 2) number of positions for the controlling element.
Valve ports are the passageway for fluid in or out of the valve. The numbers
of positions refer to the number of distinct flow paths a valve can provide.
There are three types of spool valve laps (fig. 3.7): zero, positive and
negative. Valve lap is the distance the spool travels before valve opening.
Valves with large overlaps have less leakage but they have less accurate
flow metering.

a) zero lap

b) positive lap (overlap)

c) negative lap

Fig 3.7 Spool laps

Port P (pump) is the valve inlet. Ports A and B are valve outlets. Valve is
shown in closed centered position.
In terms of plunger (spool) positioning, there are two major groups: 1)
discrete/ finite positioning 2) infinite/ proportional positioning


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Discrete positioning
Finite positioning is when the plunger is shifted from one discrete position to
another. For this reason these type valves are called discrete valves.
Plunger shift occurs in an instant, causing the fluid to rapidly accelerate or
decelerate. This causes fluid pulsations or in certain conditions it can cause
fluid hammer.

Switching time for these valves depends on the size of the coil. Actuation
time increases when the coil size and the valve size are increased. For
example the switching times of directional valves size 6 (20 l/min nominal
flow) with DC (direct current) magnet is about 40 milliseconds while the
switching time of size 10 directional valve (80 l/min nominal flow) is about
80 milliseconds.
Infinite positioning
In these valves, the plunger is shifted proportionally to the input signal. The
signal can be mechanical, electrical or hydraulic. The plunger can have
infinitive intermediate positions, which makes these types of valves ideal for
controlling speed and acceleration or deceleration of the actuators. Infinite
positioning is illustrated by adding two extra parallel lines indicating that the
plunger can slide inside the valve.

The infinite positioning directional valves can be further classified as:

Proportional Valves, Servo Valves and Load Sensing Valves.
Proportional Valves
Proportional valves provide flow and pressure control proportional to the
control input device. The control device can be either mechanical or
When an electric signal is used to control the flow rate, the flow rate
changes proportionally with the change of the signal to a solenoid. Inside a
spool type valve there is a spool (plunger), which is the only moving part.
Changing the electrical current, applied to the coil, changes the magnetic

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


field, which in turn creates a magnetic force on the armature and makes it
move. The coil is placed in a metal housing which helps to retain the
magnetic field. In most valves, a flat spring is used to resist plunger
movement. The spring retains the plunger until the magnetic force on the
armature exceeds the spring force. The main reason for the performance
variation from one valve to another is the mechanical and geometrical
tolerances that occur in the manufacturing process. Solenoid magnetic field
can be adjusted so that it compensates for mechanical tolerances.
Therefore, this valve can create a consistent relationship between the flow
rate and the electrical current to the valve.
Proportional valves can be an open-loop or a closed-loop construction.
Open-loop valves do not have feedback between the solenoid input and
the valve spool or valve output. They have a lower response time than the
closed loop valves.
Closed-loop valves have an outer loop for spool location feedback. An
outer loop can be made by connecting a LVDT sensor to the spool. A
LVDT sensor measures small changes (in the range of microns) of spool
movement and converts them to electrical signals.
Proportional valves can be spool or poppet type. Most of proportional
valves are spool type designs because they have better control and
metering capabilities. Poppet type proportional valves are less susceptible
to fluid contamination. For this reason they are mainly used in systems
subject to high contamination. To minimize the leakage from a section with
high pressure to a section with low pressure, the plunger type valves are
manufactured to have as a small gap as possible between the body and the
plunger. The servo valves have 0.001 mm to 0.004 mm internal clearances
while the discrete directional valves usually have 0.005 mm to 0.012 mm
internal clearances.
Servo valves
Servo valves have a shorter response time than standard proportional
valves. They are always closed-loop valves. There is a mechanical
feedback link between the input command and the valve output. Servo
valves usually consist of a two-stage spool. The spool position is controlled
by two electromagnetic coils- one from each side. Manufacturing tolerances
of these valves are in the range of micrometers. The tight tolerance
requirements make them expensive to manufacture. Also, the reduced


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

clearances between the valve surfaces make this type of valve susceptible
to fluid contamination which can jam the valve. Because of the high cost
and the high fluid cleanliness requirements, servo valves are rarely used in
mobile hydraulic systems. Servo valves are used in applications where
short response time is critical. For this reason they are manufactured with
zero laps or near-zero overlaps.
Servo valves can have a response time as low as 0.0025 seconds (400
hertz). Where:

1Hz =


In contrast, standard proportional valves have a response in the range of

0.1-0.2 seconds (10 - 5 hertz).
Proportional valve selection
Proportional valves are selected per maximum flow that must go through
the valve.
Proportional and servo valves execute their control through a high-pressure
drop. The valve's flow rating is usually based on a specific pressure drop.
After we select valve size, it is recommended to measure the pressure drop
across the valve. If (in our application) the pressure drop is significantly
different than the rated pressure drop of the valve, we have probably
selected the wrong valve. Usually, engineers end up with an oversized
proportional valve. If an oversized valve is selected, the hydraulic actuators
are unlikely to get the anticipated proportional performance. In most cases,
the valve will open all the way before it is supposed to, providing a different
resolution that we seek.
When selecting the valve, pressure drop should be used to calculate the
flow rate.


p B
p A

QR = valve's rated flow for our application
QOUT = output flow needed for application
pB = rated pressure drop of proportional valve
p A = actual pressure drop needed for application


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


It is recommended that designers use this method to check the flow rate of
their valve. In most cases, the flow rate they obtain through this method will
differ from the flow rate in the catalogue.

Load Sensing Priority Valves

Load sensing priority valves are simply called priority valves. They have
infinitive positioning. There are two types of priority valves: static and

Priority valve with static signal

Priority valve with dynamic signal

Load sensing priority valves are used to split the flow in open loop systems
where one branch must have a guaranteed flow supply. This valve senses
the flow requirements and provides metered priority flow to this port. The
valve has one inlet and two outlets. One of the outlets is for the controlled
fluid (CF) and the other one is for the excess fluid (EF).
Dynamic load sensing valves have faster responses than static valves.
They have a passage between CF and LS lines. This passage supplies a
continuous pressurized flow to the LS line even when the line is not used
which keeps the valve in a ready-to-respond position.
Directional valves can have direct or indirect control. Direct control is
applied directly to the valve control element. Indirect control (pilot operated
design) is when the input signal controls a small pilot valve which in turn
controls the main valve (fig. 3.8).
Electrically controlled big valves require big and expensive solenoids. To
reduce manufacture cost of these valves, they are controlled indirectly.
Small solenoids are used to control the pilot valve which sends pressurized


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

fluid to control the main valve. Some proportional valves with indirect
control have a course filter (screen) that protects the pilot stage. If a filter is
used, the filter should be replaceable or washable.



Detailed symbol
Fig. 3.8 Directional manual valve with indirect manual control


Hydraulic Pumps

Constant flow pump

Variable flow pump

Pumps are mechanical devices that convert mechanical energy into

hydraulic energy. They draw fluid from a reservoir and send it to hydraulic
actuators. There are two main types of pumps: positive displacement (vane,
piston and gear pump) and non-positive displacement (centrifugal pumps).
By definition, positive-displacement (PD) pumps displace a defined quantity
of fluid with each revolution of the pumping elements. This is done by
trapping fluid between the pumping elements and a stationary housing.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Pumping element designs include gears, lobes, rotary pistons, vanes, and
Positive displacement (PD) pumps can be either fixed or variable
displacement. Fixed displacement pumps have a constant relationship
between the flow rate and the drive shaft angular velocity. In variable
displacement pumps, the displacement can be changed so that the flow
rate can be independent from the drive shaft velocity. Gear pumps have
fixed displacement while vane and the piston pumps can be either fixed or
variable. Lift truck hydraulic systems use only PD type pumps such as:
vane pump, piston (axial and radial) pump and gear pump.
Systems with pressure up to 25 MPa usually have a gear or vane type
pumps. While high pressure systems 25 to 40 MPa (3600 6000 psi)
require using piston pumps.

Gear pumps
Gear pumps can have external or internal gear meshing. External pumps
have one or more sets of two spur gears while the internal have one or
more sets of spur and ring gear. In fork lift application external gear pump is
more popular because of the bigger selection and the lower cost.
External gear pump construction
A gear pump (Fig. 3.9) has a body in which there are two hardened steel
gears intermeshing together. One of the gears is a drive gear and the other
one is a driven gear. The drive gear is mounted on a shaft, which extends
outside and is connected to a motor. Meshing gears create two chambersthe first is the inlet (suction port) the second is the outlet (pressure port).
Rotating gears take fluid from the suction port, drive it around the gears and
push it into the pressure outlet. The highest quality gear pumps have zero
backlash gear meshing. Pumps with zero backlash meshing have high
efficiency and low noise. Pump main parameters specified by the
manufacturers are: flow rating (maximum and minimum shaft speeds),
maximum pressure rating, and the type of mounting.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Fig. 3.9 Gear pump- external gear meshing

Pump body is subject to cyclic loads due to pressurizing and depressurizing during pump operation. For this reason fatigue strength is a
main requirement for the body design. A gear pump body can be made
from die-cast aluminum alloy, aluminum alloy bar stock, cast steel or cast
iron (ductile iron). Ductile iron is usually less expensive and has better
noise and vibration dissipation than aluminum and steel however, it has the
worst heat dissipation of the three. Ductile iron and cast steel have identical
yield and tensile strengths. Ductile Irons have small volumetric changes
and retain their strength at high temperatures due to the stability of the
microstructure. For high temperature applications, ductile iron alloys with
silicon and molybdenum are used. Silicon content of 4% to 6% provides the
best combination of heat resistance and mechanical properties. Pump
bodies from cast steel and ductile iron are designed to the yield point of the
material. Aluminum pumps are designed for minimum deflection (high
rigidity) because aluminum reaches its endurance limit sooner than steel
and it has smaller plastic range and less tolerance to overload and
deflection. Aluminum body pumps are good for low-temperature
applications because at low temperatures (below 30C), aluminum has a
little change in properties (yield, tensile and impact strength). Cast iron
pumps are preferred in wide temperature rage applications because the
cast iron and the steel gears have similar expansion properties which,
reduces the thermal distortion and the internal leakages.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Although a gear pump is tolerant to system contamination, the

manufacturer must specify the acceptable contamination level. Direction of
rotation of the shaft must be shown on the pump body. The pump can be
bi-directional so that it delivers flow from either port. By using such pump,
we can eliminate the directional valve in the system. Bi-directional pumps
require a drive motor which is able to rotate in both directions. Flow is
proportional to the shaft speed therefore the relationship between the shaft
speed and the outlet flow is linear.
A gear pump can include a built-in relief valve, check valve or both. The
relief valve can be internal, fig. 3.10a, (the fluid is returned to pump inlet) or
it can have external relief port, fig. 3.10b, (the fluid is returned to reservoir).


Fig. 3.10a

Fig. 3.10b

Internal reliefs can be used in systems in which the pump works on request.
For steering systems in which the flow goes over relief 50% of the time,
internal reliefs are not recommended. They heat up the oil and the pump
and can cause leaks through pump inlet seals. When a system have an
internal relief valve, it is important to keep the fluid temperature in its
operating range. Overheating of the fluid can affect the relief valves
Pump delivery (flow rate in litters per minute)

QP =




Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

dP [cm3/rev] is the pump displacement. The displacement is a
measure of the pump size and is given by the manufacturer;
n [rev/min] is the shaft input rotational speed
V is pump volumetric efficiency.
In the BG units, flow rate is given in gallons per minute (gpm):

QP =

V [gpm]

in 3



is the pump displacement (in cubic inches) per

Gear pump flow rate can be given at 1000 rpm by the manufacturer. In
fixed-displacement pumps, the flow rate can be changed only by changing
the drive shaft rotational speed. These pumps are used in open type
systems in which the flow after each work cycle is returned to the reservoir.
Variable displacement pumps are mainly used in closed systems (systems
where the pump continues to operate at a stand-by in a neutral position)
Torque on the pump shaft


m [ Nm]

P is the hydraulic power in Watts (Nm/s)
m is pump mechanical efficiency
w is the shaft angular velocity in (rad/s)
In mechanical formulas, the shaft speed is expressed in radians per second
w (rad/s)
The angular velocity w (rad/s) can be converted to rotational speed, n
w = 2n

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks




pd n
m = P m

T =

pd P
m ( Nm)



Slip is a leakage of fluid from the pressure outlet back to the inlet. Slip
increases with increasing pressure and wear. Increasing slip is referred to
as a loss of efficiency. Slip can be reduced by constructing the pump for
pressure and wear compensation.
Pump Efficiency
Overall efficiency is:

O =

Output _ Power
= V M
Input _ Power


It is determined as the ratio between the hydraulic power at the pump outlet
and mechanical power at the driving shaft at nominal pressure, rotational
speed, and fluid viscosity (rated power). The overall efficiency has two
components: volumetric and mechanical.

V =

Actual _ Flowrate
Rated _ Flowrate

is the volumetric efficiency.

The actual flow rate is the flow at the pump output when the pump is
working under load. It will vary at different pressures. Rated flow rate is the
theoretical flow at the pump outlet without volumetric losses. Volumetric
efficiency range is: v = 0.90 - 0.97. If volumetric efficiency is not known, for
initial calculations we can take the average values for gear pumps: v =
0.90 (low speeds 1000 rev/min) and v = 0.97 (high speeds 3000


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

M =

Drive _ Saft _ Power

is the mechanical efficiency.
Input _ Shaft _ Power

It is a result of lost power due to friction in the bearings and between the
meshing gears.

M = 0.90 0.93

The gear pumps overall efficiency is in the range of 82% to 88% depending
on the pressure and rotational speed. An example of pump overall
efficiency at different pressures is shown in Fig 3.11.

Overall Efficiency [%]








Pressure [bar]

Fig. 3.11
A disadvantage of gear pumps is that they create pressure and flow ripples
(pulses) in the discharge port. Pumps are one of the biggest sources of
noise and vibrations in the hydraulic system. Every time the fluid between
two teeth is pushed out of the pump, a peak in the pressure appears. A
typical pressure distribution at a discharge port is shown in Fig. 3.12.
Pulsations () can be expressed as the ratio of pulsations amplitude (p) to
an average value (p):

P =



100 [%] ,
p is peak-to-peak amplitude.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


p [MPa]


t [s]
Fig. 3.12

P1 is maximum continuous pressure

P2 is maximum intermittent pressure
P3 is maximum peak pressure

Pump pressure pulsations travel along the hydraulic lines at the speed of
sound (about 1400 m/s in hydraulic fluid) until it is affected by a change in
diameter or direction. Therefore, pulsation amplitude depends on the
hydraulic lines (length and diameter) and fittings (type and size) in the
system. Although the direction valve, after the pump, smoothes the flow
and the pressure peaks, pulsations created by the gear pumps travel
through the system to the hydraulic actuators.
Internal gear pumps have smaller pressure pulses than external pumps
because the spur and ring gear set have more teeth meshing than two
external spur gears. Gear pumps are mainly used in systems with normalhigh pressures (from 15 to 25 MPa). For higher efficiency, they should be
driven at speed close to their rated maximum because internal leakage is
smaller at higher speeds. At low speeds, gear pumps have reduced
lubrication between side plates and gears. Pump manufacturers always
specify the minimum rotating speed.
Intermittent pressure is used for selecting lift pumps that work intermittently.
Continuous pressure is used for selecting steering pumps that have to run


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Vane Pumps
There are two types vane pumps: balanced and unbalanced. In the
balanced design the rotor and the sliding ring surface are coaxial. In the
unbalanced design they are not.
Similar to the gear pumps, a driving shaft coming from primary power
source drives the vane pump. Inside the pump, the driving shaft is
connected to a slotted rotor that is placed eccentrically from the center of
the circular opening of a casting housing. Vanes placed in the rotor slots
slide in and out. Centrifugal force causes them to slide out and the contour
of the cavity pushes them back in. Tips of the vanes slide on the inside
pump surface and seal the passage between the suction and the pressure
ports. The vanes push fluid from the inlet to the outlet through the gap
between the housing and the rotor. Vane pumps have higher efficiency than
gear pumps because of less fluid leakage from the pressure outlet back to
the inlet. They have less slip (smaller volumetric losses). Also, the
efficiency remains constant over time. As the vane tips wear the slip
remains the same because the centrifugal force always keeps the vanes in
contact with the housing surface. Pump housing is made from the same
materials as gear pumps. Mechanical efficiency is a result of the friction in
the bearings and the friction between the cam contour and vane tips.

Fig. 3.13 Unbalanced vane pump

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Disadvantages of vane pumps compared to gear pumps are:

1) A high efficiency into a narrow pressure range and 2) pumps are more
susceptive to fluid contamination. When the contamination increases, their
volumetric efficiency decreases.

Rotary Piston Pumps

Rotary piston pumps have a rotational driving shaft. These pumps have
some advantages over gear and vane pumps. They are used in systems
with higher flow and pressure demands.

High power-to-size ratio. We can get more hydraulic power out of a

piston pump than we can from the same size gear pump.
High pressures: some pumps can maintain pressure up to 70 MPa.
Low power consumption at stand-by.
High overall efficiency: for most pumps it is about 96%.

There are two main types of rotary piston pumps: radial and axial.
In the radial type, pistons are placed in a cylinder block. Pistons move
radially in and out. The cylinder block (rotor) is located inside a fixed
housing (stator) and is rotated by a drive shaft. The rotor centerline is offset
from the stator centerline. The amount of offset determines piston stroke
and pump displacement.
In axial pumps (fig. 3.14), pistons move axially. They are placed into a
cylinder block which is rotated by the drive shaft. The piston ends are
depressed against a tilted disk (swash plate). The angle of the disk causes
cylinders to move axially. If the disk is perpendicular to the axis of rotation
(zero angle), pistons will not be compressed and there will be no flow
through the pump. The disk can have different angles. When the disc is
tilted to one side of the neutral, flow goes in one direction. When it is tilted
to the other side, flow direction is reversed. When the disc angle is fixed
the pump has fixed displacement. In pumps with variable displacement, the
disk angle is controlled by a yoke. The yoke can have mechanical, electric
or hydraulic control. At the released position of the yoke, the disk is


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

returned to neutral (zero) position and the pump stops delivering flow.
When the yoke is hydraulically controlled, a pressure compensator
maintains constant output pressure at different flow rates. Such pump is
called: pressure compensated pump.

Fig. 3.14 Axial rotary piston pump

Pressure compensated pumps are used mainly on internal combustion (IC)
engine trucks because the engines speed is controlled by the trucks speed
requirements and not hydraulic system requirements.
Piston pumps can have an integrated digital electronic control for pressure
limiting, load sensing and anti-stall speed sensing. They can be constructed
in a way to be able to operate either as a pump or as a motor.
Design considerations when selecting a pump

If a pump works at speeds outside the manufacturer specification, it

has reduced lubrication and reduced life;
When pump speed is higher than specified maximum, the inlet
pressure is reduced (increased vacuum) which can cause cavitation.
In this case, a floated pump design is recommended;
The risk of cavitation in the pump inlet increases when: suction line
is too long, pump is placed too high above reservoir or suction filter
is undersized;
Pressure above rated increases the torques on the pump drive shaft
When a higher flow rate is required, it is recommended to use a
larger pump instead of increasing the driveshaft rotational speed;
At speeds higher than rated pumps have reduced pressure rating.
Alignment tolerances of the pump and the motor shafts should be
within limits specified by pump manufacturer

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks



Hydraulic Motors


Hydraulic motor, constant displacement

Similar to the PD pumps, there are three types of PD hydraulic motors:

gear, vane and piston. They are powered by pressurized hydraulic fluid.
Hydraulic motors main function is to convert hydraulic energy to
mechanical energy and to transfer rotational kinetic energy to mechanical
devices. There are two types of motors:

Fix displacement- constant flow at constant rotational speed

Variable displacement- variable flow

Motors have the same pressure rating as pumps. Some of them are
available with optional built-on holding (multi-disk) brake, dynamic (drum)
brakes, flushing valves or speed sensors.
Motor selection is based on two characteristics: motor shaft speed and
shaft torque. The shaft torque is a product of motor volumetric displacement
and pressure drop in the motor. Required shaft speed is determined by the
flow rate and the motor displacement. Shaft rotational speed usually is
determined by the performance of the other components in the truck and is
given when calculating the hydraulic system. Motor displacement (dM)
versus required output shaft torque (TM) is published by the manufacturer in
charts or tables.
For a required shaft torque, the motor displacement (dM) can be calculated
with the formula:


( p ) M

cm 3




is motor shaft torque (Nm)

is pressure drop across motor ports (bar)

M = 0.90 0.95

is motor mechanical efficiency


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

The flow rate, QM, is calculated from the formula:

QM =

d M nM




is motor displacement (cm3/rev)


is motor shaft speed (rev/min)

V = 0.90 0.97 is motor volumetric efficiency

Motor efficiency is identical to the pump efficiency.


Hydraulic Cylinders

Cylinders convert fluid energy into mechanical energy in the form of linear
motion and force.
Single-acting cylinders
In elevating systems, either single-acting telescopic or single-acting ram
type cylinders are used. Single-acting cylinders accept pressure fluid only
on one side of the piston. Volume on the other side can either be vented to
the atmosphere or connected to the tank. The return line to the tank is for
collecting eventual leaks through the seal. These types of cylinders are
called single-acting because the work done by the fluid is acting only in one
direction- for lifting. Weight of the load and the mast does the work in the
opposite direction. Ram type and telescopic type cylinders, shown in Fig.
3.15, are designed for applications where long strokes are required.
Telescopic cylinders (fig. 3.15b) have two or more stages. The outside body
is called: main cylinder and the smallest stage is called: plunger. When fully
extended, their stroke exceeds the length of the cylinder at fully retracted
condition. Collapsed length of a typical telescopic cylinder is about 20% to
40% of its extended length. Telescopic cylinders usually extend from the
largest to the smallest stage. This means that the largest stage inside the
main cylinder will start to extend first. There are telescopic cylinders that
are designed to have all stages extend at the same time. This construction

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


provides constant speed and constant push force throughout the extracting
and retracting.


Fig. 3.15 a) Ram type, single acting


b) Telescopic, single acting

Hydraulic cylinders have four main components: cylinder, piston, piston rod
and seals. Cylinders are made from steel or ductile iron tube. Pistons are
made from: alloy steel or high-tensile strength ductile iron. Piston rod is
usually made from chrome plated and polished steel alloy. Inside surfaces
of cylinders are coated and polished. Coating can be electrodeposited
chrome or nitriding.
Electro-deposition is the process of producing coating by putting a
negative charge on the part and dipping it into a chemical solution that
contains the coating metal. The thickness of the electrodeposited layer is
determined by the duration of the process.
Nitriding is a surface hardening process that introduces nitrogen into the
surface. There are three nitriting technologies: ion, gas and salt.
At the end of the telescopic cylinders there are at least one seal and a
wiper. The seal is usually a U-cup lip seal. This seal relies on hydraulic
pressure to press the seal lips against the rod and seal groove. It is better
to use a seal with a pre-energized lip (by spring or O ring) in order to avoid
leaks when the cylinder is unloaded and pressure is absent. The wiper
prevents external contaminants entering the cylinder.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

The linear force generated by a hydraulic cylinder is a product of input

pressure and effective area.




p = p1 p2

is the pressure (p2 = 0 for vented



is the input pressure

A [m 2 ]

is the piston area

CYL = 0.95 0.98 is

the mechanical efficiency of the lift

When the cylinder diameter is increased, the natural frequency (the
stiffness) of the system increases allowing the motion controller (the
direction valve) to manage faster acceleration and deceleration, which in
turn yields higher system performance. Roughly, the actuator (cylinder)
natural frequency should be 3 - 4 times higher than the frequency of the
motion controller.

Double-acting, single rod cylinder




Fig. 3.16
Double-acting cylinders can have single piston rod (Fig. 3.16) or double
piston rod. They are used for auxiliary operations such as tilting, side shift
and reach/retract operations. These cylinders accept pressurized fluid on
both sides of the piston. When the cylinder has a single-piston rod,

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


extension force is greater than retraction force (if equal pressures are used)
because the area of the piston side (A1) is greater than the area of the face
of the rod end side (A2).
The force equation acting on the piston rod (shown in Fig. 3.16) is:

F = ( p1 A1 p2 A2 ) CYL [ N ]



A1 =
A2 =

D 2

[m ]

(D 2 d 2 )

is the larger area

[m ]

is the smaller area

At the same flow rate, the cylinder retracts faster than it extends. Faster
retraction is a result of the smaller volume at the rod end side.

E =

Q m
A1 s

Extension speed

R =



Retraction speed

is the flow rate

The relationships between the piston diameter (D) and the piston rod
diameter (d) of double-acting cylinders are standardized and are given in
table 3.1, where: = A1/ A2


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

D (mm)

d (mm)
= 1.25

= 1.6



Table 3.1

10. Pressure Sensors

There are two main types of sensors: 1) pressure switch and 2) electronic
pressure sensor (pressure transducer).
Pressure switch is an ON-OFF type switch which is controlled by pressure.
Usually, it has a single-pole double-throw actuator. As the pressure
increases, it pushes a piston against a retainer which compresses a spring
and closes/opens the switch contact tips. The force on the piston

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


F = pA m

counteracts the spring force FS = kx . Preloading of the

spring is adjustable which allows the switch to be adjusted for different
pressures. The manufacturer always specifies maximum recommended
system pressure and the type of fluid with which the switch can work.
Electronic pressure sensors provide output signal proportional to the
pressure input. The output is an analog signal which can be voltage (0 to 10
V range) or current (4 to 20 mA range). Analog signal is a continuous
electrical signal which varies analogously to a non-electric input signal
(pressure variations).

Pressure sensor with voltage output signal

Pressure sensor with current output signal

The accuracy of the electronic pressure sensors is about +/- 1% of the
rated pressure and their life is about 10 million load cycles.
Pressure spikes that exceed the nominal system pressure can cause failure
of pressure sensors. Snubbers are installed before the sensors to protect
them. Some sensors have built-in snubbers. A typical snubber consists of
an orifice which suppresses and absorbs pressure spikes. Orifice diameter
determines the level of dampening. The diameter selection is based on:

System pressure: higher pressure requires smaller diameter (greater

Fluid viscosity: higher viscosity requires smaller diameter
Amplitude of pressure ripples: higher amplitude requires greater
dampening. The amplitude of the spikes depends on the sensor
location in the system.

Recommendations for pressure sensors selection:

Select transducer with pressure range at least 20% above maximum

working system pressure
Avoid installing sensors after fast closing valves
Install proper size snubber before transducer inlet


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

11. Hydraulic Accumulators

Hydraulic accumulators are used as a source of power at the systems
request. They store non-compressible fluids under pressure. The pressure
is created by an external force.
There are three types of accumulators with regard to the external force:

Weight loaded
Spring loaded
Gas loaded

Mobile equipment hydraulic systems usually use gas loaded accumulators.

This type of accumulator uses the compressibility property of gases to store
potential energy. When the fluid pressure in the system is higher than the
gas pressure in the accumulator, fluid enters the accumulator compressing
the gas. When the hydraulic pressure in the system drops, the gas trying to
equalize the pressure expands and forces the fluid out of the accumulator.
The most common type of accumulator employed in modern hydraulic
systems is the nitrogen gas loaded type. An important characteristic of the
nitrogen gas is that when the gas is compressed the its pressure increases
exponentially. This results in storing more energy as the fluid pressure
increases. Also, the nitrogen gas is safe for the user because it is nonflammable.
Accumulators have several functions in hydraulic systems:

Storage and source of energy

Pressure shock damper- at this application, the accumulator has to
be installed as close as possible to the source of pulsation.
Holding device
Leakage compensator (used in full-power brake systems)
Thermal expansion compensator
Power source

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Sizing Accumulators
The following case is when the accumulator is used as a power source.
The equation describing the gas in three different positions is (fig. 3.12):

p1V1 = p 2V2 = p3V3



p1 = gas pressure in the pre-charged accumulator (initial)

V1 = gas volume in the pre-charged accumulator (initial)
p 2 = gas pressure in the charged accumulator (at maximum system
V2 = gas volume in the charged accumulator
p3 = gas pressure in the discharged accumulator (final) at minimum
system pressure
V3 = gas volume in the discharged accumulator (final)
When charging and discharging take place slowly, there is enough time for
the heat to dissipate. Then, we have an ISOTHERMAL process. In this
case n=1.
When charging and discharging occurs quickly without heat transfer we
have an ADIABATIC process. Then n is equal to the ratio between the
specific heat of the gas at a constant volume and its specific heat at a
constant pressure. For nitrogen gas this ratio is equal to 1.4 (n=1.4). In
bladder-type accumulators which are used in industrial truck hydraulic
systems, we have adiabatic conditions.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Fig. 3.17
Determining the size of the accumulator
Size is determined by the relationship between the initial gas volume, V1,
and the needed fluid volume, VX:
Equation 3.12 can be written as:

V1 ( p1 )1 / n = V2 ( p 2 )1 / n = V3 ( p3 )1 / n
If we take the second two members we can express V2:

V2 ( p 2 )1 / n = V3 ( p3 )1 / n

V3 = V2 + V


V2 ( p2 )1/ n = (V2 + V X )( p3 )1/ n = V2 ( p3 )1/ n + V ( p3 )1/ n


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


V2 ( p2 )1/ n V2 ( p3 )1 / n = V ( p3 )1 / n
V2 = V

( p 3 )1 / n
( p 2 )1 / n ( p3 )1 / n

From equation 3.13 we express the relationship between V1 and V2:

V1 ( p1 )1 / n = V2 ( p 2 )1 / n

( p 2 )1 / n
V1 = V2
( p1 )1 / n
Replace V2:

( p 3 )1 / n
( p 2 )1 / n
V1 = V

( p2 )1 / n ( p3 )1 / n ( p1 )1 / n
Divide both sides by ( p 2 )1 / n to determine the size of the accumulator.

V1 = V



1/ n

1 3

1/ n

[m 3 ]


Pre-set accumulator pressure in the bladder is about 90% of the line

pressure p3

p1 0.9 p3
It is recommended that the discharge pressure in the accumulator is:
P2 < 3 P3


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

12. Hydraulic filters


a) filter (one direction flow)

b) filter for reverse flow

The devices for cleaning fluid can be classified as: filters, strainers and
Filters are devices whose primary function is the retention of insoluble
contaminants from the fluid.
Strainers are course filters. Their filtration ranges from 50 to 300 microns
(most strainers are 125 microns).
Magnets function is to attract and remove iron from the fluid. They must be
placed where they will attract most particles- between the return and the
suction lines. Magnets can be installed inside the reservoir plug (magnetic
Hydraulic filters are classified by pressure rating as:

Low-pressure filters
High-pressure filters
Medium-pressure filters

There are five types of filters classified on the basis of their location and
function in the system.
Suction filters
These are low pressure filters located in the suction line before the pump.
They are usually placed inside the reservoir. Suction or return filters can be
combined with a breather when they are installed at the inlet or outlet of the
reservoir. In order to determine what type of filter to use, we have to
consider the requirements of each component and the hydraulic system as
a system.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Pressure filter
These types of filters that are placed in the pressure line either immediately
after the pump or before a component with high fluid clearness
requirements. They are either high or medium pressure.
Return filters
Return filters are installed in the return line. They can be placed outside or
inside the reservoir. It is recommended return filters have a bypass valve
which protects the filter element during cold start and pressure spikes.
Return filter which do not have a bypass valve mast be rated for pressures
higher that the system pressure. They can be subject to high pressure
when they are clogged.
Reverse flow filters
Reverse flow filters are used when the flow direction is reversed in the
lines. This filter has to retain contaminants in one direction and prevent
returning the contaminants into the system when the flow is reversed. This
is achieved by having two parallel lines and check valves in each line. In lift
truck applications, reverse flow filters are used in hydrostatic transmissions
and energy recovery systems with reversible pump/motor.
Air filters
Air filters are placed on the reservoir and they are usually combined with a
breather cap or a dip stick for fluid level indication. Breather cap air filters
range from 2 to 40 microns filtration.
Suction or return filters can be combined with a breather when they are
installed at the inlet or outlet of the reservoir. In order to determine what
type of filter to use, we have to consider the requirements of each
component and the hydraulic system as a system.
The most debated design to consider is the use of suction low-pressure
filters. In general, they are recommended for systems working in areas with
high air contamination. Suction filters main advantages and disadvantages
are as follows.

Dissipate any degree of turbulence left over from the returned oil.
Protect the whole system at the front and catch all contaminants
entering the oil through the air breather.
In order to minimize the pressure losses in the suction line, the
suction filter must have a bigger filtering area which increases the


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

cost of the filter. Schematically it can be presented as a couple of

filters working in parallel.

Increase the resistance in the suction line, which may cause

inefficient suction by the pump. For this reason they are mainly used
in floated pump designs (the pump is located below fluid level of the
When the filter gets plugged, the flow bypasses the filter through the
check valve and all benefits of the filtration are lost. It is
recommended to change the filter during preventive maintenance
after a number of hours and every time repair work is done on the
system. To reduce change time, the filter should be located at easy
to access location.
Take extra space in the reservoir when the filter is places inside.

Filters can also be classified as: replaceable and permanent. Foreign

particles collected in the permanent filter can be washed away and the filter
can be reused.
Filter efficiency
Filter efficiency is based on three parameters:
Beta Rating
Dirt holding capacity
Pressure drop across the filter element
In the past, there were two efficiency ratings: nominal and absolute.
Currently there is no world standard describing nominal and absolute. If we
know only the nominal or absolute rating of a filter in microns, this really
does not quantify its retention efficiency at that size. If a filter is nominally
rated, 6-micron, it does not describe how many particles, 6-micron and
larger, are being retained by the filter. Also, there is a difference between
absolute and nominal rating. Absolute rating has 98.7% to 99.5% retention
efficiency, while nominal rating has a 50% to 98% efficiency. Most filter
manufacturers specify absolute rating at a 99.5% efficiency.
A better approach is to express the performance of filters with a Beta
Rating Number (ISO 16889). A Beta rating (6 microns for example) is a
measure of the number of particles greater than 6 microns upstream
(before the filter) divided by the number of particles greater than 6 microns
downstream (after the filter). Beta rating of 100 means that for every 100

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


particles larger than six microns entering the filter, one passes through. The
data given in the ISO standard or by the manufacturers are based only on
specific test conditions prescribed by the standard. Actual field conditions
may vary considerably.
Another measure is filter retention efficiency (R). It can be calculated as:
R = (1-1/BETA) x 100 [%]
The relations between Beta and R can be given in table 3.2.
Beta Number

Retention Efficiency

R [%]








Table 3.2
Fine media filters can remove some additives from the fluid. Many types of
lubricants have de-foaming additives. These are suspended semisolid
particles in the 5-10 micron range and are filterable. Efficient 1-micron filters
can potentially remove sulphur and phosphorus additives that are not
dissolved as well as suspended solid anti-scuff additives.
The best way to determine if the filter works properly is to do an upstream
and downstream particle count. It is a good practice to combine the filter
with a differential pressure switch. The switch signals the need for a filter
change before the filter is fully clogged and the contamination passes
through the check valve. Changing it on time prevents system component
damage and premature replacement of partially used filter elements. Most
filter manufacturers can determine how changes in the fluid viscosity at
operating temperatures affect the flow rate


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Dirt holding capacity

Dirt holding is a characteristic showing the retention capacity of the filter
element until it is clogged. It is the weight (in grams) of the retained
contamination at determined pressure drops across the filter.
Pressure losses in the filter
There is always a pressure drop across the filter. For this reason, in most
lift truck hydraulic systems, filters are located in the return line. The
pressure drop in the return line is desirable because it creates
backpressure, which is necessary when lowering the load. Also, this
location permits the use of low-pressure filters.
Pressure drop depends on filter characteristics (area, particle block size)
and system characteristics (fluid viscosity and flow rate). High pressure
drop filters are not suitable for high viscosity oils. Filter manufacturers'
publish PQ curves of their products to show the relationship between flow
vs. pressure drop and viscosity vs. pressure drop.
In some applications the cylinder return stroke is faster than the power
stroke (lowering speed is faster than lifting speed). Therefore, the return
flow rate is greater than the pump flow rate. If we have a filter in the return
line, it has to be sized for the greater flow rate. If the return filter is sized for
the pump flow, then the filter is undersized. Undersized filters will fail to
properly clean the fluid and the system will build up heat.
Filter Bypass Valves at Low Temps
We want 100 percent flow to pass through the filter at all times. When the
fluid temperature is low, its viscosity increases making it more difficult to
pass through the filter element. The fluid takes the path of least resistance
and goes through the bypass check valve or through ruptured sections in
the element. The filter bypass condition happens usually for the first few
minutes after a cold start till the fluid warms up.
Loop filtration
Off-line loop filtration is the most cost-effective method for cleaning the
fluid. Filter efficiency and dirt-holding capacity are at a maximum because
the fluid flow is steady. Off-line filtration can be installed permanently or it
can be a portable unit. The main benefit is that loop filters have a lower cost
per weight of captured dirt than in-line filters. Despite the benefits, loop

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


filtration is not used in the forklift truck hydraulic systems because it

requires extra space and adds cost to the system.
Start-up filtration
Although the hydraulic fluid and components are cleaned to the
recommended ISO levels, there is always contamination introduced during
handling and assembly. For this reason, systems with high cleanliness
requirements must be flushed after assembly and before start-up. During
flushing, the fluid circulates through an outside filter (usually remote filter
carts). The remote filter must have higher retention efficiency than the
system filters. Also, the system has to be flushed with a flow rate higher
than the maximum for the system. It is not recommended to flush the
system with compressed air from common factory lines. Air will blow away
bigger particles but it can bring in moisture and smaller contaminants. Air
flushing can be used before fluid flushing.
The flow
Designers must always consider all system parameters when selecting the
filter. When the fluid has cyclic behavior, the increase in flow can
dramatically alter the efficiency of the element during the flow pitch. If a
cylinder cycles at a fast rate, the filter is subjected to high flow and pressure
fluctuations. This can cause leakage over the bypass check valve.
The water
Water absorption filters usually have an element that combines a particle
removal media with water absorption material. Most water absorption media
are sensitive to flow rate. Their efficiency is higher when flow velocity is low.
It is common for these filters to be used on off-line circuits where the flow
rate can be controlled.
Filter media
The most commonly used materials for filter media are: wire mesh,
cellulose (wood pulp) and glass fiber. Wire mesh and cellulose are mainly
used for filters with lower retaining efficiency. Most high efficient filters have
high efficient glass fiber media.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Filter electrostatic charging

The friction between the flow and the filter element creates electrostatic
charge. The charge generation depends on the type of fluid and filter media
material. The generation increases at higher flow rate and fluid viscosity.
This static electricity is collected in the filter housing and discharged to the
truck frame. The electrostatic discharge has to be controlled because it
increases the fluid thermal degradation and varnishing and it has negative
effect on the performance of the electronic components.
Filter failure monitoring
There are two main of failure states: clogged and torn filter media.
Filter condition is observed by measuring the pressure difference before
and after the filter. Differential pressure switch, shown in Fig. 3.18, can be
used to measure the pressure at both ends of the filter. The pressure drop
across the filter should be within a certain limit. Pressure drop above the
upper limit means that the filter is clogged. Pressure drop below the lower
limit means that the filtering media is torn. When the pressure drop across
the filter exceeds the spring force, the switch is turned on and it gives a
reminding signal for filter change.

Fig. 3.18 (Filter with differential pressure switch)

For suction and return filters, a pressure switch which is connected only to
one point can also be used. The pressure drop in the filter can be obtained
from sensing one side because pressure at the other side is approximately
zero. When the filter has a bypass check valve, the pressure switch setting
has to be below the setting of the bypass valve. Disadvantage of using a
switch sensing only one side is that it works in narrow fluid viscosity range.
If the fluid viscosity goes outside of this range the switch will give a false
Mechanical clogged filter indicators are also used. They are constructed as
pop-up switches.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Latest filter technologies have made possible filters with filtration as low as
one micron with minimum pressure loss across the filter. In this design, the
fluid is cleaned of ferrous particles by a magnet. This filter does not have a
filtration barrier and it has a smaller pressure drop. In hydraulic systems for
outdoor mobile equipment this filter is not used because most of the
contamination comes from the environment where the contaminants are
non-ferrous particles.

13. Hydraulic Reservoirs


a) Open

b) Pressurized

The reservoir has two main functions: to store the hydraulic fluid and to
keep the fluid within defined working temperature limits. There are two
types of reservoirs: open (vented) and pressurized (non-vented). In this
section, we are going to discuss only the vented type since it is primary
used in the mobile industrial equipment.
A reservoir must be designed to meet the system requirements. These
requirements are:
Proper size
The reservoir has to have the smallest volume that holds the necessary
fluid for the system. The most economical size has to be calculated based
on the systems requirements. The formulas used for determining the
reservoir volume are based on calculation of the cooling surface and are
given further in this section.
Good sealing and filtration against contamination of the fluid
Air has to enter and exit the cylinder through a breather containing air filter.
The capture efficiency of the air filter has to be the same as or higher than
the capture efficiency of the main oil filter. Breathers without filters do not
prevent contamination from the air. In dusty environments, the air entering


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

the reservoir should be filtered. In moist environments, desiccant breathers

are used to prevent the ingression of moisture.

High degree of heat exchange between the fluid and surrounding air
through the reservoir walls
Reservoir walls have to ensure good heat exchange between the fluid
inside and the surrounding air. Free air circulation around the reservoir
must be guaranteed. Reservoirs without enough surface area to dissipate
heat from natural circulation and reservoirs of systems with short work
cycles should have a partition (baffle) which separates the reservoir into
two parts. A baffle is a separation plate dividing the reservoir into two
sections: return and suction. Baffles cause returned flow to circulate around
the outer wall before it can get to the suction line. The benefit of this
circulation is better heat exchange and turbulence dissipation of the return
flow. Usually the lower corners of the baffle are cut off. The area of the cut
offs must be larger than the cross-section area of the inlet line.

Dissipation of air bubbles in the fluid along the path from the return
to the suction pipe.
Turbulent flow induces air bubbles in the fluid. These bubbles can enter the
suction pipe and cause cavitation damage in the system. To minimize this
risk, suction and return lines should be as far apart from each other as
possible. If there is a baffle in the reservoir, the suction and return ports
should be on opposite sides of the baffle. The suction line (or suction filter)
has to be a minimum of 20 mm above the bottom of the reservoir in order to
avoid taking contaminants along with the fluid. Also, return and suction lines
have to be submerged a minimum of 30 mm below the lowest fluid level.
Another way to dissipate the turbulence from the return line is to use a
diffuser (spreader) at the return line so that the return flow passes through a
spreader. Instead of diffuser, we can use two return filters connected in
parallel or a strainer. The strainer will cause backpressure, which is
desirable for some functions of the lift truck hydraulic systems. It is
recommended to make reservoirs deep and narrow instead of shallow and
wide in order to minimize the vortex effects in them.
Ability for fluid level observation.
Maximum and minimum levels have to be shown on the fluid level indicator
or marked on a deep stick.
Guaranteed atmospheric pressure.
The maximum fluid volume has to be approximately 10% smaller than the
reservoir volume. This will ensure a constant atmospheric pressure in the
reservoir during level changes.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Easy serviceability.
Main requirements include: accessible location of the hoses connected to
the reservoir, ability for quick discharge and refill and easy fluid level check.
Flushing connection ports.
Flushing is a procedure for cleaning the reservoir from contamination using
turbulent flow. Flushing fluid must be compatible with the fluid used in the
hydraulic system. The reservoir can be equipped with special flushing ports.
There are three cases when having flushing ports is recommended:
1) The reservoir has to be flushed regularly.
2) Fluid oxidizes rapidly as a result of overheating.
3) There is a quick fluid contamination from outside.

Calculating the size of the reservoir

Conventional and quick consideration for reservoir sizing is generally
accepted as being three times the minute flow (l/min) of the pump.
Reservoir volume (in litters) = 3 x Pump flow [litters per minute]
However, using this criterion often results in selecting a reservoir that is
oversized and larger than the available space.
For high lift fork trucks, it is also necessary to consider the maximum fluid
volume that the system needs. Maximum volume is the total volume of all
cylinders when they are fully extended and the volume of all connectors in
the system. The fluid volume in the reservoir is then increased to ensure
that a minimum fluid level in the reservoir is maintained.
Reservoir volume (in litters) = (1.1 to 1.5) x Maximum system volume
It is a common practice to use one hydraulic system for different height
elevating systems (masts). Every time the mast is replaced with another
one with a higher fluid volume requirement, the reservoir volume has to be
increased to meet the new requirements.
When designing a reservoir we can select different shapes, materials, wall
thickness and locations. In order to select the most economical design, we
must calculate the reservoir surface required to dissipate the heat and limit


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

the fluid temperature up to an acceptable maximum value TMAX. Maximum

temperature is a design requirement which has to be determined before
designing the reservoir.
In hydraulic systems which use air cooling for the reservoir, the cooling
surface is:


3600 PL
[m 2 ]
k (TMAX ) k (TMAX TO )



Q L = 3600PL is the amount of heat as a result of losses in the

hydraulic system for a period of 1 hour

PL =

(1 S ) is the lost power in the system
60 P

is the pump efficiency

is the system efficiency without the pump

TMAX = TMAX TO is the temperature difference between the fluid

maximum temperature and the surrounding air temperature



is a coefficient of heat transfer of the reservoir


is coefficient of heat transfer from the fluid to the walls

is coefficient of heat transfer from the walls to surrounding air

is the wall thickness

is coefficient of heat conductivity of the wall

Coefficient of heat transfer, k, can be accepted as:

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


k = 25 2 when the reservoir has poor air circulation around the
m hK

k = 45 2 when the reservoir has good air circulation around the
m hK

k = 90 2 when the reservoir walls are subject to air cooling by a
m hK
Using the described requirements and method for calculating the optimum
reservoir surface, the fluid in the reservoir can be reduced significantly by
achieving the desired temperature and turbulence dissipations.
Different materials have a different coefficient of heat transfer, k. For
example, a stainless steel reservoir has half of the heat transfer capability
of a carbon steel reservoir.
Reservoir testing
In order to guarantee that all design requirements for the reservoir are met,
it is recommended that we measure some of the main parameters of the
system. It is a good practice to build one prototype reservoir with plexiglas
windows and a temperature gauge in it. This will allow monitoring of fluid
turbulence as well as the change of temperature during the required duty
cycle of operation. Achieving acceptable maximum oil temperature is the
best measure of good reservoir design. It means that the reservoir can
properly dissipate the heat generated by the system.
Negative effect of moisture in the reservoirs
Hydraulic oil can absorb water. In general, if the reservoir is designed wellthere is no turbulence- and the flow cycle is low, the water will settle out on
the bottom. But, in lift truck applications, the hydraulic systems usually
have short fluid cycles for lifting, reaching and side shifting. Therefore, in
the reservoir design, we have to focus on the prevention of water entering
the reservoir.


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

The headspace of many tanks maintains a continuous moist fog. This can
lead to a buildup of water in the oil, especially in cold storage applications
where the truck has to go in and out of a freezer. The moisture condenses
on the reservoir ceiling and walls and then drips into the fluid. Moisture
signs can be found either by looking for oxidations (rust) on reservoir ceiling
or by touching the inside ceiling with our fingers looking for moisture or rust.

The most steel reservoirs are made from mild steel sheet metal.
Reservoirs with volume less than 100 litters are usually made from 1.5-2
mm thick sheets. Reservoirs are painted only from the outside. The
inside area above the oil can be a source of contamination. When
carbon steel reservoirs are used for fluid storage, their internal walls
must be coated against corrosion.
Aluminized steel and stainless steel reservoir are designed to eliminate
the contamination concern. Aluminized steel is mild steel coated with
aluminum-silicon alloy.
Stainless steel reservoirs are the most expensive to manufacture. For
this reason they are mainly used for storing hydraulic fluids.
Aluminum alloy reservoirs are usually die-casting.
Plastic reservoirs are usually made from polypropylene, polyethylene or
nylon. Resins used for reservoirs are usually rated for temperature
ranges from - 40 C to +120 C. Design of plastic reservoir must
consider coefficient of heat transfer (k) and the thermal deformation of
the material.
low density
high density
low density
high density


Change of

115 C (239 F)

Becomes soft and


Hydraulic fluid

170 C (338 F)

Becomes soft and


Pressurized hot

100 C (212 F)

Starts to melt

Hot water

130 C (266 F)

Starts to melt

Hydraulic fluid
and chemicals

Table 3.3 Comparison between four polyethylene resins


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The most widely used material for plastic reservoirs is polyethylene (lowdensity crosslinked or high-density linear). The name crosslinked shows
that the polyethylene structure consists of bonded and linked together
carbon chains at molecular level. Crosslinking of the molecules changes
the polymer properties from thermo-plastic to thermo-elastic. Thermoelasticity makes the material more resistant to ruptures and cracks. At
higher temperatures, thermo-elastic polyethylene will soften and become
more flexible. This softness allows impact energy to be absorbed easier by
the molecule chains. Crosslinking also improves the thermal properties of
the polymer.

14. Hydraulic Lines, Fittings and Couplings

Hydraulic lines used in pressurized hydraulic systems are: hoses, tubes
and fittings. Hoses are rated by their inside diameter (ID) while tubes are
rated by their outside diameter (OD) and wall thickness. Tube fitting sizes
are based on the tubes outside diameter and thread size. Hose fittings are
based on the hose size (hose ID) at one end and the thread size at the
In general, there are four types of tubes.
Hydraulic (fluid line) tubing is a metal tube. The most commonly used
metals for hydraulic tubing are: low-carbon steel, stainless steel, alloy steel,
copper, aluminum and copper-nickel alloy. Steel tubing is normalized to
achieve softness necessary for ease of bending and flaring. Low-carbon
steel tubing has one or more corrosion resistant coatings. Hydraulic tubing
is produced to OD and wall thickness dimensions.
Pneumatic tubing can be made from metal or non-metal materials:
copper, aluminium, nylon, polyethylene or PVC. Nylon tubing is the most
popular because of its flexibility and low cost.
Mechanical tubing is steel tubing for structural applications. It can have
round, rectangular or a square shape.
Cylinders tubing is mechanical tubing with a finished inside diameter (ID)
manufactured to be ready to use for hydraulic cylinders. The ID has tight


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

tolerances and surface finishing requirements. The cylinder tubing is

produced to OD and ID dimensions.
Mechanical and cylinder tubing will not be discussed in this book because
they are not used for connectors. When the term tubing or tube are
further used, they will refer only to hydraulic fluid line tubing.
Hydraulic line selection is an important part of the design process.
There are two important parameters- fluid velocity and maximum pressuretaken under account when selecting the size of the connectors. Few other
parameters: temperature, construction and fluid type must also be taken
into account. In addition, the effect on the system stiffness must be
considered when selecting the type of connector. Elasticity of the flexible
hoses reduces the dynamic stiffness of the system.
All hydraulic fluid lines have rated pressure. Lines (for medium, normal and
high pressure systems) are rated with a safety factor of four. That means
that their safety (burst) pressure is four times the working pressure.
Pressure rating varies in accordance with the different materials used. For
example: copper tubing rating is about 10 MPa, steel tube rating is more
than 25 MPa.
Fluid velocity
Fluid line size is selecting on the basis of fluid velocity inside the connector.
The fluid velocity affects the pressure drop and the fluid Reynolds number.
In general, pressure losses decrease when the diameter increases. In highpressure systems big diameters are not economical because of the
increased cost of the connectors, fittings and all other components. Bigger
pressure hoses are very stiff, require bigger bending radiuses and take
more space. Also, it is more difficult to deal with larger fluid volume
because it would require a larger reservoir. On the other hand, exceeding
recommended maximum velocity of the fluid may cause turbulence in the
flow. Small suction lines can increase the vacuum and create cavitation in
the pump inlet. The cavitation damages the pump surfaces and causes
noise and mechanical damages.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The optimum recommended velocities in the connectors are:

Suction line v= 0.5 to 1.5 m/s

Pressure lines
Maximum Pressure

Recommended velocity

p < 50 bar (5MPa)

v = 4 m/s

p = 50 to 100 bar

v = 4 to 5 m/s

p = 100 to 200 bar

v = 5 to 6 m/s

p > 200 bar

v = 6 to 7 m/s

Return lines v= 2 to 3 m/s

It has been estimated that 80% of hose failures are caused by external
physical damage to the hose. In order to increase durability of the hose, the
hose manufactures use special hybrid compounds for the cover material
instead of standard rubber covers. This more durable compound increases
the service life, lowers the maintenance, and eliminates the need for costly
hose protectors such as guards and sleeves. The pressure ratings for
hoses are provided by the manufacturers.
Design principles

Maximum pick pressure in the system must be below maximum

rated pressure for the hose. Hose burst pressure should not be used
for hose selection. The burst pressure is only for safety purpose.
Hoses used for the suction line must be able to withstand vacuum
and pressure;
Hose routing must ensure minimum length and number of bends,
avoid twisting and avoid external heat sources;
Hose sizes (inside diameters) are selected according to
recommended velocity;
Hoses have to be chemically compatible with the fluid in the system;
Hoses must be protected from rubbing against metal edges or hard
objects, snagging, cutting, pulling, bending and twisting;
Use proper end fitting;


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Hose cleanliness has to match the systems cleanliness level. After a

hose is cut to size and fittings are assembled, the hose assembly
should be cleaned and plugged.
It is recommended that mating connectors (tubing, end hose
connectors and the fittings) are made from the same material.

Hose ratings and constructions

Hose pressure ratings used in the industrial truck applications are:
High-pressure hose is used for pressures of 20 bar to 400 bar. These type
hose has three components: internal tube, steel mesh layers (four or six)
and cover. The tube is made from synthetic rubber. Steel mesh is made
from high-tensile still wire. The cover could be thermoplastic, synthetic
rubber or fabric mesh.
Medium-pressure hoses are used for pressures of 20 bar to 200 bar. This
type hose has the same three components. The only difference is that the
steel reinforcement consists of one layer still mesh.
Low-pressure (suction or return) hoses are used for pressures from 0.6 bar
to 20 bar. These hoses should be rigid enough to resist compression when
the absolute pressures are below 1 bar (the hoses experience vacuum).
This type has synthetic non-rigid reinforcement.
High, medium and low-pressure hoses are rated for temperature range
from -40 to 100 C.
Connector restraining
Restraining is achieved by clamping the connectors to rigid surfaces of the
machine. Proper clamping increases the life of the tube and hose
Tube clamps can have non-metal (rubber or nylon) dampeners, which
protects the tube from vibrations and mechanical shocks.
Hose clamps are usually metal. The purpose is to protect the hose from
twisting and rubbing against other surfaces or edges.
Tubes and hoses can be attached to each other by a floating clamp. This
clamp ensures that connectors are not rubbing against each other by
creating a space between them. The clamp is called floating because it is
not fastened to a rigid structure.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Fittings and Couplings

The couplings in mobile forklifts have to meet the requirements for high flow
and pressure, high and low temperatures and different fluids. Coupling
connection has to be able to handle pressure pulsations and spikes higher
than the rated pressure. These spikes appear when the work tool (the
forks) hit a hard object or cylinder piston hits the hard stop at the end of the
stroke. Tube fittings and adapters are cycle tested for endurance to 133%
of the work pressure and with minimum torque. If the fittings are over
tightened, their cycling endurance is reduced.
Most commonly used types of couplings are:
37 flare (JIC) threaded couplings is one of the most commonly used. It
has good performance and low cost. Both mating parts have coned
surfaces which fit against each other to form a seal. Because the sealing is
ensured by metal-to-metal contact, this type is torque sensitive. If they are
under-tightened, there is leak path between the sealing surfaces. Overtightening can damage the treads and also causes leaks. It is
recommended in extreme low or high temperature applications.
O-ring coupling is a very popular threaded connection. There are O-ring
face seal, O-ring ISO and O-ring SAE. The difference between ISO and
SAE are: at machined ports ends, ISO uses metric thread, tube size and
hut hex for metric wrenches while SAE has inch thread, tubes and hex. The
male component has a rubber O-ring which is compressed against the
machined seat in the female component. This rubber-to-metal seal is less
torque sensitive. It is recommended for high-vibration and high-pressure
applications. The O-ring coupling is not recommended for extreme
temperature conditions because rubber ages and deteriorates at very low
or high temperatures.
Flanged connection (four-bolt split flange type) is designed to avoid the use
of threaded connections. The fitting has two parts: a flanged head fitting
and a flange clamp (one-piece or sprit version). Flange connection has high
pressure capability because of the larger sealing surface and the lower
torque requirements. Flange heads and clamps are made of plated or
coated carbon steel. Flanged connections are designed to maximum inside
diameter of the hole. The sealing is achieved by O-ring or by seal-plate
which are compressed between the mating surfaces. This connection is


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

recommended for systems with high pressure and dynamic (pulsating)

Pipe thread couplings are sealed by metal-to-metal contact. They have
tapered male threads. The sealing is achieved by tightening both parts to
certain torque. The thread surfaces deform and flatten against each other
blocking the flow passage. For better sealing, a sealant material is added to
the mating surfaces. This connection is used for low cycle pressure and
high static (non-pulsating) pressure applications. The main limitations of it
are: 1) shaped fittings (elbows) cannot be oriented in desired positions; 2)
high risk for leaks at dynamic applications; 3) risk of thread cracking at
extreme temperatures because of material expansion or contraction.
Cutting face coupling is used for tube fittings. It has four components:
body, cutting ring, collar and a nut. The cutting ring has two cutting edges.
The ring slides on the tube. The ring geometry is design so that when the
nut is tighten, the front edge cuts into tube surface first and the second
edge follows. The collar ensures that all forces are equally distributed.
Quick acting (connect/disconnect) is threadless coupling. Both
components are pushed together by hand. A clip ring locks the male and
the female parts. These couplings are usually used to ease the operator
when additional attachments need to be attached to the truck.
Flare tube end is used in tube connectors for low and medium (up to 200
bar) pressure systems. It has a flared tube which is clamped against a
flared nose fitting. Clamping is achieved by a tube nut screwed to fitting.

15. Manifold blocks (Manifolds)

Manifold is an aluminum, cast iron (ductile iron) or steel block which has
ports for cartridge type valves and cavities providing interconnecting links
between the hydraulic components. Manifolds reduce the number of
external connections, which reduce the chances of leakage. Its design
requires many considerations including available space, pressures, flows,

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


duty cycles, valves, port types, size, locations and materials. For systems
with pressure up to 25 MPa, manifolds are made from steel or aluminium.
For pressures above 25 MPa, it is more economical to have steel
manifolds. After machining, the manifold blocks must be washed, deburred
and surface finished against oxidation. Burrs and small particles are
removed thermally. Thermal deburring is a process where the manifolds are
put in a chamber filled with gas which is ignited. The temperature goes up
to 3500 C for about 20 milliseconds.
Manifolds have machined valve cavities specified by the valve
manufacturers. Valves are screw-in cartridge type. Valves must be
tightened to torque values provided by valve manufacturers. Solenoids, of
the electrically controlled valves, must be spaced from each other so that
their electromagnetic field does not interfere. The magnetic field can affect
the performance of neighboring valves.
Fittings are tightened according the manifold block material. Recommended
torque values for fittings are given in table 3.4.

O-ring straight thread

port- ISO 6149

Maximum Torque Values (Nm)

Ductile Iron


Steel manifold

M8 x 1
M10 x 1
M12 x 1.5




M14 x 1.5
M16 x 1.5
M18 x 1.5




M20 x 1.5
M22 x 1.5
M27 x 2







M30 x 2
M33 x 2
M38 x 2
Table 3.4


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

Advantages of using manifolds are:

Design freedom in terms of placement

Reduced space requirements
Reduce the number of tubes, hoses, and fittings
Reduce the assembly time

Limitations of manifold use are:

Manifolds increase the fluid temperature more than conventional
plumbed systems because the valves are close to each other and
flow paths are short. Therefore there is less heat dissipation.
They are sensitive to large contaminant particles. If the system does
not have a suction filter, a manifold inlet filter rated at 20 to 25 m is

16. Hydraulic Fluid

Hydraulic fluid is the most important component of any hydraulic system. It
affects the entire hydraulic systems performance and the life of its
components. As we have already discussed, filters, strainers and magnetic
plugs are used to keep the fluid clean. The fluid has multiple functions in
the system- it transmits energy from the energy source to the components,
cools the system, cleans the system, lubricates components, reduces
friction to minimize wear and absorbs pressure ripples.
Fluids most important characteristics are: viscosity, seal compatibility,
protection against component wear, deposit control, oxidative stability and
water separability.
Viscosity and effects of viscosity
Viscosity is the single most important fluid property. It is the first thing to
consider when selecting a hydraulic fluid. Before making a selection we
have to determine the start-up viscosity and viscosity at its operating
Another key characteristic in the selection process is the viscosity change
relative to the temperature change. If the hydraulic reservoir is undersized,
it can not dissipate all built-up heat and makes the fluid work at a higher

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


temperature. This fact adds performance requirements to the fluid to

maintain small viscosity changes in wider temperature ranges.
When the fluid oxidizes, its viscosity increases. This has to be monitored
because when the system works in a cold condition the higher viscosity can
cause cavitation in the pump during a start.
As we already defined viscosity as oils most important property, it makes
sense to measure viscosity frequently, using on-site test equipment. There
are two determinable parameters, absolute and kinematic viscosity.
Kinematic viscosity measures the resistance of the fluid to flow and shear
under gravity, such as oil flowing through a funnel. Absolute viscosity, on
the other hand, determines oil's internal resistance to flow and shear. To
visualize absolute viscosity, imagine the force needed to stir oil with a stick.
Advantages of higher fluid viscosity are: reduces wear and leakage.
Disadvantages of higher fluid viscosity are: increases filter pressure drops
and possible filter bypass, reduced response to inputs and cold start
sluggishness of the hydraulic system.
Lift truck manufacturers should provide recommendations about the
appropriate viscosity grade of the fluid for hydraulic systems for their
equipment. It is especially important to provide recommendations if the
system is subjected to extreme working conditions (advice from the fluid
supplier can also be valuable). Viscosity grade classifications are given in
Appendix C. Hydraulic systems for mobile forklift equipment use fluids with
viscosity = (15 to 46) x 10-6 m2/s (viscosity grades 15, 22, 32 and 46).
Seal compatibility
Incompatibility between seals and fluid can cause seal failure and oil leaks.
Seal manufacturers have done a lot of research because they serve a wide
range of industries with a broad number of applications. Seal manufacturers
can generally predict the chemical compatibility of a fluid and recommend a
suitable seal material. Although following their recommendations is a good
practice, the best verification is the system test at working conditions.

Component wear protection

To achieve high efficiency and long system life, it is important not only to
select fluid viscosity but also to select a fluid with anti-wear property. Antiwear property reduces friction between the metal surfaces in the hydraulic


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

components. It depends on the fluid base and additives. Before the

hydraulic fluids are approved by the equipment manufacturer, they are
evaluated based on the system performance.
Water in oil-based fluids leads to system damage and failure. The worst
threat of water contamination is its reaction with additives and the
damaging bi-products. Some anti-wear additives in presence of moisture
can decompose and transform into a highly corrosive acid (sulfuric acid).
When water is absorbed by hydraulic fluid, the fluid puffs up and creates
white slime. This slime causes clogging in the filter.
Water contamination is described in greater detail in Chapter 8-III (Common
Specific gravity
When users want to replace conventional hydraulic oil with another fluid,
they have to take into account the specific gravity of the new fluid. If the
specific gravity is more, hydraulic pumps cannot the new fluid as easily as
the lighter one. For example: Conventional hydraulic oil has a specific
gravity of about 0.85, while water glycol is around 1.0 and phosphate ester
is 1.1. If a heavier fluid is put in the system and the design engineers don't
make special accommodations for heavier fluids, cavitation in the pump will
occur which will lead to excessive noise and failure of the pump. One way
to solve the problems associated with using a heavier fluid is to put the
reservoir higher than the pump. This arrangement is also called "flooded
suction". The pump does not need to work as hard to move the heavier
Determine the optimal fluid change period
Designers should recommend a fluid change period. The best practice to
determine the change period is to make a decision based on the statistical
data of the contamination of the system. This data is collected through oil
analyses, which include: measurement of the fluid viscosity, contamination
particle count, water content and dissolved metal to determine how well the
system is operating. We need to collect the data from the period of the
system failure. Next, we can make the probability density distribution and
determine L10 time for the system.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Particle count
The particle count is a catch-all type test. Almost anything that goes
wrong in the machine will result, sooner or later, in an increased number of
particles. If misalignment in the components, overloading, water
contamination, viscosity breakdown, or bearing failure occurs, the particle
count will rise. The challenge of this test is the correct interpretation of the
test results. By definition, particle count is: the number of particles in the
fluid greater than a particular micron size per unit volume of the fluid. It is
often stated as particles larger than 10 microns per one milliliter (1mL).
Usually an optical microscope is used to count the particles. Filter and
hydraulic fluid manufacturers have recognized the importance of smaller
contaminants. As a result, they include particle count tests and evaluations
for particles smaller than 4m.
Analyzing fluid samples for the finest contaminants (4m) is included in the
latest ISO Cleanliness Code.
In order to evaluate the fluid, we have to know the threshold for various
performance characteristics. Test parameters for which threshold levels
may be established include:

Dynamic leakage: external and internal

Static leakage: external and internal
Performance characteristics: pressure, flow rate, noise.
Fatigue life of the hydraulic components. It is very difficult to
determine whether a hydraulic component failure is caused by the

Synthetic fluids are a good choice for equipment that is used outside and is
subject to temperature changes. Synthetic fluids can handle a wider range
of temperature changes than petroleum-based fluid.
Thermal effect
The trend in the hydraulic systems design is to increase system power
while using the same physical space. Power is increased by increasing fluid
pressure and it results in increased operating temperature. Some systems
now run with 100C fluid temperature instead of the recommended
maximum of 80C. High temperature changes the viscosity of the fluid,
therefore when selecting the fluid type designers should select the ones
with greater resistance to change in viscosity as a result of temperature


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

One of the most common causes of thermal failure in hydraulic fluids and
some lubricating oils is aeration (presence of air bubbles). These bubbles
can become rapidly compressed in hydraulic pumps and bearings. This
results in extremely high localized temperatures (adiabatic compression)
and leading to sudden formation of carbon fines. Hot surface carbonization
is another form of thermal failure. When oil degrades as a result of high
temperature, it creates problems associated with sludge, varnish, deposits,
viscosity change and additive decomposition.
Negative effect of air
Air in the fluid can cause a great deal of damage to the hydraulic systems.
Air properties that affect the system properties and performance are:
Compressibility- it decreases the stiffness of the system, increases fluid
temperature and causes thermal degradation. Compressed air bubbles can
reach temperatures above 1000C and break down and darken the oil.
Gaseous cavitation- causes wear of the hydraulic components and
increases the noise in the system.
Contains oxygen promotes oxidation of the fluid. Oxidation also increases
at high fluid pressures, temperature or both.
Influence of additives
Industrial hydraulic fluids normally contain anywhere between 99% to
99.5% base oil and about 0.5% to 1.0% by additives. These additives are
important for the hydraulic system operation, particularly when the trend is
to use longer-life fluids. There are many different additive combinations that
can be used in fluids, and using the right additive combination is critical.
One of the main ingredients, which represents approximately 60% to 70%
of the additive package is a compound known as Zinc Dithiophosphate
(ZDP). Fluids containing this additive reduce the wear rate of the hydraulic
components. ZDP reacts with the metal and provides cushioning between
sliding surfaces. It also improves the oxidation stability of the fluid. A fluid
supplier can help identify what mix will provide the best performance for
your equipment. Despite all benefits of the additives, if the fluid is not kept
clean or it is overheated, the additives can be physically removed or
chemically decompose in service. Removing and decomposing the
additives is due to: oxidation, hydrolysis, thermal degradation or they can
be removed by the filter.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


17. Fluid Cleanliness

Most of hydraulic system failures are a result of fluid contamination from
dirt, water or abrasive particles. We deal with the contamination level by
setting up cleanliness level requirements to the fluid. Maintaining a low
contamination level is even more important when the hydraulic system is
new because valves have tighter clearances.
Fluid cleanliness level
Fluid cleanliness is a measure of the amount and the size of contaminating
particles in the fluid. The size of the contaminants is given in microns.
1 micron (micrometer) = 1m = 10-6 meters
Fluid cleanliness level is defined in ISO 4406 standard. This standard uses
a numbering system to define the contamination level.
Cleanliness code
Cleanliness code (per ISO 4406:1999) gives a number of particles greater
than a specified particle size per defined volume of 1 mL (0.001 litters).
The code format is: XX/YY/ZZ
XX refer to the quantity of particles over 4 microns per 0.001 litters
YY refer to the quantity of particles over 6 microns per 0.001 litters
ZZ refer to the quantity of particles over 14 microns per 0.001 litters
For example, hydraulic fluid cleanliness code 20/18/15 indicates that there
219 to 220 particles over 4 micrometers (m)
217 to 218 particles over 6 micrometers (m)
214 to 215 particles over 14 micrometers (m)
Fluid cleanliness requirements
Fluid requirements depend on the pressure and the components in the
system. Systems with higher pressure have higher cleanliness


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

requirements for the fluid. This relationship is given in table 3.5. The
cleanliness code is given only by the second and the third number
(__/YY/ZZ format). Quantity of particles over 4 microns is not provided.
Recommended fluid cleanliness requirements for some common
components at different pressures are given in tables 3.6 (pumps), 3.7
(valves) and 3.8 (actuators). Component internal clearances between
moving parts and system pressures are the main factors determining fluid
cleanliness. The data is based only on the specific test conditions
prescribed by the standard. For different field conditions, the actual fluid
cleanliness requirements may vary.
Recommended filtration
(in microns)

System Maximum


p < 50 bar (5MPa)


15 to 25

p = 50 to 150 bar


12 to 15

p = 150 to 250 bar


10 to 12

p > 250 bar


5 to 10

for (x) 75

Table 3.5

Minimum recommended fluid cleanliness

Less than

More than

(2000 psi)

14 to 20 MPa
(2000 to 3000

Gear- constant




Vane- constant








Gear- variable flow




Vane- variable flow





Table 3.6

14 MPa

20 MPa
(3000 psi)

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Less than

More than

20 MPa

20 MPa

Directional (solenoid)



Check valves



Cartridge valves



Pilot operated check valves



Pressure control (modulating)



Flow control (standard)



Steering orbitrol (open center)



Steering orbitrol (load sensing)



Load-sensing directional



Hydraulic remote control



Proportional directional



Proportional pressure controls



Proportional cartridge



Proportional pressure relief



Servo valves




Table 3.7
Less than

More than

2000 psi

14 20 MPa
2000- 3000

Gear motors




Hydraulic cylinders




Vane motors




Radial piston




Axial piston motors




Cam wave motors





Table 3.8

14 MPa

20 MPa
3000 psi


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

18. Electric Motors

Although electric motors are not hydraulic components, they are included in
this book because they are an integral part of the hydraulic systems. Most
hydraulic systems use a constant displacement pump driven by an electric
motor. There are four main types of electric motors used in mobile truck

Series motor
Armature and field (stator) windings are part of the same circuit. There are
three configurations shown in fig. 3.19
a) Series
Armature and stator winding are connected in series.
b) Shunt
Armature and stator winding are connected in parallel.
c) Compound
A compound motor has three windings: one armature and two fields. One of
the field windings is connected in series and the other in parallel. These two
windings create two magnetic fields. The current flowing through the rotor
and the field is the same.

I = IK
Fig. 3.19

I = IK + IB

I = IK + IB

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Separately excited motor

Armature and field windings are separate. There is an independent control
of the rotor voltage and field current (fig. 3.20)



Fig. 3.20

Permanent magnet motor

Permanent magnet (PM) motors have a magnetic field created by
permanent magnets in the stator. The rotor is similar to the series motor.
Efficiency of the PM motors is within a wider range than DC motors with
field windings. They can be more efficient than the other DC motors
because of the free magnetic field. On the other hand, if the magnetic field
distribution is not uniform, the motor is less efficient.
Permanent magnet stepper (PMS) motors use permanent magnet rotors
and are controlled by electrical pulses. These type motors are not popular
choice for forklift truck applications.

AC induction motor
Only three phase motors are used in lift trucks applications. AC motors
require the use of an inverter which converts the DC to AC current. The
power can flow through the inverter in both directions from the DC battery
to the AC motor and vice versa. The inverter output voltage is always less
than the input voltage.
Knowing the characteristics of each motor, helps designers make better
choices when they are selecting the pump type for the hydraulic system.
Main advantages and disadvantages are listed in table 3.9


Type motor


Chapter 3: Hydraulic Components

construction motor

Require brush

Low cost motor

Difficult to
control high

Low cost controller




Low system (motor

& controller) cost
Easy speed
Require brush
It can have speed
Low cost motor for
power under 1.5
No heat
generation in the

Require brush

Low cost

No brushes. Low
Highest efficiency
Good rotational
speed control. It
has speed

Table 3.9

Need DC to AC
More complex

Hydraulic system
Systems with
constant pump speed

Systems with two &

three pump speeds
Good for energy
recovery systems
Good for integrated
Low power systems
Steering and small
low lift truck systems
Best for systems with
variable pump
speeds. AC
system can
compensate for
increased load or
reduced battery
voltage and maintain
consistent speed.
Best for energy
recovery systems
Best for integrated
(lift and steering)

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 4

Management and Quality of Hydraulic

System Design Process
Brief history of quality
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, a number of
companies saw the connection between the quality of their products and
their long-term success. Some of them started monitoring and controlling
quality in order to achieve higher market success. In 1887, the president of
the Procter and Gamble Company, William Procter, realizing the need for a
quality product told his employees, The first job we have is to turn out
quality merchandise that consumers will buy and keep on buying. At this
time the managers and the engineers did the planning and supervising
while the workers executed the production work. Later, in the 1940s, the
supervision of the quality was transferred to quality inspectors.
After World War II, Japanese companies used the tools of quality to
improve their products and develop a culture of continuous improvement.
The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) financed and
encouraged companies to educate their employees on quality management
practices. The Japanese recognized that inspecting a product does not add
value to the product because it does not change its properties. Instead,
they focused on improving the quality of the process which would lead to
increased quality of the product. The Japanese called it Total Quality
Control (TQC). For them, process control was equal to total quality. In the
late 1960s, Professor Shigeru Mizuno and Yoji Akao developed a
communication tool that converted customer needs to measurable design
characteristics. They called it Quality Function Deployment (QFD). Later,
the Japanese incorporated the value engineering principles in the QFD
matrix. In the 1970s, the quality of the products made by Japanese
companies that applied the quality principles, started to exceed the quality
of their competitors products in other parts of the world. This resulted in a
penetration of the Japanese products into the Western markets.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Toyota Production System (TPS) for example is a process toward reduction

and elimination of waste and anything that does not add value to the
product. In order to achieve this, Toyota involved the production workers in
the process and established a culture of continuous improvement (called
Kaizen in Japanese language). There are two main factors in developing
the Kaizen culture in the company. The first factor is: give workers
ownership of the process they do and the second is: guarantee
employment to all full-time workers.
In the 1980s, American and European companies recognized the
importance of quality improvement programs as a key factor for success
and they started applying quality matrixes to measure their products and
processes and to apply the continuous improvement principles. When
Western companies recognized the value of Total Quality Control (TQC)
and started applying it in North America and Europe they called it Total
Quality Management (TQM). Western specialists used the word
management instead of control because their understanding was that
TQM was a system of managing the people. They hired quality control
specialists and put them in charge of monitoring the quality of the supplies,
the manufacturing process and the final product. European countries under
communist rule also implemented the product quality concept. The
communist parties took a leading role and determined the course of quality
improvement in the country. They had a government quality improvement
program and instructed the managers to implement this program. In some
cases, people, who had little or no production experience, were chosen to
lead and manage the quality process. As a result, they could not involve the
production floor workers and did not achieve the quality level of their
Japanese competitors.
The fundamental difference between the Japanese and the Western
companies in the manufacturing sector was the participation of the blue
collar workers. The Japanese gave ownership of process quality to the
people involved in the process while the Western companies hired
specialists to manage the quality of the process. In North America and to
some degree in Europe, when production was low or when a new process,
eliminating labor is introduced, the extra workers are laid off. As a result,
workers were not motivated to make suggestions on how to reduce the
cycle time or improve the process because they might be laid off.
Japanese companies also have ups and downs in the production volume
but, in order to preserve workers continuous improvement thinking, they

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


dont layoff their full-time workers. Instead, they have part-time hourly
employees. Part-time employees are given more or less hours depending
on the production volume.

Quality of the design directly affects public welfare, health and property.
The safety requirement must always be the number one requirement for
any new product. To ensure an accurately designed product, in many
countries, the firms that perform engineering design work are required to
obtain a Permit to Practice. To obtain such a permit, the firm must satisfy
two conditions:
1. Identify the individuals responsible for the engineering design and
services. The responsible individuals are required to have a professional
engineering license.
2. Carry liability insurance. In addition to the company insurance, some
countries or states require all engineering personal to have secondary
liability insurance.
The United States was the first country to regulate engineering practice.
There are three main factors that determine the quality of any product.
First: quality of the final product is determined by the quality of the design
Second: quality of the final product is determined by the quality of the
manufacturing process.
Third: quality of the design and manufacturing processes are achieved by
defining and measuring each step of the process.
In this chapter, a step-by-step methodology for a hydraulic system design
process will be shown. In the past, quality strategies were focused on the
manufacturing process. Now, the focus is on process management. For
new system designs- the process management approach is a way to
control each step in the design process. In addition, an integration of the
organizational functions and the information flow through all steps of the
design will be shown. The process approach, which includes engineering


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

and management tools, will ensure a quality of the design that is built into
the final product. During the process, the factual approach to measure the
progress will be used. Factual approach is when each factor or parameter
at each step is measured against a predefined value. ISO 9000:2000 states
that the factual approach to decision making is "effective decisions that are
based on the analysis of data and information."
At the end of the chapter, a brief description of patents and their
applications will be included. Novel ideas, whose outcome is obtaining
patents, are the ultimate result of well managed and quality design process.

Main factors that influence the quality of the design are:
Stick to the companys goals and strategic objectives
Strategic objective are a set of long-term directions that would allow the
organization to achieve its long-term goals.
Effective professional communication
Effective professional communication is a two-way interaction which
includes listening, receiving and turning over information both verbally and
nonverbally. The communication is considered effective when the inputs
from this interaction are used to create desired results and solve problems.
Effective communication is a main factor for the continuous improvement of
the organization.
Leadership is an ability to positively influence and motivate people to
achieve the teams goals in an effective way.
Engineering knowledge
Engineering knowledge is a base for any novel approach to new designs
and improvements. In order to design a hydraulic system for lift trucks, an
engineer has to know not only the hydraulic principles but also the
equipment principles of operation such as:

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Load center of gravity- understanding the limits and maximum

lifting capacity at the load center of gravity.
o Mast tilt or reach and the effects on the load balance.
o Kinematics of lift and steering mechanisms.
o Elevating mechanism construction
o Truck stability triangle.
o Ramps and inclines.
The engineer also has to know the operating rules and specific safety
aspects for the equipment.

The generating and testing of new and novel ideas must be one of the main
goals of any engineering organization. Innovating spirit must be
encouraged and rewarded in order to become an organizational culture.
o One technique to generate new ideas is using old ideas and
adding something new to them. This strategy is called:
knowledge brokering.
o Another technique is to take an existing idea in one application
and use it in another application. This technique has been used
the most through-out the history of the technological
Old ideas are the main source of new ideas therefore we need to educate
ourselves and learn the existing practices in order to generate new ones. In
this aspect, it is important that the organization has the means of collecting
such data and making it available to all employees.
There are a number of factors that motivate people. It has been proven that
the financial factor is not the main motivator because it has only short term
effects. Recognizing the individual as a valuable asset to the organization is
one of the biggest motivating factors for best performance and continuous
Focus on quality
Quality of the design process is measured by the quality of the final
product. The final product must meet customer expectations in term of
performance, service, cost of operation and other factors identified by the
Time-to-market and greater value for the customer are the main driving
forces for todays companies success in the market.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Structuring the design process

The philosophy of having a structured design process is a key factor for
implementing a total quality culture in the organization. The three main
principles of the total quality are:
1. Process Infrastructure- that is the process management approach
2. Practices- principle of coordinating the design activities
3. Tools- these are all methods for: collecting data, analysis,
calculations and approaches for improvement and problem solving
The structured system development process explained in this book consists
of 23 steps which are grouped in 7 stages. They are shown in Table 4.1.
Structuring the process will help us to be not only more productive but also
more predictive. Predicting the time for project completion allows the
company to better manage their planning and budgeting.

Design process steps


1. Project scope
2. Evaluate available people
and financial resources
Strategy 3. Form a design team
4. Design team goals and
5. Define customer

6. Define engineering
7. Concepts generation
8. Concept selection

Go/No-Go Screening
Decision matrix

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

9. System design
10. Benchmark 1

11. Evaluation
12. Design review 1
13. Design documentation
tune up


Poke Yoke
Problem solving

14. Prototype of the system

15. Test
16. Benchmark 2
17. Design review 2


18. Test at customer location

29. Validation of the design
Design 20. Benchmark 3
validation 21. Decision to start
22. Evaluate design process
23. Lessons learned

Customer survey


Table 4.1
A hydraulic system is a product in which the cost of the components
represents about 80% of the total manufacturing cost. Since the
components are usually off-the-shelf purchased parts, their cost is easy to
obtain. Therefore, our goal should be to predict the total cost of the system
with no more than a +/- 5% error.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Definitions of tools used

All tools are well described in the literature. In this book, I will only give
short descriptions of the tools.
DFX stands for Design for Excellence. It is defined as a knowledge based
approach whose goal is to design a product or system that maximizes the
desirable characteristics (such as; quality, reliability, safety, time-to-market)
and minimizes the undesirable characteristics (such as manufacturing
DFX includes Design for Manufacturability (DFM), Design for Assembly
(DFA), Design for Producibility, Design for Environment, Quality Function
Deployment, Taguchis Method, and Failure Mode and Effect Analysis.
QFD (Quality Function Deployment) can be part of the DFX process or it
can be used as a standalone tool. QFD is a systematic approach for
improving product/ system quality by making sure that the final product
meets the customer requirements.
QFD tool is used to help us think through every aspect of what our
customers want and how to deliver it. It does not guarantee that we will
make a product exactly the way the customer wants but it does ensure that
our product is as close to the customers requirements as possible. It also
ensures that we design our products more efficiently.
There are four key steps to QFD thinking:
1. Product Planning
2. Part Planning
3. Process Planning
4. Production Planning
A basic QFD house shows the conversion process and the relationship
between customer and engineering requirements. A QFD house for a
forklift hydraulic system is shown in table 4.1 (Appendix E).
Functional Decomposition is a technique of breaking down one problem
to smaller and more easily managed sub-problems. This technique has two
or more steps.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Step one - find a single overall function that this system needs to
accomplish. For the hydraulic system, described in Chapter 5 (Fig. 5.1), this
function will be:
Design an electric forklift truck hydraulic system which will allow the
operator to manipulate the rated payload in all three degrees of freedom up
to the maximum height of the mast.
Step two - decompose the function into top level functions for the
system. The top level functions will identify what the system is supposed to
Step three - decompose further any of the top level functions into
sub-function in order to refine the function as well as possible.
The process will go on until all functions become measurable and simple to
Go/No-Go Screening is an evaluation of whether a proposed concept
meets the corresponding engineering specification. If the answer is YES or
MAYBE, the concept is GO. If the answer is No, then the concept is a NOGO.
Decision matrix is used after a Go/No-Go screening. This tool provides a
means of scoring each concept against pre-defined criteria for comparison.
The matrix has weight columns in which each criteria is given a relative
importance. A decision matrix for a hydraulic system is given in Table 4.2
(Appendix E).
Steps for this method are:
1. Choose criteria for comparison- criteria can be either Customer
Requirements or Engineering Requirements
2. Select concepts to be compared
3. Generate scores
4. Compare scores
Taguchis Method is a technique to optimize the design process in order to
minimize its cost.
FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) is a technique for improving the
quality of a design and manufacturing process by first identifying and then
eliminating or minimizing the potential quality problems.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Description of the design process steps

Step 1 - Project scope
Defining the scope means breaking down the project deliverables into
manageable tasks and establishing resources and milestones that can
provide perspective on the project as a whole.
Step 2 - Evaluate available people and financial resources
Identify the people and material resources required to complete the project.
Step 3 - Form a design team and obtain a project budget
A design team is formed on the basis of people and resources from step 2.
The best practice is to form a cross functional team to coordinate all phases
of the product development, to reduce the time and enhance the crossfunctional communication.
Step 4 - Design team goals and objectives
Define design team goals & objectives
Familiarize all team members with the team goals and objectives
The design team objectives indicate what we want to achieve.
Step 5 - Define customer requirements
Defining customer requirements is a collaboration activity between
engineering, marketing and the customers. The customer requirements are
different for different hydraulic systems. The general requirements for lift
truck application are:

Safe operation
Low acquisition cost
Low total cost (purchase, maintenance, operation)
Ergonomics- ease to use controls and operators comfort
Quiet operation
Little or no down time during the warranty period (1-3 years)
Ease of maintenance
Ability to add attachments to the truck

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Maximum capacity retention at certain height

Programmable lifting/lowering speeds
Ability to work at cold and hot surrounding temperatures
Smooth mast staging
Comply to safety standards
In addition the general requirements, there are specific requirements. The
specific requirements could be defined by one customer or by group of
customers and target specific segment of the market.
Step 6 - Define engineering requirements
The engineering requirements (ER) are also called design specifications
(DS). They tell how we want to achieve the customer requirements and list
the limits in which the system has to work. The process of converting
customer requirement (CR) to engineering requirement (ER) is called
mapping. One of the most effective conversion tools is the Quality Function
Deployment (QFD) technique which is also called house of quality. The
basic QFD house shown in table 4.2 (Appendix E) has three main
List of customer requirements with assigned weights to them.
List of corresponding engineering requirements with measurable units.
List of competitors or benchmarks.
After the structure of the house is constructed, we fill out the relationship
between CR and ER. An example of a QFD for a hydraulic system is shown
in table 4.3 (Appendix F). If for some ERs we cannot put a measurement
unit, it means that they are too general. In this case, we use the functional
decomposition technique to break the general requirements into smaller,
simpler to satisfy and measurable requirements.
Engineering requirements also include all safety and government
requirements described in standards and practices.
Step 7 - Concepts generation
Our goal will be to generate as many concepts as possible for each of the
lowest level functions identified in the decomposition process.
Sources for concept ideas are: previous designs, customer suggestions,
competitor designs, existing patents and technical literature.
The most effective technique for concepts generation is brainstorming.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Step 8 - Concept selection

At this stage, the goal is to select one concept for each function and
combine them into a conceptual design of the system. We can also
combine a few design concepts into one that meets the customers needs
most. There are usually two main steps.
First step is to use the Go/No-Go screening technique. This step is usually
used when we have more than 4 or 5 designs. The outcome will be
reducing the number of designs to less than five.
The second step is to use decision matrix tool. An example of such a matrix
is shown in table 4.1. This technique relates and evaluates each concept
against the customer or the engineering requirements.
When the new concept is selected, we have to make sure that we are not
infringing someone elses intellectual property. It is recommended we
obtain advice from a patent lawyer regarding the potential infringement.
There are cases when we cannot come up with a better idea than our
competitors product and we cannot use their idea because it is protected
by a patent. The steps that need to be taken in this case are described in
the Patents section of this chapter.
Step 9 - System design
System design includes the following activities:

circuit design
calculation of the parameters
component selection
component layout
methods of component control (sequence of commands)
software development and tuning

System design will be our main focus in the following chapters of this book.
Software development and tuning will not be described. This last step has
to be done after assuring that all components are working properly.
Step 10 - Benchmark 1
Benchmark 1 is a comparison of the calculated values against the
engineering requirements, review manufacturing and assembly processes.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Step 11 - Evaluation

Safety and human factors (Ergonomics)

Novelty of design- Is the design patentable?
Innovation- consider emerging technologies that can improve the
Cost of the product- cost of components, assembly time & testing.
Principle of operation

Step 12 - Design review 1

The design review is done together with manufacturing and service groups.
They must confirm that the proposed design can be manufactured at a
predetermined production volume and cost. Then, the manufacturer starts
working on developing a manufacturing process and estimating cost per
unit and cost of service. After they accept the design, these groups are
committed to producing, maintaining and servicing the product. The ability
to do these three activities in the most cost-effective way, determines the
future profitability of the product and the level of customer satisfaction.
Step 13 - Design documentation tune up
At this stage, we tune up the engineering documentation. After this stage,
we should have a set of parts and assembly drawings, components and
system specifications that provide enough information for making a
Step 14 - Prototype the system
At this step we need to build a working model.
Step 15 - Test (Two tests are required for a Hydraulic system)
Performance test
Reliability test
The first goal of these tests is to verify the performance of the system. The
second goal is to determine how the performance of the components and
the whole system changes over a period of time. These tests are performed
per duty cycle for the exact application. The third goal is to see the effects
on other systems (electric, control) of the truck.
Hydraulic component manufacturers usually provide graphs of the best
performance of the new state of products at specific laboratory conditions.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Our goal at this point is to verify the components and system parameters
over a period of time.
The best system performance is verified at 20 C room temperature and 40
C fluid temperature. The worst performance is tested at the extreme
conditions defined in the project specification. All test results must be
recorded and used in the next step.
Another factor is the supplied power. When the hydraulic system is
designed for an electric truck, a fully charged battery must be used. If the
battery voltage goes down, the motor speed also goes down. As a result
the truck performance is decreased and it goes outside the advertised
operating range. For example: if the battery charge goes down to 50%, the
lift motor speed can go down 10% or more during lifting.
Step 16 - Benchmark 2
Benchmark 2 has three sub-steps:

Benchmark for conformance- verification of quality of the design by

benchmarking against engineering specifications.
Competitive benchmarking- this comparison relates our future
product performance to the performance of an existing product.
Manufacturing evaluation- In order to reduce the risk of having
manufacturing defects, improve productivity and reduce assembly
time, at this step of the process, we also evaluate the design based
on manufacturing capabilities.

There are uncontrollable factors influencing the system performance- such

as weather and temperature- but our goal is to identify the limits in which
the system operates. These limits are usually taken from the customer
Step 17 - Design review 2
Review the design for safety, reliability, environmental risks and disposals.
Step 18 - Test at customer location
It is very beneficial for a company if they work together with their
prospective customers. If a customers location is not available, the test is
done at a test location where the proper conditions are established.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Step 19 - Validation of design

Validation of the quality of design is actually the validation of the final
product performance. Be sure to always check the final product against the
customers requirements. This step is necessary because we always lose
information and give up something during the design process. At this step,
we also collect customer feedback.
Step 20 - Benchmark 3
Benchmark 3 compares the customers satisfactions against the initial
customers requirements.
Step 21 - Decision to start production
Up to date results are presented to the senior management and the
management makes the decision for launching the new product.
Step 22 - Evaluate Design Process
Several quantitative and qualitative measurements of the projects activities
must be taken and recorded during the process to determine whether the
goals and objectives of the project have been met. The main measured
activities are:

Duration of time waiting for information- it should not exceed one

business day

Information, libraries and database are available 99% of the time

Time schedule is met 90% of the time

Project budget is within 10% of forecasted cost

Each sub-task has an owner

All activities are recorded 100%

Funds are available at any time

On-going training is scheduled when it is necessary

Follow all technical standards

The total system cost is within +/- 5% of the projected cost


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Number of redesigns/ changes

Number of design iterations that needed to be retested

Customer satisfaction from the final product

Step 23 - Continuous improvement

The main goal is to find a way to execute the design process more
efficiently next time when we apply it. This goal is achieved through
understanding the activities that influence the design time, quality and
Continuous improvement has three steps. First, evaluate the process and
identify where in the process the largest amount of money and time were
wasted; secondly, document all findings and third, look for ways to improve
this process.
The factors that influence the design process can be divided into three

Controllable by designers: people skills, motivation, knowledge,

ability to work in a team
Controllable by the company: Provide training, process, tools,
literature, library, standards and conditions for collaboration between
team members from different departments
Uncontrollable: market and government regulations

Design guidelines
1. Address each function of the system separately before combining
them in a system
2. Minimize the number of component
3. Use standard components
4. At each step of the process- consider the efficiency of the system
5. Lower potential assembly errors (mistake-proof design)

Easy to assemble

Parts cannot be assembled in a wrong way

Obvious when a part is missing

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Assemble from one direction

6. Make the system easy to service

Special tools are not needed

Avoid special instructions

7. Consider liability
Potential liability claims make documentation of quality assurance
procedures a must for any company. By law, anyone who sells a product
that is defective or unreasonably dangerous is subject to liability for any
physical harm caused to the user. Quality of the design reduces the risk of
product liability and provides support evidence in defense of the product.
The company should record all evidences (tests, analysis, FMEA) that
show that the design team made all necessary steps (did everything
possible) to design a safe product including packaging and inspection.
8. Address environmental issues
All designs have to comply with the environmental government regulations.
Future regulations trend to have manufacturers be responsible for the full
life cycle of the equipment. This means that hydraulic system designers
have to think of the disposal cost at the beginning of the design process.
Components that are easier to recycle and hydraulic lubricants containing
environment friendly substances have to be preferred choices when making
component selection. The main design requirements are: use of non-toxic
substances and the use of recyclable and disposable materials. A low cost
environment friendly product is achieved by reducing disposal time,
regulatory cost and making it recyclable. There are few tools and guidelines
available to optimize the complex designs. Two of most commonly used
are: Design for Environment and Design for Disassembly (used to reduce
disposal time).

Documenting the design activities

Documenting the design activities facilitates long-term improvement. We
cannot expect the same people to work on the same designs all the time.
Some people get promoted; others go to other companies and some move
to different positions. A main factor for making the design process better the
next time is well documented steps of all design activities. Clarity and


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

accuracy of the technical calculations are an important part of the practice

of documenting. All given data, assumptions, mathematical and physical
laws have to be specified clearly. Calculations are an intellectual asset for a
company. Therefore, they should be documented in a way that allows any
other engineer with the same background to be able to understand and use
them. Good practice is to put all calculations on a server in HTML or PDF
All design concepts, even if they are not used in production, are essential
intellectual property for the company. Documenting all design concepts is
necessary to prove the invention date if a company decides to seek a
patent protection for the new design. In the last section, I am going to give a
brief description of patents and the patenting process. General
understanding of the process will enable the engineers to communicate
more effectively with patent lawyers.

Project close-out criteria

Any project must come to an end. The purpose of project closeout is to
officially end the project and evaluate the level of success.
The following criteria must be met to close the project:

All issues and action items have been completed and signed off
All required work products have been produced
All deficiencies have been logged and signed off
All quality assurance issues have been addressed
A project termination or cancellation statement exists.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Failure and failure rate

Failure is a state at which a component is unable to perform a required
function or performance. Failure rate is the number of failures per specified
time period.
One of the criteria used to determine the quality of a hydraulic system
design is the failure rate of the system. When reliability is a customers
requirement, this parameter can be part of the engineering requirements
(ER). Further, the ER can include no failure period equal to or greater than
the warranty period. When we evaluate a new design, first we estimate the
reliability of each component separately and then, all components together
as a system.
After the system is in production, we look at the failure rates of the
individual components. The term failure is referred to instantaneous event
of malfunctioning of the system or the component. There are different types
of failures such as: unusual noise, visual mechanical breakage, lost of
power, deviation from system parameters, increased fluid temperature, etc.
There are four failure rate distribution functions that are shown on Fig. 4.1.

In Hyper exponential distribution the failure rate decreases in time.

This distribution shows that there are built-in defects which show
shortly after the system is put into service.

In negative exponential, the probability of failure is constant in time

meaning that the likelihood of malfunctioning is the same at any
period of time. Constant failure rate suggests that the malfunctioning
is caused for random reasons.

Normal distribution is when failures increase in time due to wear

and aging.

Weibull distribution is used because the results are easy to

analize. If the failure rate decreases: < 1. If the failure rate is
constant: = 1. If the failure rate increases: > 1.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Fig. 4.1 (source: AKS Jardine, Maintenance, Replacement and Reliability


A patent is an intellectual property, recognized to be a novel idea, granted
by a Patent Office to the inventor (sole or joint). The legal purpose of the
patent is to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


There are three important parts which any patent must have: 1) a novel
idea, 2) usefulness to society (diligence) and 3) not obvious. There are two
types of industrial patents:
Design Patent
Design type is a novel idea only in the appearance of an object. Its
protection is 14 years from issuing the patent.
Utility Patent
Utility type is a novel idea that is useful to society. These types are
inventions of machines/mechanisms or processes (method of operation or
manufacture); articles of manufacture (casting, molding). Its protection is 20
years from filing.
The first step toward obtaining a patent is preparing and filing a patent
application. The application contains three main parts: a specification
(description of the invention and claims), drawings and an oath by the
inventor(s). The claims define the invention. When more than one person
works on a design, it is difficult to determine the inventors of the subject
matter described in the claims. The rule is that anyone who made a
significant contribution should be included as an inventor.
When filing for a patent, the timing is very important. In the USA and
Canada, the filing must be done within one year from the public disclosure
of the invention. For this reason, it is very important to have confidentiality
agreements with your business partners who have had any involvement
during the design process. The US and the Canadian patent offices apply
first-to-invent rule when they grant a patent, while the European offices use
first-to-file rule.
The government of the United States can stop any patent application from
publishing if it is considered it to be a danger to the national security. In
cases like this, they label the information as classified and instruct the
inventor/s not to disclose or publish the invention. The government is not
obligated to financially compensate the inventor/s.
Patent protection extends only over the country that issues the patent. If we
want to have protection in more countries, we have to file an application in
each of these countries in their official language and according to their
patents laws.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process

Designing around an existing patent

As mentioned earlier there are cases when we cannot come up with a
better idea than an idea that is already protected by a patent. In cases like
this there are two basic approaches.
The first one is to use the patented idea. If they agree, we have to sign a
License Agreement and in most cases pay a loyalty fee which is usually in
the range of 1 to 5% of our products listed price.
The second approach is to design our product around the patent. In this
case, our focus will be to produce a similar product or design which does
not infringe upon the existing patent. Designing around a patent is a widely
used practice which usually results in more novel ideas or improvements.
There are few steps that should be done to ensure we successfully get
around the patent.
1. Read the existing patent. Claims are the most important part but they
are also the most difficult to understand even by a patent lawyer.
That why we should first concentrate on the Description of the
Invention section in order to become familiar with the details of their
2. Review other patents that are given as reference on the front page of
the main patent or make your own prior art search to obtain all
related patents. We have to find some of the other patents that are
expired. Expired patents are free from infringement and they can be
used by anyone.
3. Next we create a design based on a combination of ideas from one
or more expired patents or a combination between expired, nonexpired patents and our own contribution.
4. If we make an improvement to an expired patent, we can file for
patent protection for the improvement only. We can also make an
improvement and obtain a patent for this improvement to a nonexpired competitors invention if we want to prevent our competitor
from improving its design.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Legal aspect of the design process

When a product causes personal injuries, property damage or both, the
harmed person will want to be compensated and he or she, in most cases,
files a lawsuit against the product manufacturer. The party bringing the
action or making the claim in the lawsuit is called a plaintiff. The plaintiffs
goal is to prove that the manufactured product has a flaw because of
manufacturing or design error. The party against whom the claim is made,
or the party defending the action, is called the defendant.
Different states have different legal systems and standards. European
countries and the Canadian province Quebec have civil laws where the
legal principles are written by experienced legislation makers and approved
by the government. The legal system in the USA and Canada (except
Quebec) is based on the English common-law system. This system is also
called the judge-made law system because court decisions establish the
legal principles. In the USA, each state has its own legislation which can be
different from the federal. For example, in California, even if the product
meets all standards, the court can hold the manufacturer liable for any loss
if the product does not perform according to the customer reasonable
The main goal of management and quality of the design process is to
ensure that each design meets specific conditions in order to guarantee
error free design from legal prospective. In a number of cases, the court
found that when the manufacturer builds a product to the engineering
specifications, it has no legal duty to evaluate the safety and test the
device. Therefore, when the design firm and the manufacturer are two
separate entities, the design firm must assume full responsibility for the
safe operation of the hydraulic system.
Lawsuits dealing with design defects of hydraulic systems involve a
complete review of the engineering calculations and standard practices.
The plaintiff tries to prove that there were some of the following elements:


Negligence- Negligence is carelessly executed work or work below

accepted standard. A manufacturer is liable because of negligence
when: a) it fails to make an evaluation that would uncover a
situation that may cause an injury, b) it failed to conduct a test that
would uncover a defect.
Incompetence- Incompetence is a lack of knowledge or skills of a
person who carries out responsibilities of design engineers.


Chapter 4: Management and Quality of Hydraulic System Design Process


Lack of credentials- the engineering firm failed to obtain all

necessary professional certifications.

The engineering design firm, on the other hand, has to prove that in their
design process they:

Properly applied engineering principles.

Anticipated modes of failure.
Provided correct specifications for the user.
Provided instructions for correct inspection and maintenance.

When the system design is completed, the design engineer should be able
to predict the behavior of the system for a defined period of time and
assume responsibility for the safe operation of the system.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 5

Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

In this chapter, hydraulic systems for high lift trucks- classes 1, 2, 4 and 5
will be described. The classifications that are used in this book are the ITA
classifications shown in Appendix A. ITA (Industrial Truck Association)
represents the manufacturers of lift trucks and their suppliers who do
business in Canada, the United States or Mexico. ITA plays a major role in
the development of the industrial truck standards and regulations.
Class 1 is the most common class trucks. It includes counterbalanced sitdown and stand-up rider trucks. Trucks can have either electric motors or
internal combustion (IC) engines.
Class 2 contains the narrow-aisle lift trucks. These trucks dont need
counterweight because the load center is within the outline of the wheels.
They have smaller turning radius and are mainly used at indoor
warehouses with narrow aisles.
Class 3 trucks are also called low-lift trucks or trucks for horizontal
transportation. They can have walk-behind or ride-on operator. The
hydraulic system of this class is described in Chapter 6.
Classes 5 and 6 have the same construction as Class 1 but higher load
carrying capacity. They can have solid rubber or pneumatic tires. Solid
rubber types are made from softer core and harder outside layer and are
preferred for indoor applications with smooth floors. Pneumatic tires are
inflated with compressed air. Because of the better cushioning, they are
preferred for outdoor work and uneven floors.
Class 7 are rough-terrain lift trucks. They are used primarily for outdoor
material handling. Their elevating system consists of a telescopic lifting
arm. The hydraulic system of this class is described in Chapter 7.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

In fig. 5.1 is shown a sit-down counterbalanced lift truck. This type is the
most common lift truck type. The weight the rear of the truck
counterbalances the weight of the load. The truck has two parts: mobile
(tractor) and elevating (mast). Tractor consists of chassis (containing the
battery, the counterweight and the controls), steering and drive units. Mast
frame is constructed from structural steel profiles. Hydraulic cylinders
mounted on the mast are used to lift the loads. Mast can have two or more
sections where the first section is always fixed while the others are

Fig. 5.1 Sit-down counterbalanced lift truck

Elevating system
A triple-mast elevating system is shown in fig. 5.2. This elevating system
has three structural profiles (masts). One of them (1) is fixed while the other
two (2 and 3) are movable vertically. There are two ram type lift cylinders.
The free-lift cylinder (4) is mounted on the outside movable mast (3). It lifts

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


the fork carriage without lifting the mast profiles (fig. 5.2b). The main lift
cylinder (9) is mounted on the fixed carriage (1). It function is to elevate the
movable mast sections 2 and 3 (fig. 5.2c).
Vc = Vcarriage
Vd = Vcyl
Ve = 0


Fig. 5.2
a) lowered position

Main mast
Middle mast
Free lift mast
Free lift cylinder
Pulley 1 (free lift)
Chain 1 (free lift)
Pulley 2 (main lift)
Chain 2 (main lift)
Main lift cylinder

b) free lift,

c) main lift


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Hydraulic Systems Overview

The purpose of the hydraulic system is to control and manipulate the load
functions such as: lifting, tilting, rotating, moving sideways, reaching and
retracting. The hydraulic system should be able to provide enough power to
accomplish some of these functions simultaneously when necessary. In
addition to achieving the prime functions, the hydraulic controls have to
provide smooth and fast motion.
There are two main types of hydraulic systems: open and closed.
Open systems are hydraulic circuits in which the pump draws fluid from a
reservoir and at the end of the work cycle the fluid is returned back to the
reservoir. These systems usually use non-compensated fixed displacement
pumps as a primary source for flow and pressure. Flow rate is controlled by
directional valves or by varying the speed of the pump motor. Maximum
pressure in this system is set by a relief valve and the working pressure is
controlled by resistance to the flow. When the system pressure exceeds the
relief valve setting, the pump flow is bypassed through the valve to the tank.
Open systems usually cost less and provide more freedom in the design.
This type of system is used in most mobile applications for operating the
Closed systems are hydraulic circuits in which the fluid circulates between
the pump and the actuator in a closed loop. Actuator rotational (or lineal)
direction is reversed by using bi-directional pumps and reversing the flow.
Pumps can be either fixed or variable displacement. Closed systems often
use pressure compensated type pumps. The maximum pressure is
controlled by a pump compensator, which cuts off the flow when the
maximum pressure is reached. Supplied pressure continuously adjusts to a
value slightly above pressure demand from the actuators. Sometimes, this
system does not have a relief valve and there is minimum energy waste
while the pump is working. Disadvantages of closed type systems are the
high cost of the pump as well as energy waste in the form of generated
heat when the pump strives to maintain the working pressure at all
The hydraulic systems can also be classified as: 1) full load sensing
systems or 2) systems with load sensing elements. The main focus of these
two types is energy efficiency.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


A full load sensing system can also be closed or open. Closed systems use
a pressure-flow compensated pump and at least one load sensing valve.
The pressure-flow compensated pump is a variable volume piston pump,
which senses the system flow and pressure requirements and delivers
variable flow at variable pressures per these requirements. The pump
stands by at a low pressure in order to save energy. In addition, this system
has a load sensing directional valve which has a pressure feedback. The
valve receives the pressure requirements from the actuator and sends a
pressure signal to the pump. The advantage of this system is the higher
power efficiency. A disadvantage of the system is its high cost. Because of
the high cost, full load sensing systems currently are not used for industrial
truck applications.
Instead of full load sensing, the hydraulic system can be designed as an
open type system which uses a non-compensated fixed-displacement
pump and at least one load sensing valve. This combination appears to
have the lowest cost-per-power ration. For this reason, these types are
becoming more popular and all new designs have elements of pressure
sensing feed back in order to improve efficiency. An example of systems
with a load sensing valve will be discussed in this chapter (fig. 5.13) and
next chapter (fig 6.4).
In the 1990s, lift truck manufactures started using electronically controlled
AC and DC motors as power sources for the hydraulic systems. Availability
of variable-speed motors to drive the hydraulic pumps provided more
design options to the engineers. Mating variable-speed motors with fixeddisplacement hydraulic pumps allows designers to control pump flow rates
by controlling the pump motor rotational speed which improves energy
efficiency of the system.
In this chapter, step 9 (System Design) of the design process, described in
chapter 4, will be explained in detail. System Design includes the following
activities: 1) circuit design; 2) calculation of the parameters; 3) component
selection and 4) component layout.

Design Principles
There are a number of design principles that need to be kept in mind during
the systems design.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks


Think of the system as part of a bigger system

Address all safety concerns
accidental disconnection- it can cause hoses, fittings or fluid under
pressure to fly into the air
over pressurization can cause mechanical failure
safe maintenance
safe hose routing and clamping of the hoses
3. Design the system where customization (modularity) is easy
4. Design the system for easy inspection and monitoring
5. Always look for an innovative approach
6. Use standard components where possible
7. Balance of performance and price (optimized price/performance
8. Integration with analog controllers
9. Consider using network communication. Network saves on wiring.
It would also enable remote system monitoring, track lifecycle,
identify failures. Improve future designs.
10. After the design is completed, take enough time to test the system
and to evaluate the results.
11. Consider the cost of the system
12. Components integration (manifold design) where possible
cartridge valves take less space and cost less than line mounted
reduce number of fittings, hoses and tubing
reduce assembly time
occupy less space
13. Plan for operator friendly controls
14. Use flexible hoses when the hydraulic lines are subject to

Design Requirements
Before we start designing the system, we have to specify the system
requirements. System requirements (design requirements) are the technical
interpretation of the customers requirements. Two techniques- QFD and
Functional Decomposition- are used for converting the customers
requirements into manageable design requirements as described in
Chapter 4. These design requirements become the performance and
hydraulic system requirements. In addition, we have to include the

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


applicable standards (ASME, ISO, Australian, etc). In this chapter the

requirements listed in table 4.1 (Appendix E) will be used.

Maximum weight of the payload 3000 kg

Maximum payload lifting height 3800 mm
Lifting speed (empty) 30 +/- 3 cm/s
Lifting speed (loaded) 30 +/- 3 cm/s
Lowering speed (empty) 33 +/- 3.3 cm/s
Lowering speed (loaded) 33 +/- 3.3 cm/s
Maximum lowering speed 60 cm/s in case of failure in the load
supporting the hydraulic circuit (required by ASME B56.1 Standard,
article 7.25.8 )
Fork tilt
Fork side shift
Maximum work pressure of 25 MPa
Ergonomic controls
Controls arranged in sequence and direction of motion according
ASME B56.1 Standard, article 7.25.6
Reliable system
Maximum system noise level: 60 dB
Temperature range: from -25C to +80C
Fluid cleanliness: according ISO 4406

The next stage in the design process, as explained in Chapter 4, is the

concept development. In this chapter, I am going to describe the most
popular designs and options used by lift truck manufacturers. For each
design, I will show a schematic diagram of a hydraulic system which
satisfies the functional requirements such as lifting, lowering, tilting, etc.
Then, the schematic diagram will be used for initial calculations and for
selecting the parameters of the hydraulic system. When we know the
system parameters, we can calculate the size of the system components
based on the required pressure, flow and efficiency (losses).
The next step, creating the hydraulic component layout, will not be
described here because it is specific to and dependent upon truck chassis
construction. Some mounting and layout rules will be described for specific
components in Chapter 8 (Selected topics).
When going through the design process steps, from chapter 4, the designer
should keep in mind a few basic guidelines that may not be part of the
design requirements but are important for creating a good design.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Minimize the number of components.

The reason for this is not only that each component adds cost to the system
but also because each component restricts the flow, creating pressure
losses and heat. The first step to designing a high energy efficient system is
to keep a minimum number of components.
Size the components properly.
The factors that affect component selection were described in Chapter 3
(Hydraulic Components). Properly selected components provide quick
response of the system functions and minimum drift after the command to
the component is given. Also, the proper components increase the
efficiency and reduce the cost of the system.
Think of the controls for the hydraulic system.
Ergonomic and easy to use controls are becoming the number one user
requirement. Operators spend usually 8 hours in a workplace consisting of
a seat surrounded by controls. Therefore, the designers have to adapt the
controls to the operators biological and physical size and ability. Also, there
is a trend in the material handling industry to hire more female operators.
As a result, more requirements such as: controls on an arm rest, adjustable
controls, rotating controls with the operator, controls not restricting
movement are added. Although most of these requirements are not put in
writing, the design engineer should consider them in order to create a good
design. For example, when selecting a directional valve, the engineer can
specify either manual or electrically controlled. Any of them will do the job.
The proper selection must be based on the solution that will make our
system more user-friendly.
One of the most important requirements usually overlooked is the noise
level requirement. There is increasing health concerns about subjecting
workers to a continuous noise level. In 2006, the European Union placed a
mandatory noise protection directive (2003/10/EU) for all EU members.
This directive set a maximum permitted uniform noise level of 80 dB for the
duration of an 8 hours work shift. Considering that the truck operator is also
exposed to noise from other sources, we lower the maximum noise level of
the hydraulic system to 60 dB measured at the operators place of work.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Hydraulic system with proportional manual

directional valve
Hydraulic systems for lift trucks have normal high pressures of 15 to 25
MPa. In order to create sufficient power for manipulation of the load, the
systems design has to meet the pressure requirements at the worst
operating conditions.
Operating pressure is determined by the load. The operating pressure must
be the same as or less than the rated pressure of the components in the
Maximum system pressure is determined by the relief valve when the valve
is at a fully opened position.
Peak pressure is the peak before the relief valve starts to open and it is
determined by the reaction time of the valve spring. It occurs for less than
100 ms.

Circuit design
The hydraulic system should control different functions (lift/lower, side shift,
tilt or others) independently or simultaneously when necessary. Each
function is controlled by a directional valve. Valves could be independent
components or combined in a valve stack which consisted of different
sections. There are two main types of directional valve stacks: valves
sections connected in parallel (Fig. 5.3) and valves sections connected in
series (Fig. 5.4a and Fig. 5.4b). Valves have a bypass flow path which is
closed when fluid is redirected to the actuators.
The arrangement in figure 5.3 is the most popular directional valve stack
used in the mobile hydraulic systems. For this reason, only this system will
be used for further analysis and its operation will be described in details.
While the system operation is described, we will also discus the different
types of components and determine the ones that best fit our application.
The size of the components will be determined after we calculate the
systems pressure and flow requirements.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Fig. 5.3 Schematic of a hydraulic system with an open-center directional

valve sections connected in parallel.
Components (Fig. 5.3):
1. Reservoir assembly
1a. Breather
1b. Filter
1c. Check valve
2. Flexible line
3. Electric motor
4. Hydraulic pump
5. Pressure relief valve

6. Directional control valve (four sections)

6a. Check valve
7. Flow restrictor (a) with check valve (b)
8. Lift cylinder with safety valve (main lift)
9. Lift cylinder (free lift)
10. Tilt cylinders
10a. Orifice
11. Side shift cylinder

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Fig. 5.4a


Fig. 5.4b

Directional valve with open-center sections connected in series.

In the arrangement in figure 5.4a, the upstream sections (sections closer to
the inlet) of the directional valve have priority to receive flow. Disadvantage
is that when an upstream section is fully shifted, the bypass passage is
closed and there is no flow to the downstream sections. An exception exists
when the first spool is in lowering position (position 1). During lowering, the
flow is available for other functions because lowering is caused by the
weight of the load and it does not require pressurized fluid.
In the arrangement in figure 5.4b, the return line from sections 2 and 3 is
connected to the common line after the valve so that it supplies fluid to the
next downstream section.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Component selection and principle of operation (fig. 5.3)

Hydraulic oil is stored in a reservoir (1). The reservoir is a vented type. In
the lift truck design we are trying to use the weight of the oil in the reservoir
for our benefit. For this reason, the reservoir is either located at the back to
act as a counterweight (for counterweight trucks) or as low as possible to
enhance the trucks stability. When the reservoir is made from non-metal
(composite) material, the filter housing has to be ground to the truck frame
in order to discharge the static electricity created in the filter.
Breather (1a) is mounted on the top of the reservoir. The breather allows
air to enter and exit the reservoir as the fluid level raises and falls. The
breather can have a filter or not. Our goal is to design a hydraulic system
that is able to work in a contaminated area. Knowing that the level of
contamination entering the pump is a critical factor for the life of the whole
system, we can install an air breather (1a) with a filter in it. There are
advantages for the whole system when filtering the air that enters the
reservoir. Using a filter with cellulose media is not popular in the hydraulic
systems for lift truck applications. The main reason is that moisture in the
air can clog the filter which means that it has to be replaced regularly. If the
filter in the breather is clogged, it can create a vacuum in the reservoir and
cause cavitation in the pump. Most breather filters are steel mesh type.
Suction filter (1b) is mounted inside the reservoir (filter head and fitting
ports are outside while the filter cartridge is inside). It is recommended to
mount the filter vertical above the fluid level. Oil flows from the reservoir
through the filter to the gear pump (4) in a flexible hose. A suction filter has
to be equipped with a bypass check valve (1c). This valve protects the
pump from cavitation by a providing parallel flow path and ensuring that the
pressure in the pump inlet stays above a critical value. The valve starts to
open when the filter begins to clog. It is fully open when the filter is fully
plugged. The valve also opens when hydraulic fluid has increased viscosity
because the truck has been parked in the cold or in sub-zero (freezing)
temperatures. The negative side of filters with bypass valves is that the fluid
will bypass the filters every time during cold start. In order to avoid this
condition, the designer can use clogged filter sensor instead of bypass
valve. The clogged filter sensor is a pressure sensor which gives signal to
the pump motor (3) and disables the systems operation until the filter is
changed. When a pressure sensor is used in addition to the bypass valve,

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


its pressure setting should be about one (1) bar lower than the valve setting
and its role is only to alert the operator.
The suction line is the ideal location for a filter because the filter prevents
contamination from entering the system. In some designs, suction filters are
avoided because they create pressure drop and increase the risk of forming
a vacuum in the pump inlet. A vacuum at the inlet can reduce up to 50% of
the life of the gear and vane pumps. To avoid vacuum creation we can
place the pump below the oil level in the reservoir.
Pump (4) delivers the necessary flow for all consumers in the system. For
systems with high pressure and high efficiency requirements, the first
choice is an axial-piston pump. For a cost sensitive system, the first choice
is a gear pump. In this system we are going to use a fixed-displacement
gear pump. When we have an IC (internal combustion) lift truck, the
hydraulic pump is mounted on the drive shaft of the IC engine and a
dedicated electric motor for the pump is not required. In the electric trucks,
the pump is connected to a dedicated electric motor (3). In this system, the
pump always starts before the directional valve opens. The reason is that
pump has to reach a minimum rotational speed and build up pressure first.
Pressure relief valve (5) is built into the directional valve (6). Its function is
to limit the maximum pressure in the system. We use an adjustable valve
when different applications require different pressures. The spring tension
is adjusted in order to provide the desired pressure level in the system. This
can be done by the valve manufacturer or by the hydraulic system
assemblers. The pressure level depends on the maximum load lifted by the
A relief valve has two positions that are controlled 1) when the valve starts
to open and 2) when the valve is fully opened. At the first position, the valve
begins to bypass part of the flow from the pressure line to the reservoir. The
pressure at which this happens is called cracking pressure. The cracking
pressure must always be more than the working pressure of the system. At
fully open position, the valve allows all flow to go back to the reservoir.
Usually the full relief pressure is 20% above the cracking pressure.
When the same valve or the same hydraulic system is installed on different
load- capacity trucks, assemblers on the production floor have to adjust the
relief valve. There are two adjustment procedures used to ensure that the
valve is fully closed during system operation. The first is when the relief
valve is adjusted to the cracking pressure with a load on the forks 10% to
20% higher than the maximum rated load. The second is when the valve is


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

adjusted with the maximum rated load on the forks. In the second case,
pressure readings are used to set up the valve. First, the assemblers
measure the maximum working pressure of fully loaded mast. Then,
unloaded mast is extended until it hit the stops and the flow is bypassed
through the relief valve. The valve spring is adjusted until pressure before
the relief is 10% above the maximum pressure recorded earlier. Correctly
adjusted relief valve does not affect the lifting times. Increased lifting times
indicates that part of the fluid is bypassed to the reservoir. Lifting time within
the design specification indicates that the valve setting is correct.
Check valve (6a), prevents backflow from the system to the pump. It is
placed before each section of the directional valve. The check valve can
also be built into the pump or it can be an in-line type valve.
Directional valve (6) used in this hydraulic system is a manually controlled
proportional type. Proportional type valves allow smooth flow change and
therefore smooth piston motion. The manual control is usually a lever which
is moved by the operator. The valve has a stack of four sections built as
one module. Each section has three positions- one neutral (middle position
2) and two operational (positions 1 and 3). In the neutral position there is no
flow from the valve to the cylinders or from the cylinders to the valve.
Sections are spring centered and manually controlled type. Each section
has a separate valve spool with a separate control and can act
independently from the others. In the neutral position, the pressure line is
bypassed to the reservoir. When flow is required, the hydraulic pump starts
to deliver flow first and then the plunger moves to redirect the flow through
the valve. Shifting the spool opens the ports to the hydraulic actuators and
at the same time closes the bypass line.
The first section is for lifting and it has only one pressure outlet. Each of the
other three sections has two outlets. The fourth section has two quick
connect/disconnect connectors for utilization of additional power
consumers. The manual control is acting only on one side of the spool by a
lever. When the lever is pushed forward, it shifts the spool in one direction.
When the lever is pulled back, it shifts the spool to the other direction.
When the lever is released, the spring returns the plunger to its neutral
position. This type of control allows us to have infinitive positioning of the
spool. When we move the plunger slightly, it opens the pressure port
partially and divides the pump flow sending part of it to the actuator and the
rest of it back to the reservoir. Valve sections are connected in parallel.
When all sections are fully open at the same time (require flow in all four

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


outlets), the fluid will not go to all of them. The reason for this is that the
system has different pressures in the different branches and when the
operator shifts two or more sections at once, the fluid always takes the
lowest resistance path and goes to the outlet with the lower pressure first.
But, if the operator opens the ports, just a little, and creates back pressure
from each spool, then two or more sections can operate at the same time.
Orifice (7a) role is to restrict the flow from the lift cylinders to the reservoir
during lowering of the load. When lifting, the fluid going to the cylinders
passes through the check valve (7b). The check vale has very small
pressure losses and it allows more energy efficient lifting. When the
cylinder is lowered, the check valve (7b) closes and fluid is forced to pass
through the orifice (7a). The orifice cross section diameter has to be
calculated and properly selected in order to create enough back pressure to
achieve the desirable lowering speed.
Single-acting ram type cylinders (8 & 9) lift the payload to the designed
preset height. Cylinders (8) are called main-lift cylinder and their function is
lift the movable sections of the mast. They are mounted on the side or
behind of the mast. Both cylinders (8) are connected via a rigid cross bar so
that they always work together in tandem. Cylinder (9) is called free-lift
cylinder. Its function is to lifts the fork carriage without lifting the sections of
the mast. If there is only one free-lift cylinder, it is mounted in the middle of
the mast. The piston area of the free-lift cylinder (9) is larger than the
combined piston area of both main-lift cylinders (8). Therefore, when oil
pressure is applied, the pressure creates higher force (F= p*A) in the
middle cylinder and this cylinder starts to lift first. Free lift does not increase
the overall truck height and allows the truck to transport the load through
doors. This feature also allows faster lift speeds and requires less power.
When the cylinder (9) finishes its stroke, the flow starts to lift cylinders (8)
together. When the cylinders lower the load, their function is similar to a
weighted (gravity) accumulator. The pressurized fluid holding the load
accumulates potential energy which has to be released in a way that will
absorb the shock waves and provide a smooth lowering piston movement.
As we mentioned in chapter 2, when compressing and decompressing
large fluid volumes in hydraulic cylinders, we have to consider the
compressibility of the fluid factor. Compression of the hydraulic fluid
accumulates potential energy similar to the potential energy accumulated in
a compressed spring. Fluids that are less compressible absorb less energy.
When the fluid is decompressed, it releases this energy creating noise. We
have to control the decompression process otherwise the released energy


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

can damage the systems components. Instantaneous decompression is

controlled by installing a flow restrictor (orifice) (7a) after the hydraulic
actuators (the lift cylinders). The restrictor absorbes some of the released
energy and converts it into heat. For these reasons, hydraulic systems are
designed with as little as possible circulating fluid. Therefore, the system
needs to have as small as possible cylinder volumes and short hydraulic
lines to the cylinders. Cylinder diameters are selected based on two
requirements: 1) hydraulic- provide the desired lifting speeds and 2)
mechanical strength- ability to support compression and bending loads
without permanent deformation.
Lift systems can have a lift speed limit switch that sends a signal to the
electric motor (3) in order to reduce the rotational speed when the load is
lifted above a certain pre-determined height. Reducing the motor speed in
turn reduces the flow rate from the pump and the lifting speed.
Safety valve (8b) is built into the inlet of the cylinder assembly (8). This
valve is a flow control which limits flow rate out of the cylinder to a predetermined maximum rate in case of failure in the support hydraulics or
disconnected hoses to the cylinder. The safety valve, shown in figure 5.2,
has two positions. The first position (free flow) has a larger diameter
ensuring free passage for the flow entering and exiting cylinder. The
second position has two components connected in parallel: a small
diameter orifice and a check valve which ensures flow only in one direction.
The free flow position of the valve is connected to a valve inlet so that the
pressure at the valve inlet acts on the plunger. In additions, there is a spring
action on the same side of the plunger. The other side of the valve is
connected to the cylinder input so that the cylinder pressure acts on the
other side of the plunger. During lifting or controlled lowering, there is little
pressure difference at both ends of the valve and the plunger is pushed to
the free flow position by the spring. When failure in the system occurs, such
as a broken hose or disconnected fitting, the pressure at the disconnected
end (valve inlet) becomes almost zero. Then the pressure from the cylinder,
acting on one side of the plunger, will create a force higher than the spring
force and it will push the plunger in the second position closing the free flow
passage. At this point, the fluid exiting the cylinder will be forced to pass
through the orifice which will restrict the flow and slow down the cylinder
speed to an acceptable safe level.
The safety valves (8b) at the lift cylinder port can be replaced with low cost
flow restricting (flow limiting) fittings. These fittings are placed at the end of

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


the hoses attached to the lift cylinders. They are designed to be inserted
into a hydraulic cylinder. The flow limiting fitting has a built-in valve which
restricts the flow in the event of a hose failure. The hose failure is detected
when the fluid flow exceeds a specified value. This fitting can control the
flow in one direction- when the flow exits the cylinder during lowering. The
flow is uncontrolled when it enters the cylinder.
Two double-acting cylinders (10) are used to tilt the load by tilting either
the mast or the carriage. The cylinder body is mounted to the chassis while
the piston rod end is mounted to the pivoted mast. These cylinders can
have built-in flow restrictors (10a) which limit the speed. Limiting forward tilt
speed is very important because a high tilt speed leads to instability of the
forklift truck. When the tilt cylinders dont have built-in restrictors, an in-line
orifice or flow control is used to control the tilt forward speed.

Selecting fluid lines and fittings

Fluid lines and fittings are selected after choosing all other system
components. First, we select the type of connecting line. For mobile
system, it is best to use flexible hoses because they work better under
vibration and have better dumping properties than metal tubing. Second,
we select the inside diameter (ID) of the hoses based on their function,
pressure rating and inside flow velocity. Recommended flow velocities are
given in Chapter 3.14 (Hydraulic Connectors). Third, we select fittings
based on the hose sizes, components port sizes and components layout.
The fitting ID has to match the hose ID in order to minimize the local friction
losses between the fluid and the internal walls. Forth, if there is no available
component with the desired port size, a compromised based on minimum
pressure loss has to be made. It will require a calculation of local pressure
drops using different ID and type fittings to determine the best combination.
Pressure drop in the lines is calculated with formula 2.26, or it is determined
by using a selection chart. Pressure drop in the hydraulic fittings is
calculated with formula 2.28.
Often designers make a mistake of sizing the connectors by looking at the
component port. This approach usually results in under sizing of the
connectors which in turn causes larger pressure drops and more heat


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Selecting hydraulic oil

The hydraulic fluid is one of the main factors determining overall system
efficiency. Pump efficiency largely depends on the fluid viscosity. When the
fluid viscosity is low, pump mechanical efficiency is high but the volumetric
efficiency is low because of the increased slip (internal leakage). When the
viscosity is high, it reduces the mechanical and improves the volumetric
efficiency. Thick oil must be avoided at low temperature conditions. During
cold start, the hydraulic components have a reduced lubrication which
causes increased contact surface wear. Thick cold oil can also cause
cavitation in the pump inlet.
The system engineer has to consider the temperature ranges in which the
system will be working and select a fluid with the same or wider
recommended temperature range. The mean temperature is the fluid
temperature under normal operating conditions.

Filter selection
The life of the whole system depends on the life of each individual
component. The biggest contributor for component failures in the system is
the number and the size of contaminants (dirt, dust, hard particles, etc) in
the hydraulic fluid. The filter function is to limit the contaminants to an
acceptable level. There are two steps of filter selection. The first step is
selecting the location. Based on the location, the filter can be: suction,
pressure or return. Selecting the location of the filter is based on the
considerations described in chapter 3 (filters). The second step is sizing the
filter which is done at components selection level.

Filter sizing
Filter sizing is based on four main parameters:
1) Maximum flow rate through the filter.
For suction filters it is the maximum pump flow rate.
2) Maximum pressure across the filter.
Suction and return filters do not experience high pressures. For calculation
purpose, we accept that the filter collapsed pressure is at least 1.5 times

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


higher than the crack pressure of the bypass valve. Filters without bypass
valves should have pressure switches which disable the system when the
filter is plugged and yield a replace filter message.
For a pressure line filter, designers have to select pressure ratings higher
than the maximum pressure setting of the relief valve. This higher pressure
rating is needed because of the pressure fluctuation in the fluid.
3) Fluid viscosity
Fluid viscosity depends on temperature. Temperature range for the filter
and the fluid should be the same. If a hydraulic system starts working at
cold conditions, increased fluid viscosity puts extra pressure on the filter
and can damage filtering element. If this risk exists, the filter has to be
tested at cold conditions.
4) Filter retaining efficiency
In the past, we worked with absolute rating and nominal rating. But these
ratings did not describe the likelihood of particles larger than the rating to
go through the filter.
A better measure of filter retention efficiency is the Beta rating (Beta
number) which shows the filter efficiency to capture specific size particles.
Most manufacturers provide three beta ratings: 75, 100 and 200. Beta
ratings (ISO 16889) are a measure of the number of particles greater than
X microns entering the filter divided by the number of particles greater than
X microns exiting the filter. Different Beta values are given in table 3.2,
chapter 3.
A procedure for filtration selection in order to maximize the life of a
hydraulic system is described below.
Determine minimum component clearance
We look at all components in the system and identify the components with
the minimum clearances between their moving surfaces. These
components require the highest fluid cleanliness. The first step is to collect
information for all components, put it in a table and compare the data.
There are two sources for this information: 1) component manufacturers
and 2) standards. Clearances between moving surfaces is a mirror of
quality of the product. It depends on the manufacturing technology, process


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

control and process quality. The component with the least clearance I am
going to refer as: the most sensitive component.
If we do not have data from the manufacturer, we will determine the most
sensitive component based on ISO minimum cleanliness code. For the
hydraulic system shown in Fig. 5.3 we will use the ISO guidelines. First we
will use tables 3.6, 3.7 and 3.8 (chapter 3) and list all the components and
the corresponding cleanliness code for 25 MPa (250 bar) pressure. The
first number of the code is more relevant to precise servo systems and will
be omitted.
System components

Minimum Recommended Cleanliness

for 25 MPa system pressure

Fixed gear pump


Check valves


Proportional Directional valve


Pressure relief valve


Flow control (Orifice)


Hydraulic cylinders


Table 5.1
From the table 5.1 we see that the most sensitive component to
contamination is the directional valve.

Determine minimum filtration

o Select the retention efficiency and the corresponding
number from table 3.2
For example: Select 98.7 % or (x) 75
o Compare the recommended clearance for 25MPa system
pressure from tables 3.5 with the cleanliness requirements of
the most sensitive components from table 5.1 and use the
smaller numbers.
For example: /15/12 < /16/13
Directional proportional valve cleanliness requirement code 15/12 is smaller
and it will be used to determine filtration level.
o Select corresponding level of filtration from Table 3.5, column
3. The recommended filtration is 5 m to 10 m.
A proportional directional valve will require at least 10 micron filter at (x)
75. Lets look for a number smaller than 10 microns (at (x) 75) in the

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


catalogue to find a filter that is already available on the market. For

example, there is an off-the-shelf filter with ratings:
Beta Number








Efficiency at 200 is also referred to as absolute. Therefore the selected

filter has 12 micron absolute efficiency.
Guaranteed system life
We know that the time-to-failure is the time from start-up till the failure of
the first component. The life of the components is given as the number of
cycles to breakdown. So, the time-to-failure of the first failed component will
determine the overall life of the system. With a filter having a 12 micrometer
at 200 we can guarantee that the most sensitive component
(proportional directional valve) will be able to reach the number of cycles to
failure specified by the manufacturer.
L10 life of a component (for example L10 = 10,000 cycles) means that 90% of
the components are expected to fail after 10,000 cycles of service and 10%
of the components are expected to fail before they reach 10,000 cycles.
The method for filter selection does not take into account system failures
due to poor connections selection, improper assembly, system abuse or
operation under extreme conditions.

System Efficiency
The ultimate measure for system efficiency is the total pressure drop from
the pump to the hydraulic actuators. A large pressure drop in the hydraulic
components results in a requirement for higher input pressure. This
increases the load on the hydraulic pump and requires more power from
the drive motor. Even properly working pump loses its efficiency gradually
so, the efficiency loss must be considered then the system is designed.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Select hydraulic components
Usually the first selected components are the pump and the actuators.
From the initially selected maximum pressure and payload we determine
the diameter of the lift cylinders. First we determine the diameter of the two
main-lift cylinders and then we select the diameter of the free-lift cylinder so
that the piston area of the free-lift cylinder is larger than the combined areas
of both free-lift cylinders. The cylinder diameters are calculated from the


kASC =




d 2


is the area of one cylinder.

is the number of lift cylinders

LT [N]

is the total load on the cylinders

p MAX [Pa]

is the maximum system pressure


is the efficiency of the lift cylinder. Ram (plunger) type

cylinders have: CYL = 0.95 0.98


2 LT




Select diameter that is larger than the calculated value.

Calculate the work pressure in the lift cylinders.
From equation 5.1:

pCYL =





Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Calculate flow requirements

After we select the diameters of the main-lift and the free-lift cylinders, we
calculate the necessary flow rate, Q , for the given lifting and lowering


ASC m 3

n s


n = 2 is called polyspast number (or mechanical advantage of pulley
operated mast mechanism) and it is the ratio:


load _ lifting _ speed
= C
cylinder _ lifting _ speed Vd

(see fig. 5.2)

= 30 + / 3 [m/s] lifting speed (given)

Knowing the flow rate and the maximum pressure, next we select the
hydraulic pump. Pump displacement (d) is calculated from equation 3.4

dP =

Q P cm 3
n V rev


QP [cm3/min] is the flow rate.
n [rev/min] is the shaft input rotational speed
V is pump volumetric efficiency.
The next step is to determine the volume requirements of the system and to
select the components per these requirements. The components that most
affect the required fluid volume are the lift cylinders. As mentioned, for
lifting we use single-acting ram type cylinders; for tilting we use differential
(double-acting) cylinders; for a side shift we can use either differential or
non-differential cylinders.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Select the length of the ram cylinder

Length of the cylinder, S, depend on the maximum height of the lift mast.
Lift mast height is derived from the payload lifting height and its type.


H a+


H [m] is the height of the mast

a [m] is the fork thickness

is the dimension tolerance compensation

is the polyspast number. This is a reduction number due to

use of a pulley. In most cases, lift trucks have n = 2.
Now, after these preliminary calculations and selections are complete, we
can calculate all parameters of the system. If we find that some of the
systems characteristics are unsuitable, we can go back and change the
corresponding component and make the calculations again. In order to find
the best balance between system performance, system cost and
component availability, we might have to repeat all of the calculations a few
times. Very often a new hydraulic system is designed around an existing
one. In order to reduce the number of components, very often designers
use the same components in different systems. So, finding the right
balance that works best for a range of hydraulic systems will require a
repetition of the same calculations for different parameters (pressure, flow
and losses). The best practice is to use software, which will calculate all
parameters automatically when changing any given value.
Calculate the pressure losses in the system
Pressure losses are calculated after the type of the fluid, and the hydraulic
lines are selected. The given is: flow rate (Q), fluid density (), fluid
viscosity (), hose diameter and lengths and all fittings. There are two types
of pressure loss (lineal and local) that were described in chapter 2. Lineal
losses occur in the straight sections of the hydraulic tubes or pipes. Local
losses are a result of change in the flow speed and direction. Pressure
losses due to changes in elevation are insignificant and will be excluded
from the total losses.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The procedure is:


Determine fluid velocity from equation 2.18.


2. Determine the type of flow from equation 2.11.

Re =

If Reynolds Number is higher than 2000, it means that there is some

turbulence in the flow. In this case we have to change some of the
parameters (hose diameter, flow rate or type of fluid) in order to ensure a
laminar flow. Having a laminar flow ensures minimum losses and higher
system efficiency.
3. Calculate the coefficient of linear resistance for laminar flow,
[Lambda ]
For round cross sections: =
4. Calculate linear pressure losses from formula 2.25

l q

d 2 S

After we replace velocity V =

p LIN =


l 2
d 2


5. Calculate the coefficient of local resistance for laminar flow, [Zeta ]

The values of Zeta are given in table 2.1 (Appendix D).
6. Calculate local pressure losses from formula 2.27.
Where, we replace 1 and receive:


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

p LOC =



7. Pressure loss of the hydraulic components

This is the sum of the pressure loss, pCOM, through all components that
the fluid passes while going from the pump to the actuator. For the lifting
circuit described in fig. 5.1,
pCOM = p 6 + p 7b


p6 are the losses in the directional valve (6) and
p7b are the losses in check valve (7b).
Losses in the components at defined pressure and flow are given by the
component manufacturers.
8. Total pressure loss from the pump to the lift cylinder is:
p SYS = p LIN + p LOC + pCOM
Calculate the pressure requirements at the pump discharge port

p PUMP = pCYL + p SYS [Pa]

Calculate system power requirements
The electric motor power is (equation 2.25):


[kW ]


PUMP is the gear pump efficiency

Q [L / min] is the flow rate in liters per minute


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


p PUMP [MPa] is the pressure at the pump discharge port in Mega

Calculate torque on the pump shaft
To calculate the input from the drive motor torque, we use equation 3.6:


pd P
m ( Nm )


p is pressure at the pump outlet

dP [cm3/rev] is pump displacement
m is pump mechanical efficiency.

Next, the electric motor is selected from the power and torque requirements
of the system.
A calculation of the parameters of the hydraulic system, described in fig. 5.3
and using the elevating section shown in fig. 5.2, is given in Appendix F.

Load lowering speed

One of the requirements of the system is to maintain constant lowering
speed (within +/- 10%) regardless of the load weight. The hydraulic
restrictor (7a), fig. 5.3, creates backup pressure and reduces the lowering
speed but it does not maintain the same lowering speed for different loads.
Constant speed requirement can be met by connecting a flow regulator in
the return line. The next example shows the difference between a flow
regulator and an orifice when they are used to control the lowering speed of
the lift cylinders (8) in fig. 5.3.
Fig. 5.5 shows the pressure drop - flow (p Q) characteristics of a flow
regulator and an orifice during the lowering of the payload.
Flow regulator characteristic has an initial steep flow increase due to the
spring force in the counterbalanced valve (valve is described in chapter 3).


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

After the pressure drop p reaches 2 MPa, the valve closes and maintains
relatively constant flow. When the pressure drop across the valve
increases, the valve has to compensate more which produces a tailing off
effect. The tailing off effect tilts the graph up or down off its horizontal line.
Since constant flow maintains almost constant lowering speed, when a
constant lowering speed is required, we use a flow regulator. The flow
regulator does not maintain a constant flow only in the first part of the graph
for pressure drop where (p) < pmin.
The orifice characteristic is a quadratic relationship between the pressure
drop (p) and the flow (Q). When the load is increased, p increases as
well. The valve has a high flow rate at high pressures (maximum load on
the forks) and a low flow rate at low pressure (no load). Orifice valve
characteristic provide high lowering speed when the lift truck is fully loaded
and low lowering speed when it is empty. The reduced lowering speed
reduces the overall truck productivity. The only advantage of using orifice is
its simple construction and low price. For this reason, orifice is used to
control lowering speed only in systems where the low cost of the system
outweighs the increased productivity.


Flow (l/min)






Flow Regulator



Pressure drop B->A (MPa)

Fig. 5.5 Flow rate comparison



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Hydraulic system with electrically controlled

In the last decade, electrically controlled proportional valves are slowly
replacing both discrete type valves and manually controlled proportional
valves. This trend is a result of a number of factors such as ergonomic
requirements, software development, new electronic components, new
sensors and CAN bus technology. An example of a system with electrically
controlled proportional directional valves (6a and 6b) is shown in Fig. 5.6.

Fig. 5.6


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

1. Reservoir assembly
2. Flexible line
3. Electric motor
4. Hydraulic pump
5. Pressure relief valve
6a. Proportional directional valve for lift and lower
6b. Proportional directional valve for tilt
6c. Proportional directional valve for side shift
7. Check valve
8. Flow control
9. Lift cylinders
10. Tilt cylinder
11. Side shift cylinder
12. Check valve

Principle of operation
The main difference between this system and the first one (Fig. 5.3) is that
the directional valves (6a, 6b, 6c) have electric controls. Lift and tilt valves
(6a and 6b) are proportional type valves controlled by proportional electric
signal while the side-shift valve (6c) has an ON/OFF control.
Unlike the mechanical type where the control lever is mechanically linked to
the valve, electrically controlled valves are connected to the controller with
wires. Connecting components with wires allows more design freedom
because the valves can be placed anywhere on the truck.
Electrically operated valves can be equipped with a manual override. A
manual override can be a screw or push-pull button. It is used to: 1) reset
the plunger in its neutral position when the plunger is stuck as a result of
contamination. Easy plunger movement shows that a plunger is not seized;
2) activate the valve and lower the load when power to the valve is lost. In
the hydraulic system shown on Fig. 5.6, the lift/lower directional valve (6a)
is equipped with manual push button.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


A control lever (joystick) that includes buttons and switches can be used to
control the valves. Any movement of the joystick results in corresponding
movement of the work mechanism. Using a joystick design allows
designers to develop a more ergonomic operators compartment.
Solenoids of the proportional valves can be controlled either directly by a
potentiometer or by an electronic controller. The potentiometer is usually
placed inside the joystick. Joysticks can have a mechanical potentiometer
or solid state potentiometer (based on inductive technology) to translate
mechanical motion into electric signal output. In the last few years the trend
is to use joysticks that have a CAN bus interface. CAN bus technology
allows electronic communication with a minimum number of wires and
When a programmable controller is used, the potentiometer sends a signal
to the controller which in turn sends a signal to the solenoid that controls
the valve plunger. The position of the plunger determines the flow rate
through the valve. The flow rate controls the position and movement of the
work attachment. In this case, the joystick is configured only to deliver
commands to the controller. Operators can activate two or more functions
by pressing two or more buttons simultaneously. The controller can be
programmed in such way that some commands are restricted when they
are in conflict with commands already taking place. These restrictions are
used for safety reasons.
There are two basic types of valve controls: electric and electronic:
An electric control is when the valve solenoid is controlled by changing the
input voltage by continuous analog signal directly from the control handle
(joystick). A potentiometer changes the value of the signal proportionally to
the handle movement. The solenoid armature motion is proportional to the
input voltage. Armature pushes the valve spool. Usually, proportional
valves have a voltage or a current control. Discrete (ON-OFF) valves have
a voltage control. Voltage is turned on and off by electric switch.
An electronic control is when a programmable electronic device controls the
input signal to the valve solenoids. Electronic control can be an analog or a
digital signal. Digitized signals have definite number of steps. For example
if the digital controller has eight-bit signal, there will be 256 (28 = 256) steps
available. The resolution of eight-bit controller will be 0.4% (1/256 =


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

0.0039). Modulated (PWM) digital signals are used to control to proportional

solenoids. PWM signals are described in this chapter. ON/OFF signal are
used to control solenoids for discrete valves.
Voltage is a result of current and resistance. When the valve heats, the
valve coil resistance changes which leads to a voltage change. Valves that
need fine adjustments are controlled by changing the current because it
does not depend on the temperature

Signal modulation
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is a method of controlling the signal. The
signal is controlled by a transistor. The transistor is an ON-OFF switch
which controls the average value of the signal by controlling the width of the
signal (the time signal is ON). Modulation time is the time (measured in per
cent) when the signal is on. One hundred percent (100%) is practically a
continuous signal and the voltage is equal to the maximum.



100% modulation

50% modulation

V = 24
V = 12
t [s]

t [s]

Switching frequency is the rate at which the signal is turned ON and OFF
and it is called PWM frequency. PWM frequency must always be higher
than the valve resolution. Then, the spool is too slow to respond to the
instantaneous ON-OFF switching and it responds to the average value.
Valve resolution is the smallest increment of input signal (input frequency)
at which the valve spool can respond.
The current to the valve solenoid will be:
I = V/R (amp)
Where: V is PWM average voltage and R is coil resistance

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Using an electronic control we can have pre-set (programmed) rates of

spool travel, acceleration and deceleration. Advantages of electronically
controlled systems are the flexibility of changing the systems performance
based on specific conditions. Different parameters correspond to different
conditions. For example, when lifting and lowering speeds are controlled by
software parameters, we can change them by simply changing these
parameters. Also, we can adjust the speed according to outside conditions
such as: surrounding temperature, truck speed, lift height and others.
Valves can be manufactured as cartridge type valves and assembled into a
common block (manifold). For the system shown in Fig. 5.4, we can
assemble the three proportional valves (6), the relief valve (5) and the
check valve (12) in one manifold.

Dither signal
Dither signal is a high frequency input signal. Dither signal is added to the
control signal in order to achieve smooth spool motion. The dither makes
the valve spool vibrate at high frequency. This vibration makes the spool
movement smoother by diminishing sticktion in the valve. It is important to
choose a correct frequency and amplitude dither signal. Dithering reduces
the valve hysteresis and makes valve performance more consistent. The
minimum dither frequency is part of the valve specification and it is provided
by the manufacturer. Excessive dithering can negatively affects the static
and dynamic characteristics of the valve.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Hydraulic System with Independent

Emergency Lowering
When the load is raised, the directional control valve can fail so that its
plunger can not be switched into the lowering position. In this case the load
has to be lowered by other means. In the previous examples, directional
valves with a manual override were showed. The manual override is a
manually operated control to switch the valve in lowering position. Another
solution for lowering the load is adding a line between the lift cylinder and
the reservoir. This additional connection is called emergency lowering
Independent lowering circuit is used more often in hydraulic systems with
electric spool type directional valves. Valves with electric controls are more
susceptive to contamination than valves with manual controls. When the
coil is energized, valve spool is magnetized and it attracts iron particles
from the oil. For this reason, hydraulic systems with electric proportional
valves have higher fluid cleanliness requirements. Spool valves with
positive lap design (see fig. 3.7) are more likely to fail as result of iron
contamination than poppet type valves.
Two systems (5.7a and 5.7b) with emergency lowering will be described.
In the first system (fig. 5.7a), the emergency lowering valve is independent
from the lift/lower valve. Independent load holding is required for lift
operator platforms or cabins. The lowering valve is always manually
controlled. It can be a directional type or screw-in type needle valve. The
screw type needle valve is more cost efficient. The needle valve has a
small orifice with a tapered seat and a needle-like plunger which closes off
the orifice when it is in the screwed-in position. This valve allows precise
regulation of the flow rate because it has a fine-threaded screw and takes
many turns to move the plunger from a fully open to a fully closed position.
The needle valves can either be opened with a lever or allen wrench.
Using a wrench is more inconvenient but it makes the valve fool-proof
against unintentional actuation.
When the valve can be activated by pushing/ pulling a button or lever, the
valve must be located out of the operators reach during his/her normal

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


work functions in order to eliminate the risk of activating it by mistake.

Emergency lowering circuits are added when the main directional valves
are not easily accessible.

Fig. 5.7a Hydraulic System with an emergency lowering valve connected in

parallel to the main control valve
In the second system (fig. 5.7b), the lowering valve has a manual override
which is used for emergency lowering. The lowering valve is normally
closed, ON-OFF type with electrical control. When the solenoid is deenergized, the flow can go only in one direction: from the priority valve to
the lift cylinder. When the solenoid is energized, the valve is shifted and the
flow goes to the return line.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks




electrical lowering valve

with manual

Fig. 5.7b System with lowering directional valve which has a built-in check
valve and a manual override for emergency lowering

Energy recovery systems

Vehicle performance is measured by the length of time a truck maintains a
normal handling operation. This length of time depends on two aspects: the
amount of energy that the vehicle can carry and the efficiency of the
hydraulic system. In the electric trucks the energy is stored in the vehicle
battery while in the internal combustion (IC) engine truck the stored energy
is in the fuel. In many truck configurations the battery (or fuel tank) size is
limited to the available compartment space. That is why a goal for
engineers is to design an energy efficient hydraulic system. An efficient

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


system improves the fuel consumption in IC trucks or increases the battery

life on electric trucks. Each hydraulic system consists of two groups: 1) a
power source (motor and pump) that converts mechanical or electrical
energy into hydraulic energy and 2) a system of components that transports
the hydraulic energy and converts it back to mechanical power.
When thinking about the efficiency of the power source, the first thing to
consider is the type of motor that drives the hydraulic pump. There are two
types of motors: 1) electric motors and 2) IC engines. Even a small
increase in efficiency of the motor results in increased efficiency of the
system and yields huge energy savings. When running continuously at or
almost at a full load, the annual energy cost for running a motor can be up
to 20 times its purchase price. In this regard, the increased price of a highefficient motor will be an insignificant factor in the motor selection decision.
When energy efficiency of the drive motor is one of the design
requirements, the following data has to be considered:

Efficiency of an AC motor is about 96%

Efficiency of a DC motor is about 90%
Efficiency of an IC engine varies from 36% to 40%
Lift motors operate less than 50% of the time
Steering motors operate 100% of the time
Electric motors for hydraulic systems are independent from the drive
motors. Therefore, their speeds can be controlled per the hydraulic
system flow requirements.
IC engines run 100% of the time because they have to support all
systems at the same time.

This chapter describes ways for increasing system efficiency by recovering

hydraulic energy. Energy recovering systems use the energy of the
returning fluid during the lowering process. The potential energy of the
raised load is converted to hydraulic energy. Weight of the load is used to
drive pressurized fluid through the hydraulic motor or to supply fluid to other
hydraulic functions. Then the hydraulic motor drives a generator which
produces electric energy and charges the battery.
There are three main types of recovery systems (fig. 5.8).


Fig. 5.8 a) unidirectional

pump and flow

Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

b) Reversible
pump and flow

c) Separate
pump and motor

1. Unidirectional pump and flow (fig. 5.8 a).

The hydraulic pump is rotated only in one direction. The return fluid is
connected to the pump inlet. Pump construction has to allow pressurized
fluid at both ports. By connecting the return flow from the lift cylinder to the
pump input the fluid can be supplied to other actuators while lowering the
2. Reversible pump and flow (fig. 5.8 b).
Rotation of the pump is in one direction for lifting and is reversed during
3. Separate hydraulic pump and motor (fig. 5.8 c).
The pump is used only for lifting the load while the motor is used only for
energy recovery. Both pump and motor can be connected to the same
motor/generator (shown on Fig. 5.8 c) or to separate electric machines (not
shown). When they are connected to the same electric motor, there is a
one-way clutch between the motor and the generator which allows torque
transmission only in one direction: from the motor to the generator.
In the next example, a system with one way pump and flow is described.
The returning from the lowering cycle fluid is utilized in order to generate
electric power. The returning flow is used for two functions: to supply other
hydraulic functions and to drive the hydraulic pump/motor. A schematic of
the hydraulic system is shown in Fig. 5.9.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Fig. 5.9

Principle of operation
Hydraulic pump/motor (4) is coupled with an electric machine (3) that can
work as a motor or a generator. The electric machine (3) always works in
the same direction. The relief valve (5) is placed between the pressure line
and the return line. The return line has a return filter (2) with a check valve
connected in parallel. This hydraulic system has three main branches that
support three functions: lifting/lowering, tilt and side shift. Directional valves
(6 and 7) have controls independent from each other which allows the
operator to activate each of them separately or at the same time. Each
three-position directional valve has a neutral middle position. The middle


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

position has a bypass passage which ensures free flow from the pump to
the reservoir. There are two ways to control the speed of the lift cylinder:
flow resistance control and pump control. With flow resistance control, the
flow rate to the cylinder is controlled by changing the opening of the
proportional valve (6 or 7). When the proportional valve is partially open, it
allows the excess flow to go for auxiliary functions. Pump control is when
the flow rate is controlled by changing pump rotational speed. Pump
controlled lifting is more energy efficient because there are less hydraulic
losses. Disadvantage of it is that it has a longer response time.
The unique feature of this system is the lowering branch configuration. One
end of it is connected to the lift cylinder (11) inlet and the other end is
connected to the suction line between the check valve (8) outlet and the
pump inlet. This way, all returned fluid during lowering goes through the
pump. Flow rate of the return fluid can be controlled either by the
pump/motor (4) or by a flow control (9).
In the case of motor controlled lowering, valve 9 and 10 can be replaced
with one proportional directional two-position valve (not shown). The motor
has a speed sensor (not shown) which sends actual rotational speed to the
controller (not shown).
The flow control (9) has a constant flow through the valve at different
pressures in the lift cylinder. This constant flow provides lowering speed
that is independent from the load. It also limits the rotational speed of the
pump (4) and the electric machine (3) because pump rotational speed is
proportional to pump volumetric flow.
When the return fluid is not needed for another function, the pump/motor
acts as a hydraulic motor and the electric machine works as a generator
and recharges the battery. The fluid goes thought the bypass passages of
the valves (7) back to the reservoir.
When fluid is needed to move tilt (12) or side shift (13) cylinders, one or
both valves (7) shift and redirect the flow to the auxiliary functions. Then,
part of the flow goes to drive the auxiliary cylinders while the unused part is
bypassed to the reservoir. If the tilt or side-shift actuators require more flow
and pressure than supplied from the return line during lowering, the electric
machine works as a motor and rotates the pump to create the necessary
flow. In this case, in addition to the return fluid, the pump pulls out fluid from
the reservoir.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


In the energy recovery modes the return fluid is used for other functions
before going to the reservoir. If the fluid is too hot, it will have a negative
impact on its life and on the efficiency of the whole system. For this reason,
reservoir design that ensures proper cooling is essential for this design.

Hydraulic Steering System

Steering system function is to provide power for manipulation of one or
more wheels of the truck. Lift trucks power steering can be: electric,
hydraulic and electro-hydraulic. This book will describe only hydraulic and
electro-hydraulic systems. A hydraulic steering system can stand alone with
its own power source (pump and motor) or it can be integrated with another
hydraulic functions system (fig. 5.13). The stand alone system can have
separate reservoir or it can share the reservoir used for other functions.
A hydraulic steering system for lift trucks is usually a medium pressure
system- from 5 to 15 MPa (50 150 bar)
As we stated, before designing the steering hydraulics, we have to specify
the system requirements. The system requirements (design requirements)
for this system are:

Maximum pressure in the system = 8 MPa (the pressure requirement

is calculated from the steering forces requirements)
Revolutions of steering wheel that turn the truck wheels from full left
to full right position: N = 3 to 5 revolutions
Maximum revolutions per minute of the steering wheel = 90 [rev/min]
Maximum system noise level: 50 dB
Temperature range: from -25C to +80C
Fluid cleanliness: according ISO 4406


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Steering system schematic

All hydraulic steering systems must have a hydraulic pump, a steering valve
connected to a steering wheel and an actuator which moves the steering
mechanism. The actuator can be a cylinder which converts the hydraulic
flow into linear motion (Fig. 5.10) or a motor which converts hydraulic flow
to rotational motion (Fig. 5.11). The type of actuator depends on linkage
design of the mechanical steering mechanism. The system usually has its
own filter that is placed either in the suction line before the pump (Fig. 5.10)
or in the return line (Fig. 5.11).

Fig. 5.10 An example of a stand alone steering system with a hydraulic

cylinder as actuator for the steering mechanism

Filter with check valve
Hydraulic pump
Steering valve, type: Orbitrol (with built-in relief and check valves)
Steering wheel

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


6. Double-acting cylinder (fig. 5.10) or Hydraulic motor (fig. 5.11)

7. Sprocket or gear (fig. 5.11)

Fig. 5.11 An example of a steering system with a hydraulic motor as

actuator for the steering mechanism

Component selection and principle of operation (fig. 5.10)

The first component that has to be considered in this system is the
hydraulic cylinder (6) Fig. 5.10. It can be either single or double acting. A
double-acting cylinder is preferred because it allows simplified geometry of
the steering mechanism which reduces the number of mechanical links.
The cylinder can be stationary mounted onto the truck chassis or the
steering axle. Piston rods are connected to the wheels (not shown). Piston
stroke is defined by the kinematics of the steering mechanism. Cylinder
selection is determined from the piston rod strength requirements, the
piston size and volume requirements.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Steering valve (4) is selected on the basis of the steering wheel number of
revolutions. Our goal, per design requirements, is four revolutions. The
valve has to ensure that four full turns of the steering wheel will result in
turning the truck wheels from full left to full right position.
The steering valve has a built-in relief valve. When steering is performed,
the relief valve is fully closed and all flow is circulated though the Orbitrol.
When steering stops, the pressure increases and the valve opens. Then all
flow from the pump goes through the valve to the reservoir. Some steering
control valves have a return-to-center feature. The valve returns the
steering control to neutral position when it is released by the operator. This
returns the tires automatically to their center position.
Steering wheel (5) is mechanically connected to the Steering valve
Filter (2) is placed in the return line. It must have a check valve, connected
in parallel, which opens when the filter is plugged. The check valve will
ensure a continuous flow from the pump to the reservoir when the filter
fails. Continuous flow is necessary to guarantee truck steering.
Reservoir (1) is a vented type. It can be separated or combined with the
reservoir of the hydraulic system for the lift/lower and the auxiliary
Pump (3) is a fixed displacement pump.
Calculating the pressure requirement
Let us look at the system in Fig. 5.10. Pressure in the system is a result of
the steering force FS [N] acting on the piston in the cylinder. Steering force
is determined by the moment which is necessary to turn the wheels. The
pressure inside the cylinder is:

pCYL =

FS 1
[ Pa]


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks



D2 d 2
[m2] is the cylinder area on which pressure is acting.

D is the piston diameter

d is the piston rod diameter


is the cylinder efficiency

Then, the required pressure in the pump outlet is:

p PUMP = p CYL + p H



p H

are the pressure losses in the hoses and the fittings from the
pump to the cylinder.
Calculating the flow requirement

Selecting Orbitrol displacement:

VCYL cm3
dS =
N rev





[cm3] is cylinder volume

is number of steering wheel revolutions


[cm3/s] is steering valve displacement

Selecting steering pump flow rate:


N MAX (d S ) l



Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

K = 1000

is a coefficient to convert cubic centimeters in liters.


is the maximum number of revolutions per minute.

The maximum recommended speed is:

N MAX = (1.5 2) N A


NA is the average rotational speed of the steering wheel

Determine the steering valve size and the required pump flow rate for a
steering system with a double-acting cylinder with piston diameter D = 80
mm and rod diameter d = 56 mm. The mechanism kinematics require a
cylinder stroke S = 140 mm. Design requirements specify from 3 to 5
steering wheel rotations from full left to full right turns.

Cylinder volume V in cubic centimeters is:


(D2 d 2 )


(80 2 56 2 )10 4

[ ]

(140)10 2 = 358.9 cm3

= 89.7
dS =

We select Orbitrol. For example: Danfoss 80 which has a displacement of
80 [cm3/rev].
Using this valve the steering wheel rotations will be:

[ ]

VCYL 358.9 cm 3
= 4.5 [rev]


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Revolutions = 4.5 is within out design specification.

Knowing that an average operator turns the wheel with a speed of 60
revolutions per minute (NA = 60), the maximum rotational speed will be:

N MAX = (1.75) N A = 105

Then, the steering pump flow rate will be:


N MAX (d S ) (105)(80)
= 8. 4

Flow rate together with motor rotational speed are used to select the pump
displacement. The displacement is calculated from equation 5.5. The
process of pump selection is described in chapter 3 and in the example in
Appendix F (Hydraulic System Calculation).

Electro-Hydraulic Steering System

Microelectronics development in the 1980s and the 1990s allowed the
electro-hydraulic steering systems to match the performance and
manufacturing cost of traditional hydraulic steering.
An example of an electro-hydraulic steering system is shown in Fig 5.12. In
this system a proportional directional valve (4) replaces the Orbitrol type
steering valve. The proportional valve (4) controls the flow to the hydraulic
cylinder (5). Both ends of the cylinder piston rods are connected to steering
mechanism (not shown) which rotates steered wheels (not shown).
Steering mechanism converts the piston rod lineal movement to a turning
motion of steered wheels.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Steering control (7) rotation is monitored by an angular sensor (8). The

sensor converts the rotational input parameter to a digital output signal
(pulses) and it sends the signal to a controller (9). The controller controls
the plunger movement of the proportional valve (4) by sending voltage (or
current) signal to the solenoid. Proportional valve regulates the flow rate
which in turn determines the speed of the cylinder (5) piston rod. There is a
position sensor (6) which sends information about the actual position of the
hydraulic actuator (the lineal piston rod speed of the rod). The actual value
is fed back to the controller (9) in the form of voltage signal.
This is a closed loop circuit because the controller receives required and
actual parameters for the hydraulic cylinders movement and adjusts its
output to a pre-calculated value. The controller has digital input and output
features so that it can accept input signals from electronic sensors (6 and 8)
and send output signals to the solenoid of the proportional valve (4).
The most common angular sensor for this application is the rotary encoder.
The encoder outputs information about steering wheel rotation such as:
rotation angle, turning speed, total numbers of turns and angular
acceleration. There are two types of rotary encoders: external and internal.
An external encoder has better resolution but it requires an adapter housing
which makes it a more expensive solution. An internal encoder is built
inside a bearing. This design is more compact and provides more design
freedom for the steering wheel location.
In order to achieve smooth steering, it is important to minimize the
positional hysteresis of the proportional valve (4). Positional hysteresis
depends on friction inside the valve, magnetic hysteresis, temperature, fluid
pressure and cleanliness. To minimize the negative influence of these
factors, a high frequency noise (called dither signal) can be added to the
control signal. The dither makes the valve spool vibrate which diminishes
the valve stiction.
A proportional directional valve has a high requirement for fluid cleanliness.
When a return filter is used, for achieving maximum life of the system, it is
recommended to have a 100 to 150 micron absolute mesh suction filter and
a 10 to 15 micron absolute return filter.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Fig. 5.12 Electro-hydraulic steering system

Components (fig. 5.12)
1. Reservoir
2. Wire-mesh filter (100 m absolute)
3. Hydraulic pump
4. Proportional directional valve
5. Double-acting cylinder
6. Sensor
7. Steering wheel
8. Angular sensor (rotary encoder)
9. Programmable Controller
10. Filter (10 m absolute) with bypass check valve



Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Integrated Hydraulic System

The hydraulic system, shown in Fig. 5.13, combines the hydraulic (lift and
auxiliary) and the steering circuits in one. In this design, one common
motor, pump and reservoir are used. A load sensing valve splits the flow
giving priority to steering over load manipulating functions. The system can
have either fixed or variable displacement pump. In electric industrial truck
applications, fixed-displacement gear pumps combined with variable-speed
motor is the most popular solution. In IC engine trucks, variabledisplacement, pressure-compensated pumps are preferred because the IC
engine has a constant rotational speed. The distinguishing feature of the
integrated systems is the use of a load-sensing priority valve to split the
flow into two different circuits.
The valve senses the flow requirements and sends the required flow to the
steering branch and the rest of the flow to the other branch. When the
steering valve is turned, it pressurizes the load sensing (LS) line to the
priority valve. The pressure in the LS line shifts the plunger to provide flow
for steering. The benefit of the priority valve is that it can maintain different
working pressures in both branches.
In an integrated system with priority valves, the excess flow (that is not
needed for steering) is supplied to the second branch. When there are no
flow requirements this flow has to be bypassed to the reservoir with
minimum energy losses. There are two ways: first is to use a relief valve
with external control which keeps the valve open when flow in the second
branch is not needed (fig. 6.4 and fig.6.5) and second is to use a opencenter directional valve (fig. 5.3) where the pressure line is bypassed to the
reservoir in its neutral position.
It is a common practice for the high lift truck operator to perform two or
more functions at the same time. In this case, both branches require flow at
the same time. The sum of the required (in both branches) flow rate will be
the maximum flow of the system. Therefore, we size the pump for the
maximum flow. Although the pump is sized for the maximum flow, to save
energy, we design the system to work continuously with the flow which is
required only for steering. Maximum flow is supplied only when both
functions are simultaneously required.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Fig. 5.13 Integrated Hydraulic System

When the integrated system is for electric trucks, designing an efficient
system requires use of an electric motor and an electronic motor speed
controller. By controlling the motor speed we can change the flow rate.
There are two commonly used motor types for this application: 1) separate
exited DC motors and 2) AC motors. The simplest motor controller for the
DC motors has two different fixed speed settings. The low speed (1000 to
1500 rpm) is used continuously for steering. The high speed (2000 to 3000
rpm) is used when functions from the other branch requires flow.


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Smoothness of the Lifting

One of the most important requirements for high lift trucks is the
smoothness of the lifting process. Often, when lifting at a low speed,
vibrations in the hydraulic cylinder cause a jerky motion of the whole
elevating system. In applications when light and unstable loads have to be
lifted high, any small thrust or vibration can make the load fall down. An
example of such a load is a pallet with empty pop cans. Any excessive
shaking of the elevation system would cause this light and unstable load to
fall down from the pallet resulting in lost of production time. For carrying
and lifting loads like this, smoothness of the lifting is crucial for the entire
forklift performance. There are many factors: electrical, mechanical,
hydraulic, operator skills, which can cause jerkiness in the elevating
system. In this chapter we will describe only the hydraulic aspect of the
problem and show few ways of achieving a smooth performance of the lift
High lift systems have either single-acting telescopic or single-acting ram
type cylinders. The weight of the load and mast does the work in the
opposite direction. Ram type or telescopic cylinders are designed for
applications where long strokes are required. Both type cylinders are
described in chapter 3.9.
Performance requirements for these cylinders are:

Compact design
High work pressure (usually 25 MPa)
Operate in wide temperature range (-20 to +50 C)
Maintain static and dynamic sealing

Factors, influencing the lifting process, are:


Driving (lifting) vs. resistance forces

Pressure and flow pulsations in the cylinder inlet
Compressibility of the fluid
Dynamics of the directional valve

A. Driving vs. Resistance forces

During lifting, the lifting force ( Fd ) that drives the cylinder piston (or plunger)
acts against the resistance force ( Fr ) which consists of the friction force,

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


load reaction and the inertia of the moving parts. Moving parts are the mast,
cylinders, carriage, the load and all chains and hoses attached to the mast.
The lifting force is:

Fd = pA

A is the piston area

p is the pressure in the cylinder
is the efficiency of the cylinder

The resistance force contains three components.

Fr = FL + Fi + F f


is the Static Force of the load


is the Force of Inertia of the moving parts

with mass (m) and acceleration of the moving
parts (a).


is the Friction Force

Friction force itself has two components.

F f = Fcyl + Fmech


is the friction inside the cylinder

Fmech is the friction between the moving parts of

the elevating system
One of the reasons for jerkiness in the system is the different rate at which
the lifting force and friction forces are changing during the lifting process.
Prof. Komitovsky (Components of Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems)
explains the origin of this jerkiness in the relationship between friction force
and piston speed, Fig 5.14


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks

Fig. 5.14
In the first speed range -I-, the friction force (FT) has its highest value. In the
second range -II-, FT is almost interchangeable and has its lowest value.
Within this speed range the hydraulic cylinder has its best performance in
terms of smoothness of motion and efficiency. When piston speed is in the
third range, we observe a gradual increasing of FT but the slope of the
curve is not as sharp as at the beginning. Lets look in detail at the first
section of this graph because the most vibrations appear in this speed
After we open the directional valve, the flow starts moving the piston. When
piston speed reaches a value v1, friction force is FT1. If a pulsation from the
gear pump appears at this moment, additional kinetic energy will be added
to the fluid entering the cylinder. This momentary kinetic energy increases
the piston speed to v2, which in turn decreases the friction force to FT2.
When the speed reaches v2, the momentary energy finishes and the friction
force increases to FT1, reducing piston speed to v1. When a new pulsation
appears in the cylinder, this process will be repeated and will make the
piston speed vary between v1 and v2. This speed variation of the cylinder
piston (or plunger) causes the jerky motion of the elevating system.
There are two general ways to reduce the piston speed variation.
The first way is to minimize flow variations (increase the spring constant of
the system) by adding a hydraulic pulsation damper to the system. A
damper is a hydraulic resistance between the direction valve and the lift

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


cylinder. There are two types of damping: active and passive. Active uses a
programmable controller which uses a cylinder position feedback signal to
control the directional valve plungers movement. This method is expensive
and is not used for forklift truck applications. Passive damping uses flow
restriction to reduce pressure oscillations in the system. The most popular
and cost effective damping element is the flow restrictor. On the other hand,
its use is not energy efficient because it increases the hydraulic losses by
converting hydraulic energy into heat. Another more efficient solution is
using a pressure compensated flow control valve.
The second way to minimize the piston speed variation is to reduce the
mechanical friction between the piston and the internal cylinder surface.
The most effective way to reduce friction is to use sliding non-metal rings.
The use of non-metal sliding rings can reduce the friction force up to ten
times, which comes from the difference in the coefficient of friction, f.

f teflon 0.01 ,

f metal 0.10

The friction force is:

Fcyl = nf teflonDLp
n is the number of sliding rings, usually n = 2
D is the outside diameter of the ring
L is the width of the ring
p is the pressure in the cylinder
Two main materials are used to manufacture sliding rings- teflon based and
thermoplastic polyurethane materials. Optimal design is a combination of a
seal, a scraper and a sliding ring.
B. Pressure and flow pulsations entering the cylinder
Flow and pressure variations in the pressure hoses are important to
consider. In addition to pump induced flow pulsations, there could be shock
waves after the directional control due to opening and closing of the valve.
Pumps flow rate irregularity is:

Q =

Q Qmin
100 = max
100 _[%]


Chapter 5: Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks


Qm is the mean value.

Pressure pulsations in the discharge port are created by the gear pump.
Every time the fluid, situated between two teeth, is pushed out of the pump,
a peak in the pressure appears. Pressure waves in the discharge port are
described in Chapter 3.7 (Hydraulic Pumps).
C. Compressibility of the fluid
When calculating the hydraulic system we treat the fluid as incompressible
but in reality it is not. Compressibility is characterized by Modulus of
Elasticity (Bulk Modulus) EV. The higher EV is the stiffer and less
compressible the fluid is. Fluids which have higher Bulk Modulus absorb
less energy.
Modulus of Elasticity depends strongly on the fluid temperature because
when the temperature rises, the fluid expands creating additional pressure.
Ev decreases when temperature increases. Experimental data are shown
on Fig. 2.2, Chapter 2.
Also, there could be small amounts of air (aeration) in the fluid. Aeration
reduces the value of EV and makes the fluid more compressible. At high
pressure, the air forms bubbles. When the pressure drops air bobbles are
released causing cavitation, vibration and noise. Usually the first step in
troubleshooting a jerky cylinder motion is to bleed-off the cylinders. For this
reason, all high lift cylinders have bleed-off plugs or fittings. Some systems
have automatic air bleed valves which allow air to escape from the
hydraulic line without bringing the truck in for service.
D. Dynamics of the valve
Fluctuation of both flow speed and pressure decrease with the increase of
the internal frequency of the directional valve. Higher frequency limits the
amplitude of the relevant variables velocity and pressure. Speed
fluctuations decrease with the increase of the switching frequency of the
valve. Pressure fluctuations also decrease with the increase of the
hydraulic capacity of the cylinder. Switching time of a normal solenoid valve
is in the range of 30 to 50 ms. Servovalves have a switching frequency of
10 ms from fully open to fully closed position.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 6

Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

There are three main configurations low-lift trucks: end rider, center rider
and walk behind (fig. 6.1 and 6.2). According to the Industrial Truck
Association (ITA), low lift trucks are class 2 (code 6 only) and class 3
trucks. ITA classification is shown in Appendix A.
The main feature of the low-lift trucks is that the fork attachment (fork
frame), which is designed to carry the load, is elevated only 150 mm (about
6 inches) above the floor. Therefore, these trucks do not require cylinders
with long strokes. They are also called pallet trucks or trucks for horizontal
transportation. In addition to the load, the fork attachment can carry the
truck battery or mechanical lift mechanisms. Low-lift trucks are manual or
electric powered because they are used inside warehouses and stores.
There is no difference in the hydraulic lift system requirements between
class 2 (code 6) and class 3 low-lift trucks.
There are three types steering systems:
manual (mechanical) steering
power-assisted steering
power (hydraulic or electrical) steering
When the trucks have manual or power-assist steering, the steering control
is attached to the steered wheel (fig. 6.1 and 6.2). Trucks with powerassist
steering use hydraulic torque generator (item 9, fig. 6.2). In trucks with
hydraulic power steering, the control is detached from the wheel. These
systems use a steering valve type Orbitrol (fig. 6.3a through 6.7). Power
steering systems design and the orbitrol are described in chapter 5
(section: Hydraulic Steering Systems). Designs with torque generators are
shown in fig. 6.11 and 6.12.
The steering control can be a control arm (also called: tiller arm), steering
wheel or joystick. Lighter pallet trucks have a tiller arm mechanically
attached to one or more steered drive wheels (fig. 6.1). Heavier trucks have
electric or hydraulic power steering (fig. 6.2).


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

The hydraulic steering system can be either a separate or integrated (with

the lifting) circuit. Both types of hydraulic circuits will be described in this
book. In the past only rider type trucks had power steering. In the last few
years, driven by ergonomic reasons, manufacturers are adding power
steering to walk behind trucks as well.

Fig. 6.1 Low-lift truck with manual steering and mechanical lift mechanism.

Fig. 6.2 Low-lift truck with power-assisted steering and hydraulic lift

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Low-lift pallet trucks have four main applications:

loading/ unloading pallets from trailers
horizontal transportation of the load
low level orderpicking

Hydraulic system with independent power

steering and lift circuits
A two-circuit system that has independent power steering and lift hydraulic
circuits is shown in fig. 6.3.
Power steering is used on high-capacity trucks where large turning moment
is required to turn the steered wheel. The steering circuit is independent
and it has its own power supply. The steering valve is type Orbitrol. There is
no mechanical connection between the steering control and steered
wheels. Usually, the steering control is a wheel which makes 3 to 5
rotations from full left to a full right turn of the steered wheel. The steering
circuit is the same design as described in Chapter 5. The calculation of the
steering branch is also shown in Chapter 5.
The lifting circuit generates power only for lifting. It does not have auxiliary
functions such as side shift, tilt and attachments. The lifting circuit has few
hydraulic components and it is relatively simple. For this reason it is
constructed as a one power pack with four main components: a reservoir,
an electric motor, pump and a valve block. The valve block consists of a
manifold with hydraulic valves in it.

An advantage of systems with two circuits is that the lifting circuit can be an
off-the-shelf power unit. Almost all hydraulic valve manufacturers offer such
power units, which contain an electric motor, a hydraulic pump, a manifold
with valves and a reservoir. When selecting a power unit, we look the
combined performance of the pump and the electric motor from the
manufacturer. Lift cylinders (12) usually are single acting. They are


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

selected depending on the type of lifting mechanism and maximum load

capacity of the truck. The lifting mechanism can have one or more cylinders

Fig. 6.3 a) steering circuit;


Electric motor
Hydraulic pump
Check valve
Relief valve

b) lift circuit
7. Steering valve, type Orbitrol
8. Hydraulic motor
9. Gear
10. Flow control
11. Directional valve
12. Lift cylinders

Disadvantages of two circuits system are:

Two circuits require two tanks, two electric motors and two
hydraulic pumps which take up more space.
Cost of the system is higher because more components are

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The steering circuit for low-lift trucks with a capacity below 3,000 kg is a low
pressure system- up to 5 MPa (50 bars) and for trucks with capacity above
3,000 kg it is a medium pressure system- from 5 to 15 MPa (50 150 bars).
The lifting circuit always has a normal high pressure from 15 to 25 MPa
(150 250 bars).

Integrated Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift

An Integrated System (Fig.6.4) is a system designed to support both
steering and lifting functions. This design has two branches. Both branches
have common motor, pump and reservoir.
An integrated system which uses a load sensing priority valve (LSPV), item
4, as a flow divider is described below. LSPV can be:

In-line type- the valve is built as a separate unit. It can be placed

anywhere on the truck.
Cartridge type- screwed into a manifold and combined with other
hydraulic components into one power pack.
Modular type (direct mounting)- assembled to the steering valve
(Orbitrol) or the pump

A hydraulic system with in-line priority valve is shown in Fig. 6.4.


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

Fig. 6.4 Integrated Hydraulic System


Suction filter with check valve
Load sensing priority valve (LSPV)
Lift power pack
Lift cylinders
Steering valve, type Orbitrol with LS feedback
Steering control
Hydraulic motor

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Principle of operation (fig 6.4)

A priority valve (4) is used in systems with two or more loops. One of the
circuits needs to have a controlled flow rate regardless of load pressure
changes. The valve has one inlet and two outlets. The outlet which supplies
the controlled flow is marked as CF (controlled flow). The excess flow (EF)
is delivered from the second outlet. The important characteristic of the
priority valve (4) is that it can maintain different pressures at its outlets.
Relief valves, installed in each circuit, limit the maximum pressure in the
branch. In this system, the relief valve in the lift circuit is built into an
assembly (5) and the steering relief valve is built into the steering valve (8).
The relief valve in the lift circuit also has an external electric control which
can keep the valve open when the solenoid is energized. The valve is kept
open when there is no request for lifting. This way, it is used as a bypass
valve. It allows the excess flow, not used for the steering, to go to the
reservoir. When lifting is requested, the valve solenoid is de-energized and
the valve closes. Then, it functions as relief valve to protect the system.
One of the biggest restrictions for class 3 trucks is the small available
space. The most space effective solution is when the priority valve is a
cartridge type built into a hydraulic power unit (fig. 6.5). Such power unit
contains: hydraulic manifold with cartridge valves, a reservoir, a pump and
an electric motor.

Fig. 6.5 Priority valve built into a hydraulic power unit.


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

Class 3 trucks usually have a fixed-displacement gear pump (3) and an

electric pump motor (7). The motor (7) can be either constant-speed or
variable-speed motor. Variable-speed motors are controlled by electronic
controller. Systems with controllers are more energy efficient when variable
flow rates are desired. The rotational motor speed matches the flow rate
requirements of the system. When lifting is not required, the electric motor
rotates at a low speed and supply a lower flow rate to support only the
steering. When lifting is needed, the controller increases the motor speed,
which results in a higher pump flow rate which is needed to support both:
steering and lifting.
System with constant speed motor (fig. 6.6)

Fig. 6.6 Hydraulic system with dual pumps and a priority valve

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


In some cases the cost of the electronic controller is too high and it is more
cost efficient to connect the electric motor directly to a battery. Then, the
motor will have only a high speed and it will deliver the maximum flow at all
times. When only steering is required, a lot of the power will be wasted. For
this reason, when a one-speed motor and a fixed-displacement pump are
used, energy efficiency can be achieved by using a dual pump (3) to split
the flow. Both pumps work continuously but only the flow from one will
circulate through the system to support steering. The flow from the second
pump is used only when a lift is requested. If these is no lift request, the
flow is bypassed through a valve (8) and returned to the reservoir (1). When
more flow is needed for lifting, the directional valve (8) switches and redirects the flow to the priority valve (4).

Integrated hydraulic system with accumulator

An integrated hydraulic system with accumulator is shown in fig. 6.7.
In addition to the pump, this design uses an accumulator as a source of
energy for the steering. The accumulator first stores energy then supplies it
back to the system when needed. This circuit allows turning off the motor
when the accumulator supplies the energy. Using accumulator makes the
system more energy efficient. The accumulator sizing is shown in example
1 and the energy saving is shown in example 2.
This design is feasible only for low-lift trucks because of the short lifting
time (3 to 5 seconds) and the fact that the steering and lifting are rarely
used simultaneously. Steering control is connected to a steering valve type
Orbitrol (10). The valve and the control are detached from the steered
wheel (not shown).


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

Fig. 6.7 Integrated hydraulic system with accumulator and an intermittently

working pump
Principle of operation of the system in Fig. 6.7
The integrated system shown on Fig. 6.7 has different pressure
requirements in both branches (for example: 14 MPa for steering and 24
MPa for lifting). A pressure switch, 8, set at 14 MPa, will limit the pressure
in the steering branch. There is also a second relief valve (at 14.5 MPa
crack pressure) which is built into the orbitrol, 10. The purpose of the
second relief valve is to protect the steering branch in case of a pressure
switch failure. A relief valve (5) (set at 25 MPa) limits the maximum
pressure in the lifting branch.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


When the operator steps on the dead-man pedal, the parking brake is
released and the motor (7) is turned on. Then, the pump (3) starts to supply
flow to the system. If the accumulator (9) is empty, it will take a few
seconds to fill up. If there is a steering request before the filter is filled up,
the flow from the pump will go to both the orbitrol (10) and the accumulator
(9). As soon as the accumulator (9) is fully charged and the pressure
reaches a pre-set value, the pressure switch (8) is activated and it turns off
the electric motor. From this moment, the accumulator will supply the oil
flow for the steering. When the accumulator is discharged to a pre-set
minimum, the pressure will drop and the pressure switch (8) will turn on the
electric motor.
As mentioned above, steering and lift functions are rarely used
simultaneously therefore this design does require a variable speed motor.
Pump flow rate is selected to be a little more than the maximum required for
steering. This way even during steering, there will be extra flow for charging
the accumulator.

Example 1
Selecting an accumulator for the system shown in fig 6.7
Given (Engineering Specifications):

Steering valve (orbitrol) displacement = 80 cm3 per revolution

Steering wheel turns = 4 revolutions for 180 turn from full left to full
right position (2 rev. for 90turn)
Pump flow rate: Q = 6 (l/min)
Maximum pressure (relief valve settings): pmax = 14 MPa
Minimum pressure: pmin = 10 MPa
Accumulator must be able to supply the steering valve for a period of
time equal or more than the lift time (4 seconds)

Calculate accumulator volume

If there is lifting and steering at the same time: for lifting time of 4 sec, we
have 4 revolutions of the steering wheel (angular velocity n = 1 rev/s). So,
the volume demanded by the orbitrol will be:


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

V = (dS)(revolutions)
V = (80)(4) = 320 m3
Where: V = V3 V2 is the difference in the volume of a fully charged
accumulator V3 (maximum pressure) and uncharged accumulator V2
(minimum pressure).
Then, the size of the accumulator, V1, is calculated by using formula 3.13

V1 = V



1/ n

1 3

1/ n

1 / 1.4


= 320 1 / 1.4 = 1615 [cm3]

p2 = 14 MPa is the maximum pressure in the steering circuit (fully
loaded accumulator);
p3 = 10 MPa is the minimum pressure in the system;
p1 = 0.9 p3 = 9 MPa is the pressure in the bladder when the
accumulator is no loaded.
Based on the above calculation we are choosing a standard size of 2000

Example 2
Calculate the energy saving
Calculate how much time the motor has to work in order to support the
steering during one work shift. Assume that one work shift consists of 400
TWC (truck work cycles).
An example of TWC is shown in fig. 6.8. In one TWC, the truck goes from
the load/unload area to the trailer (forks first), takes the load and drives
back (tractor first). The truck will make six turns (three in each direction).

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Fig. 6.8 Steering duty cycle that requires three 90 turns in each direction
It is known that one 90 turn requires two steering revolution. One (TWC)
has six 90 turns = 12 steering wheel revolutions per truck work cycle or n1
=12 rev
It is estimated that in an 8-hour work shift an average operator makes a
maximum of 200 TWC (N = 200 cycles). Therefore, the total number of
steering wheel revolutions per 8-hour work shift is:

nT = n N = 200 12 = 2400 rev

We are going to use 2000 cm3 accumulator (selected in example 1).
The usable volume V will be:



V := V .1



V = 396 cm3


The steering revolutions (nA) per one accumulator charge with the chosen
2000 m3 accumulator will be:
nA = V / ds = 2000/80 = 5


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

where: ds = 80 cm3/rev is the orbitrol displacement

The number of accumulator charges per 8-hour shift (200 TWC) will be:
Nc = nT / nA =2400 / 5 = 480 charges
Charging time (t) for one accumulator charge is:
t = V/ QP = 4 sec,

where: QP = 6 l/min is the pump flow rate

So, the total charging time per 8-hour work shift will be:
T = t x Nc = 4 x 480 = 1920 seconds = 32 minutes
Therefore the electric motor will work only 32 minutes to support the
steering. In systems without accumulator this time is about 7 hours because
the electric motor runs continuously regardless whether steering is required
or not.

Hydraulic system for pallet trucks with long

fork attachments
As described earlier, pallet trucks are used to lift and carry pallets. The fork
attachment moves up and down relative to the tractor. Long forks are
designed to transport three or four grocery pallets at the same time. Four
pallets (in line) require forks that are 4880 mm (192 inches) long and have
up to 4500 kg (10,000 lb) load capacity. Such forks must have high strength
and little deflection. The strength calculations of such fork are the same as
of a structural beam. The strength requirements are achieved by designing
a beam with high section modulus. The section modulus is the ratio of the
cross-section second moment of area to the distance of the surface to the
neutral axis. The most effective way to increase the fork section modulus is
to remove the mechanical lift links (push/pull rods) from the fork cavity and
design the fork profile as a closed rectangular tube with reinforcing bars
In addition to having high strength, the fork attachment is requirement to
move up and down parallel to the floor surface during lift and lower.
Short attachments have a linkage mechanism for pivoting the load wheels
downward when the forks are raised.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


For long attachments such design is not efficient because of the increased
cost and lack of space needed for the links. Also, the mechanical links have
to be different for each fork length. To eliminate these downsides, pallet
trucks with long forks have hydraulic cylinders pivoting the load wheel
downward. Such hydraulic lift system is shown in fig. 6.2 (component
layout) and in fig. 6.9 (schematics).
The system shown in fig. 6.9 has two main cylinders (5a and 5b) mounted
on the tractor and two slave cylinders (6a and 6b) mounted within the fork
profile and attached to the load wheels.

Fig. 6.9


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

Lifting (Fig. 6.2, 6.9 and 6.10)

The main cylinders (5a and 5b) lift the fork assembly at one end while the
slave cylinders (6a and 6b) lift the forks at the other end (see fig. 6.2).
When the main cylinders extend, the upward movement of the fork is equal
to the main cylinder stroke. Main cylinders are connected by hard
mechanical link so that, they will always move together (they will have
same strokes). Although both load wheels are mounted in separate forks,
they are hydraulically linked to the main cylinders therefore they also work
in tandem. When one of the load wheels hit a barrier, which stops the wheel
movement, the other wheel will also stop. Cylinders (6a and 6b) are called
slave because their stroke depends on the amount of flow coming from
cylinders (5a and 5b). One end of each slave cylinder (the cylinder body) is
pivoted to the fork frame while the other end (piston rod side) is attached to
a link containing the load wheels (fig. 6.2 and 6.10). When a slave cylinder
extends, the link rotates and the load wheel is pushed against the floor
which in turn lifts the front end of the fork (fig. 6.10).
The weight of a battery or/and the fork frame (when the battery in mounted
on the tractor) is used to lower the forks. Directional valve (7) is energized
to direct the flow to the reservoir. Lowering speed is controlled by a flow
regulator (8). Because of the short strokes, non-proportional flow regulators
are used.



Fig. 6.10 (only 5a and 6a cylinders are shown for clarity)

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The relationship between cylinder areas and cylinder strokes is:

A1 Y
A2 X



is the rod area of the main cylinder


is the piston area of the slave cylinder

is the main cylinder stroke

is the slave cylinder stroke

Hydraulic Power-Assisted Steering

Class 3 pallet trucks usually have one steered drive unit. The drive unit
contains a drive motor, a gear box and a drive wheel. In most trucks, the
steering control is a tiller arm. Power-assisted systems use a hydraulic
actuator which links the steering control to the drive unit. Three common
designs are shown in fig. 6.11. All three have hydraulic torque generator as
an actuator.

tiller arm control and drive unit with horizontal motor (6.11a)
tiller arm control and drive unit with vertical motor (6.11b)
steering control with steering ratio rs 1 (6.11c)

a) steering ratio rs = 1
Fig. 6.11

b) steering ratio rs = 1

c) steering ratio rs1


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks


Hydraulic torque generator

Steering control (tiller arm or steering wheel)
Steered drive unit
Drive motor
Steered drive wheel

Steering ratio (rs) is defined as:

rs = Nc / Nw,


Nc is the number of revolution of the steering control
Nw is the number of revolution of the steered wheel
Steering ratio equal to one (rs = 1) means that the control (2) and the
steered wheel (6) rotate at the same time and at the same angles.
The hydraulic torque generator is activated mechanically by a steering
control. The rotation from the control (2) to the steered drive unit (3) is
transmitted through the input and output shafts of the torque generator (1).
Both shafts are mechanically linked inside the generator. The steering
control (2) is connected to the input shaft while the steered unit is
connected the output shaft. Connection to the shafts can be direct (6.11a)
or indirect by gear sets (6.11b and 6.11c). When both gear sets have the
same gear ration (6.11b), the design has a steering ratio equal to one (rs =
1). By changing the gear ratio, different steering ratios can be achieved.
The biggest advantage of using a hydraulic power steering over an electric
steering is that the truck does not lose steering if a failure in the power
system occurs. If there is no supply of pressurized fluid to port P, only
manual steering will be available. Manual steering will be more difficult but
will ensure control over the truck.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Integrated Hydraulic System with PowerAssisted Steering

An integrated system, shown in fig. 6.12, has two circuits: a power-assisted
steering and a lift. This arrangement is used on class 3 pallet trucks where
the steering control (6) and the steered drive unit (9) must have the same
turning angles (rs = 1).

Fig. 6.12

Motor, electric
Priority valve with LS port
Relief valve
Tiller arm
Gear, ring
Torque generator with LS port

9. Steered drive unit

10. Reservoir
11. Filter with check valve
12. Relief valve
13. Directional valve
14. Flow regulator
15. Lift cylinders


Chapter 6: Hydraulic Systems for Low Lift Trucks

Principle of operation (fig. 6.12)

Class 3 trucks usually have a fixed-displacement gear pump (1). The
electric motor (2) can be either a constant speed DC or a variable speed
Power steering is achieved by the torque generator (8) which converts
hydraulic energy into mechanical torque on the output shaft. The generator
has the input and output shafts and two hydraulic ports: inlet (P-port) which
is connected to the pump, the outlet (T-port) which is connected to the
reservoir and two mechanical shafts (input and output). Turning of the input
shaft performs two functions: first, it transmits torque to the output shaft and
second, it allows pressurized fluid from the pump to flow into "P" port. The
pressurized fluid transmits additional torque to the output before going out
through "T" port and returning to the tank.
The torque generator has a load sensing (LS) port connected to a priority
valve (3). When the torque generator is rotated, the LS port is pressurized.
LS pressure acts on valve (3) and shift it to supply the steering branch with
fluid proportional to the LS pressure.
A load sensing priority valve (3) senses the flow requirements and supplies
the required flow to the steering branch with priority. Priority valves are
described in details in chapter 3.6 (Directional control valves).
The directional valve (13) has three positions. The left and right positions
are for lift and lower. The middle (neutral) position is open-to-tank. This
way, when steering and lifting are not required, the directional valve (13)
allows all flow to go to the reservoir. Thus, the system will not be
pressurized when it is not needed.
The flow regulator (14) has a parallel connected check valve. When lifting,
fluid passes through the check valve. During lowering, the flow passes
though the flow regulator.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 7

Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

Boom-type reach vehicles are used mainly for off-road outdoor material
handling on unfinished or uneven terrains. These trucks are class 7
according to ITA classification (see Appendix A). A typical truck
arrangement is shown in Fig. 7.1. A class 7 truck has a telescopic lifting
arm (2) one end of which is pivotally mounted to the truck (1) and is
supported by a hydraulic cylinder (3). The other end is extendable and it
has a hydraulically driven attachment. The telescopic arm (also called a
boom) can have one or more extensions. Each extension is operated by a
hydraulic actuator. There is an attachment mounted at the end of the inner
extension. The attachment can either be a carriage with a pair of forks (6)
or a lifting mast (not shown) for multi-directional handling. The fork carriage
is pivotally mounted so that it can be tilted, extended or retracted relative to
the boom arm. A tilt cylinder (5) is placed inside the inner boom. When the
fork attachment is a mast type (not shown), the mast provides a vertical fork
carriage movement without extending the boom. It can also have a side
shift or a tilt function for the fork.


Fig. 7.1 Boom-type vehicle with a fork carriage at the end.


Chapter 7: Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

The boom arm is pivoted at the rear side of the truck. It moves up or down
using the hydraulic cylinder (3). One end of the cylinder is attached to the
vehicle chassis and the other to the boom. Another hydraulic cylinder (4)
extends and retracts the boom. Cylinder (4) can be placed inside or outside
on the outer telescopic arm.
Examples of hydraulic circuits for lift mast fork attachments were shown in
chapter 5 (Hydraulic Systems for High Lift Trucks). In this chapter, we are
going to describe only hydraulic circuits for boom manipulation.

Hydraulic circuit for boom lift, extend and fork

The main difference between a boom type truck and an in-door lift truck is
the work duty cycle of the material handling. A truck with a boom is
designed to move while carrying the load high in the air. When the truck
moves, the load jumps on the forks and causes oscillation of the boom and
the chassis. This oscillation can create an overloading condition which will
have a negative effect on the truck stability. Also, the load oscillation
interferes with the vehicle control, adds stress to the chassis and causes
the truck body to deflect. Overloading is determined on the basis of 1)
magnitude of the load and 2) length of the extension arm. Such conditions
can be prevented by limiting engine power and acceleration. In addition to
reducing engine performance, dumping the vibrations, created by the
bouncing load, is achieved by connecting an accumulator to either the lifting
or lowering side of the cylinder.
Overloading can be monitored by sensing the pressure in the lift cylinder.
Cylinder pressure will increase proportional to the load and arm length due
to changes in the lever conditions. The sensing is obtained by pressure
An example of a hydraulic system for a material handling vehicle with a
telescopic arm is shown in Fig. 7.2.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Engineering Requirements for this system are:

Pivoted outer boom section

At least one extendable inner section
Each section to be operated by a dedicated hydraulic cylinder
Boom cannot be lowered uncontrollably
Boom to be protected against lowering in case of a broken hydraulic
Vibration absorber when riding with the load up position.

Fig. 7.2

Hydraulic lift & lower circuit for telescopic

boom arm
The lift arm (boom) is almost horizontal at its low position. One end is
pivoted to the chassis while the other end is lifted by a hydraulic cylinder.
There are different circuit designs for boom lifting. Most of them use an
accumulator as a vibrations dumper. Two examples of hydraulic circuits
showing boom lifting and lowering are shown in Fig. 7.3 and Fig. 7.4.


Chapter 7: Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

Fig. 7.3 Hydraulic circuit for lifting and lowering a boom-type arm
1. Reservoir assembly
2. Hydraulic pump
3. Motor/ IC engine
4. Flexible line
5. Pressure relief valve
6. Directional control valve
7. Directional valve with a check valve
8. Directional valve
9. Accumulator
10. Double-acting cylinder (item 6 in fig. 7.1)
11. Load

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Description of the components

Reservoir assembly (1) consists of a reservoir with a breather and a
suction filter, with bypass check valve, placed inside the reservoir. Most
boom-type vehicles have IC engine. The reservoir of these vehicles has to
be insulated from the IC engine because the engine is an undesirable heat
source. Usually the IC engine and the reservoir are placed in separate
Hydraulic pump (2) is usually a gear pump which is mounted on the drive
shaft of the IC engine.
IC Engine (3) can use diesel, petrol or propane fuel.
Flexible lines (4) are an essential part of the system. They are required in
order to allow boom pivoting movements and to transport fluid in the most
efficient way. Hydraulic lines are sized and selected on the basis of the
maximum flow velocity and pressure. Tube and hose selection is described
in chapter 3.14.
Pressure relief (5) valve is required to protect the hydraulic system from
Directional control (6) valve is a three position two directional type valve.
The first position is for lifting, the second position is neutral and the third
position is for lowering. The directional valve can be operated manually,
hydraulically or electrically. An electrically controlled valve is shown in this
design. When there is no input signal to the solenoids, springs at both ends
hold the valve in its neutral position.
Directional valve (7) is a two-way, two-position discrete valve. It has a
check valve in position 1 and an orifice in position 2.
Directional valve (8) is a proportional two-way, three position valve.
Accumulator (9) is connected to the lift cylinder immediately before the
cylinder port. This way we eliminate the need for a flexible hose which in


Chapter 7: Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

turn minimizes the risk from breaking the connection. In most cases, metal
tubing is used to connect the accumulator to the cylinder.
Double-acting cylinder (10) is connected pivotally to the truck body on
one side and to the boom on the other side. A single-acting cylinder can
also be used.
Load (11) consists of the weight of the boom, the boom attachments and
the maximum payload.
Description of the hydraulic circuit operation
During lifting: the directional valve (6) is in position 1, valve (7) is deenergized and it has the check valve section connected to the line allowing
oil flow to the cylinder.
During lowering: the direction valve (6) is in position 3 and valve (7) is in
position 2 forcing the fluid through an orifice in order to create a back
pressure and smooth the lowering.
During lifting or lowering, valve (8) is not energized and the spring force
keeps the valve in closed position. Then, the accumulator (9) is
disconnected from the system because the built-in check valve does not
allowing flow to the accumulator.
During transportation (with or without a load): the control valve (6) is
switched to the neutral position, valve (7) is switched to position 1
preventing flow to the reservoir and valve (8) goes to position 3 connecting
the accumulator to the lift arm support cylinder. Now, the pressure in the
accumulator (9) will support the weight of the boom and will act as a
vibrations dumper. When the load bounces, it forces the fluid from the
hydraulic cylinder into and out of the accumulator. It is necessary for the
accumulator to have the same pressure as the lifting side of the cylinder at
the time it is connected to the system. To avoid pressure spikes, valve (8) is
constructed as a proportional type. The valve solenoid is energized
proportionally and it moves the plunger from position 1 to position 3 while
going through the orifice (position 2). Switching at a slow rate allows the
system to equalize the pressure before the valve is fully open. If the
pressure in the accumulator is lower, a sudden lowering of the boom may
occur. To avoid this effect, a small size accumulator is preferred for this

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Hydraulic circuit for boom arm with an

automatic shut-off valve

Fig. 7.4 Hydraulic circuit (with an automatic shut-off valve) for lifting and
lowering a boom
1. Reservoir assembly
2. Hydraulic pump

7. Check valve

3. Motor

8. Directional valve, proportional

4. Relief valve- main

9. Accumulator

5. Relief valve

10. Cylinders

6. Directional valve

11. Load


Chapter 7: Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

A hydraulic circuit with an accumulator and an automatic shut-off valve is

shown in Fig. 7.4. The automatic shut-off valve consists of a pressure relief
valve (5) and a check valve (7). The relief valve has two control lines
connected to both sides of the cylinder. One line is connected to the
lowering side and the other to the lifting side of the cylinder. During lifting
(control valve 6 is in position 1), the spring maintains valve (5) in a closed
position and the fluid goes through the check valve (7). During lowering
(control valve 6 is in position 3), the check valve is closed. Pressure opens
the relief valve (5) and the fluid passes through the valve to the reservoir.
Relief valve (5) controls the lowering speed of the cylinder (10). When the
pressure under the piston increases, it reduces valve (5) opening which
slows down piston movement. During transportation with load, the control
valve (6) is in neutral (position 2), valve (8) opens and connects the
accumulator to the cylinder.

High-speed extension of telescopic boom

Productivity of the truck increases when the time of a loading/unloading
cycle is reduced. Faster extension of the boom is one way to increase truck
productivity. A hydraulic circuit for high-speed boom extension is shown in
fig. 7.5. The hydraulic actuator, extending the boom, is a double-acting
cylinder (4) shown in fig. 7.1 and fig 7.5. The cylinder speed is load
Design Requirements:

Fast extension, when the boom is unloaded.

Slow extension, when the boom is loaded.

Principle of operation
Directional valve (1) has three positions. Position 2 is neutral. When the
valve is in position 1, the cylinder extends and lifts the boom. When it is in
position 3, the cylinder retracts.
When the cylinder (4) is extending an unloaded boom, the pressure under
the piston will be low and the relief valve (6) will be closed. Then, the return

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


flow (Q1) will pass through check valves (5) and join the flow from the pump
(Qp). Combined flow (Q1 + Qp) will go through the check valve (3) to the
cylinder (4). When the boom is loaded, the pressure under the piston
increases and the valve (6) opens. Then the return flow from the cylinder
will go through the valve (6) to the reservoir (T).
During cylinder retraction, the flow from the pump goes through the check
valve (7) and enters the piston rod side of the cylinder. The return flow
passes through the pressure-compensated flow regulator (2). The flow
regulator (2) will maintain a constant lowering speed regardless of the load.

Fig. 7.5
The extension speed of an unloaded boom is:

E =

QP + Q1 m



Chapter 7: Hydraulic Systems for Boom-Type Trucks

Qp [m3/s]

is flow rate coming from the pump

Q1 = A2 E

is flow rate coming from the cylinder

A1 =
A2 =

D 2

[m ]

(D 2 d 2 )

is the larger piston area

[m ]

is the cylinder rod side piston area

After we replace Q1 in equation 7.1, the extension speed can be express


E =

A1 A2 s


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Chapter 8

Selected Topics

Servicing Hydraulic Systems

In the last few years, the service sector has grown rapidly as more services
are offered by manufacturers and companies are focusing more on the
quality of the service. High quality service leads to customer perception of a
high quality product, which results in higher customer satisfaction and more
orders. The American Management Association has estimated that
companies lose as many as 25 percent of their customers each year
because of poor customer service. Also, service is a very big revenue
generator because it has higher turnover rate and higher profit margins
than the original equipment. Studies show that having loyal, long-time
customers can increase profitability by 100 percent even without increasing
the market share. For these reasons, all organizations have service
departments with trained professionals whose main objection is achieving
maximum customer satisfaction.
Service is an activity that does not create a new product. Its main function
is to repair, maintain or increase the life of the existing equipment.
For hydraulic systems, service means: 1) monitoring the system
parameters within pre-defined limits; 2) repairing and replacing failed
components and 3) preventive maintenance such as filter and fluid change.
Three service requirements must be met in order to achieve a service
Efficient - repairs done correctly the first time.
Effective - repaired or replaced parts to last a satisfactory length of
Economical - quick and cost efficient repairs.
Service excellence can only be achieved on the basis of good designs for
service and clear service procedures.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Troubleshooting principles
In order to perform effective troubleshooting, a number of hydraulic
principles must be known and followed. These principles are:

Hydraulic pumps create flow - not pressure

Resistance to flow creates pressure

Flow rate determines actuator speed

Pressure determines actuator force

Fluid under pressure takes the path of least resistance

Fluid movement from one place to another always results in

pressure drop (pressure loss) and heat generation

System life
As mentioned in the introduction of this book, one of the aspects of a good
system design is: design for service and inspection. The main goal of this
approach is to increase the overall life of the system and maintain a high
efficiency throughout its life cycle.
The expected life of individual components within a hydraulic system varies
and is influenced by a number of factors. These factors include the type
and construction of the component, circuit design, operating load and dutycycle. Forklift manufacturers determine the expected service life of
components within a particular system by considering these variables in
combination with historical data on achieved service life. Component life is
normally available from the manufacturers upon request. This information is
typically provided to long-term customers who have their own service
departments. To minimize the chances of hydraulic components failing
during service, the system manufacturers recommend expected service life.
The service life is used for scheduling component replacements.
All system components (valves, pumps, hydraulic lines) are flushed in order
to have a certain cleanliness level. But regardless this fact, in the first hours
after start up, the components continue to release small particles. In order
to protect the system from the initial contamination, it is recommended the
first filter change be done after 50 hour of operation.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Safety Rules

Disconnect the power source (electrical and /or IC engine) before

servicing any component.
Lower or support moving parts before disconnecting any component.
Put all controls in neutral position to release system pressure.
Personal protection- ware safety glasses, safety shoes and proper
work uniform.

Servicing the fluid

Theoretically the new fluid is considered clean but in reality it is
contaminated to some degree during transportation and installation. Most
fluid contamination during service is from dirt, water or abrasive particles
(metal or sand) entering the fluid. Metal particles not only increase the
components wear but they are also activate catalysts in oxidation reactions.
The most common particles are: iron, copper, tin, aluminum, zinc and lead.
Dirt and the micro-glass filters are the main sources of silicon.
It is very difficult to determine the optimal fluid change period. It is generally
accepted that if the hydraulic system works well, the fluid can last up to two
years. However, when the truck works at extremely cold or very humid
environment this period can be as little as six months. In general, the fluid
change is always done in two cases.
After every failure
When a hydraulic component fails, metallic particles from this component
are dumped into the hydraulic fluid. Therefore, the hydraulic fluid has to be
changed at the same time as the failed component is changed.
Scheduled change
Periodic fluid change is a preventive maintenance activity. It is a part of the
hydraulic system long-term reliability recommendations. As described in
Chapter 3, the change period should be determined on the basis of the
statistical data of the contamination rate. This period can be different for the
same systems that work in different environments. Regardless of how good
the statistical data is, the fluid has to be inspected regularly for the
presence of sludge. Sludge (mud) in hydraulic oil can significantly reduce
the service life of the oil. One percent sludge in inhibited hydraulic oil
reduces the service life by nearly 40%.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Collecting fluid samples

The best fluid samples are taken when the machine is running and the fluid
is at operating temperature. It is recommended to take samples
downstream of the hydraulic components and before the filter.
If the samples are taken from the reservoir, take them from the mid level
before the suction pipe.
One oil sample shows the picture at a given moment of time. If we want to
see the rate of change of a components wear, we have to monitor the oil
over a period of time. It is known that all oil becomes darker over time
because of oxidation. The important characteristic to record and understand
is the rate of oxidation.
Fluid tests
RPVOT test (per ASTM D2272)
RPVOT (Rotating Pressure Vessel Oxidation Test) is a test that determines
the oxidation stability of the oil. RPVOT measures the actual resistance to
oil oxidation. Results from the test are compared to the test results of the
new oil. The new oil base line can be used to convert RPVOT readings to
remaining useful life (RUL) as a percentage of the new oil life (100%).
Typically the caution limit is at 40% RUL and the critical limit is at 25% RUL,
but this varies by application. This test is recommended for large fluid
volumes that have long change periods and severe-duty applications.
FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) test
FTIR can detect chemicals and oxidants. Data is collected and converted
from an interference pattern to a spectrum which allows this test to be
Acid number test
This tests method is standardized in ASTM D 3339. It covers the
determination of acidic constituents in petroleum-based products and
Viscosity test
The manufacturers usually specify the kinematic viscosity. When viscosity
of the fluid is measured with a viscometer, two measurements are
recommended: one at room temperature and one at operating temperature.
Then, we compare the data to the manufacturers spec. The new fluid can
vary within certain limits due to density change (see Appendix C). Fluid
degradation, oxidation, contamination and other events cause the change
in density. When fluid viscosity is reduced 20% or more, the fluid has to be
replaced with new fluid.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


TAN (Total Acid Number) measures the level of acid and acid-products
present in the oil.
KV (Kinematic Viscosity) is a measure of oil thickness. Viscosity is
considered abnormal when it has decreased by 10% or increased by 20%
of the base line value.
AF (Analytical Ferrography) is a method for visual observation of lubricant
degradation. When a lubricant works beyond its carrying capacity, friction
polymers are observed. When a lubricant is degraded, amorphous films are

Consequences of high fluid temperature

When the temperature of the fluid increases, its viscosity decreases.
Certain levels of viscosity are required to lubricate the internal surfaces of
the components by creating an oil film between them. If the viscosity is very
low this oil film is too thin and friction between these surfaces may occur.
Fluid temperature above 82C (180F) damages the seals and reduces the
life of the fluid.
A pressure relief valve should be set at higher pressure than the working
pressure in the system. Using the relief valve to control the working
pressure increases the pressure losses in the system and creates heat.
When the hydraulic system starts to overheat, it has to be shut down. Then
we troubleshoot to find the problem and fix it. Running a hydraulic system
with fluid temperature above 82C is not recommended because it
damages the components. It is similar to operating an IC engine at overheating conditions.
Hydraulic fluids should not be stored above 60C or below freezing


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Servicing filters
Pressure drop in the filter
When the filter pressure drop is measured, the fluid has to be at the
operating temperature. At the operating temperature, hydraulic fluids have
a lower viscosity than when they are cold. Pressure drop depends on the
exact temperature and the viscosity index of the oil. In addition, most filters
have bypass valves that are viscosity sensitive. Therefore, during a cold
start or other cold operating temperature conditions, some of the flow
passes through the filter through a bypass check valve. The fluid that goes
through the valve is not filtered at this time. As the oil heats up, a higher
percentage of the flow will pass through the filter. During bypass, a welldesigned filter will not permit particles from being pulled off the front side of
the filter.

Servicing reservoirs
The first requirement for having a clean reservoir is proper packaging and
capping all ports to prevent contamination from entering the reservoir
during storage.
Regular reservoir service includes: fluid level check, moisture check and
airflow around the reservoir check.
The water in the system comes from humid air entering the reservoir
through the breather. The temperature changes cause humidity to
condensate into water droplets on the inside reservoir walls. Moisture in the
reservoir forms rust on the inside metal walls. Vibrations, during operation
of the system, knock the rust particles into the oil, where they are picked up
by the pump and distributed throughout the system. New rust particles form
where the old ones fell off which makes the contamination an endless
process. Changing filters and off-line filtration are not solutions to the
problem. Flushing or replacing the reservoir is sometimes the most costeffective solution. When the reservoir is flushed, a turbulent flow is required
for more effective cleaning.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Servicing rotary pumps and motors

The pump is considered the heart of the hydraulic system. All rotary pumps
can work as motors and vise versa. The main differences between pumps
and motors are the seal design and construction. Each gear pump has a
direction of rotation shown on the body. The rotational direction of a gear
pump can be reversed. The basic steps to reverse a gear pump rotation
are: 1) disassemble the pump, 2) flip over the wear plate, trust plate and the
seal and 3) assemble the pump.
When a pump is installed above fluid level, it is recommended its inlet port
to be at the bottom. If the pump has a built-in air bleeder, it has to be
connected to the reservoir below the minimum fluid level.
Before the first start-up of the system there are a few procedures to be
1. Pump mounting bolts have to be tightened per the manufacturers
2. Inlet and outlet fittings have to be properly installed.
3. Never start up a dry pump. Pump case has to be filled out with fluid
before the start.
4. After pump is installed, run the system for 2 to 4 minutes unloaded
before pressurizing and then increase the pressure gradually.
Pump is the first component to be inspected when the hydraulic system
does not perform as designed. There are a few standard checks:
1. Visual inspection for leaks through the seals or through cracks in the
pump body.
2. Inspect the connection (coupling or spline) between the pump and
the motor.
3. Inspect for bad bearings (bushings).
4. Check pumps temperature.
5. Measure pumps volumetric efficiency. Use a flow-meter to measure
the flow at the pump output when the pump is loaded. Volumetric
efficiency is the ratio of the measured output flow divided into the
theoretical output flow. If the theoretical flow is not known, it can be
obtained (approximately) by measuring the pump output flow when
the pump is not loaded. When a pump wears, the slip in the pump
increases resulting in decrease of volumetric efficiency.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

More than 90% of hydraulic pump failures can be attributed to the three
common causes listed below:
Mechanical: broken shaft, broken gear or cracked housing
Worn-out pump: worn-out pump has a high leakage path which
results in pressure losses.
Wrong fluid type: the fluid must be selected per outside temperature
conditions. Using a wrong type can cause premature pump failure.

Servicing hydraulic cylinders

Cylinders have to be visually inspected every time when the truck is
serviced. The visual inspection without removing the cylinder includes:
check for leaks, bent piston rods, broken welds and check pivot shafts or
Cylinder failures:
Leaking cylinders is the most common failure. Leaks can be internal or
external. There are two main failures: seal damage or mechanical failure.
Seals damage can be caused by a contamination (external or internal),
mechanical damage to the piston rod (surface finish or straightness) or
improper seal selection.
New cylinder must be inspected for leaks. The leak test consists of five

Set up
Pressurize to maximum pressure
Hold the pressure for 1 to 2 minutes
Check for leaks

When a cylinder leaks after being used, each part has to be checked in
order to find the cause of the problem. There are a few basic steps in the
troubleshooting sequence:

Remove cylinder from the truck

Visual observation of the cylinders outside surfaces.
Disassemble cylinder
Visual observation of all components and inside surfaces

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Piston and cylinder seals

Piston rod and cylinder polished surfaces
Check seal grooves for burrs and notches
5. Measure the piston rod straightness
Bent cylinder rod is another common mechanical failure. This failure is
caused by overloads (buckling effect) or eccentric loads as a result of
improper cylinder mounting.
Creeping Cylinder failure is as result of internal leakage: worn-out piston
seals or inside cylinder surface is out of shape or scored.

Servicing valves
The most common valve failures are: malfunction as a result of
contamination, spring failure and O-ring failure.
A typical contamination failure is a seizure between the spool and the valve
bore. This seizure is called: silt lock. Silt lock occurs when the silt force
exceeds the force available to actuate the valve. The most sensitive
hydraulic components to seize are components with small internal
clearances such as: priority valves and servo valves. In order to avoid
locking the valves, we can install a filter in the pressure line before the
Most failures of the pilot control valves are due to contamination. Pilot
(indirect) operated valves are less tolerant to contamination than directly
operated valves. If a pilot stage of indirect control valve is plugged by
contaminants, the failure can result in unintended fully open or fully closed
position. If directly operated valve is contaminated, it is more likely to have
an increased leakage or sticky plunger. For these reasons, every time a
valve is serviced because of contamination, the hydraulic fluid has to be
changed with new fluid.
All valves have to be properly marked and stored lubricated in plastic bags.
Sometimes the valves are performing normally but make excessive noise.
Most common reasons for noise in the valves are:


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Valve pressure setting (for relief valves) is too close to working

Spring out of adjustment
Broken spring
Sticking plunger
Improper hydraulic fluid
Contaminated or hot fluid
Worn out internal surfaces
Flow rate through the valve is more than recommended (undersized

Servicing connectors
Usually hose assemblies fail without warning. They will age and harden
even under normal operating conditions. Therefore, they have to be
inspected regularly for cracks, leaks wear and excessive corrosion of the
fittings. Major causes for connectors failures are improper selection, use,
routing and assembly.
If hose failure occurs, the operator must immediately shut down the
machine, move away from it and call a mechanic to de-pressurize the
system. Then the hose is disassembled and examined for damages. A
failed hose must not be repaired; it must always be replaced with a new
one. Failures such as: high speed discharge of pressurized fluid, flying
connector or wiping hose can endanger a persons life or cause permanent
Factors reducing hydraulic hose life are:

Hose bend radius is less than the specified minimum radius

Rubbing the hose against hard surfaces
Twisting, pulling or cyclic bending of the hose
Operating above or below the specified temperature
Operating above maximum pressure
Using non-compatible fluid
Very high fluid velocity as result of undersized hoses

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Tubes are easier to service than hoses because they can be cut and flared
in the field.
Hoses have to be removed if welding or torch cutting is performed close to
the hose.
Cleanliness of the new hoses is very important. Replacement hoses must
have both ends caped. Any hose contamination decreases the life of the
other components.

Failures and causes
1. Damage during installation. The causes for this failure are: seal cuts
from sharp corners or threads, lack of lubrication and use of
improper tools.
2. Ware-out as a result of rubbing against seal groove surfaces in
dynamic sealing applications. The biggest contributor for this failure
is the roughness of the groove surface.
3. Extrusion is changing the shape of the seal as a result of pushing it
into the gap of the mating surfaces. This failure is common for seal
rings in high pressure applications.
4. Swelling is a result of absorbing fluid by the seal. The reason for this
failure is the use of incompatible fluid and seal material.
5. Loss of original shape. This is common for O-rings. The O-ring loses
its original shape and develops two flat surfaces. This is mainly
caused by excessive compression due to improper design or
working for a long time under high pressure at high temperatures.
6. Contamination. Seals start to leak when hard particles enter seal
contact surfaces.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

II. Components layout- general


Avoid placing the reservoir next to a heat source with temperature

above 80 C. If the reservoir is placed close to such heat source,
reservoir walls may need air cooling by a fan.
The reservoir level indicator or the dip stick should be visible and
easy to access.


External in-line filters should be rigidly mounted to the truck body.

Filters should be easily accessible for change.


The pump should be easily accessible for maintenance and

Pump fitting should be replaceable without removing the pump from
the truck
Pumps and motors are noise and vibrations sources, so they have to
be mounted to a rigid surface. Vibration dampers could be placed
between the mounting surface and the pump motor.
Pump body, pressure fitting and hose should not touch covers or any
flexible parts.


In-line valves should be rigidly mounted and independent from

connector mounting
Use locknuts when valves are mounted in-line
Easy to adjust, replace or repair
Sufficient clearance for wrench manipulation around valve fittings
Sufficient space for electrical connection to valve solenoids
Avoid using connections with pipe threads which require the use of
sealing compound
Manual overrides should be easy to access and would not require
removal of any valve component other than cover
Valve solenoids must have enough spaces between them so that the
magnetic field of one valve will not interfere with the magnetic field of

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


the other valves. This requirement is especially important for

proportional solenoids.
Fluid Connectors (fluid lines)

Hoses must be protected from rubbing against metal edges or hard

objects, snagging, cutting, pulling, bending and twisting
Hose routing must ensure minimum length and number of bends,
avoid twisting and avoid external heat sources;
The connectors should be fasten/clamped to a rigid surface
All fluid lines that are closer than 100 cm from the operator must be
guarded (EU directive)
Connectors for serviceable components such as filters should not be
placed above other components which may malfunction if a oil leak


Common Problems

There are two types of leaks: external and internal. External leaks are easy
to see and repair. Internal leaks are caused by mechanical damage in the
hydraulic components, damaged seals or pressure buildup.
When fluid moves from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure
without performing useful work, there is a pressure loss which decreases
the components efficiency and the component generates extra heat. This
means that any component in the hydraulic system that has abnormal,
internal leakage will increase the heat load on the system and can cause
the system to overheat. This could be anything from a cylinder that is
leaking pressurized fluid through the piston seal, to an incorrectly adjusted
relief valve. Any heat-generating components need to be identified and
changed. One way to quickly locate an internal leak is to measure the
temperature of individual components. The hottest component in the
system can lead us to the problem.
First, locate the leak and determine whether it is through the housing, seal
or thread. Second, look for things that may cause the leak. Leaks are often
caused by pressure buildup. Look for plugged vents, overfilling and
elevated heat levels.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Any temperature above a specified limit is considered excessive heat.
Excessive heat for a system with one type of fluid can be normal heat for a
system with a different fluid. For this reason the first thing that a service
person needs to know is the maximum acceptable temperature.
Overheating causes fluid degradation and change in viscosity. Heat in the
hydraulic system is caused by pressure losses in the fluid. Pressure losses
are generated when fluid passes through the hydraulic components or any
restriction in the hydraulic lines. Heat is equal to the power loss and is
proportional to the pressure drop. Every component in the system, that
creates a pressure drop, generates heat. When we design a system, first
thing we have to calculate is the total power loss in the system (see chapter
Together with the heat generation, the system has heat dissipation. The
amount of dissipation will determine the fluid temperature. If the
temperature goes above the design value we say the system is
overheating. To avoid overheating we should design a system with
minimum pressure losses and size the reservoir according to system power
loads. Design of the reservoir is described in Chapter 3, section 13.

Reduced pump flow delivery

We know that a hydraulic pump produces flow, not pressure.
Reduced flow rate can be a result of a number of factors:
Insufficient fluid in the pump intake
If the pump does not have enough fluid in the intake, it cannot deliver the
required flow rate. Three basic checks are required: 1) check if the reservoir
is filled to the correct level; 2) the suction strainer or filter (if fitted) is not
clogged, and 3) the pump intake line is unrestricted.
Pump internal ware and reduced efficiency
Reduced rotation speed of the drive motor as a result of reduced
motor efficiency.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


IV. Contamination of the hydraulic fluid

Contamination is the presence of a foreign substance in the hydraulic fluid
such as: water, dirt, dust, hard particles (grit, metal particles), etc.
A hydraulic system is a collection of hydraulic components. Specialists
have estimated that as much as 75% of all hydraulic system failures are a
result of fluid contamination. It has also been estimated that it is less
expensive to control contamination than to remove it or deal with its
negative consequences. The contamination control should be built into the
system design and service procedure.
Damage to the system is caused by hard particles flowing inside the
hydraulic fluid. These particles accelerate the wear of the hydraulic
components. The rate at which damage occurs depends on four main
factors: 1) internal clearances of the components of the system, 2) size and
quantity of the particles present in the fluid, 3) system pressure and 4)
filtration. The first factor depends on the manufacturing process of the
component manufacturer. It is usually considered as a given. The effect of
the second factor depends on selection of a filter that would ensure an
optimal cleanliness of the system, which in turn gives a predicted life of the
system. The third factor- system pressure- is selected by the design
engineer and it is based on maximum work pressure, pressure loses, lift
cylinder size and hose diameters. The relationship between these factors
and the calculation methods are described in the previous chapters. In
order to specify a filtration requirement for a specific application, we need to
know exactly what we are trying to remove. If the issue is air bubbles in the
oil, then filtration will not improve the situation.
Sources of contamination
There are four major sources: built-in, environmental, generated and
new fluid.
Built-in is contamination in the new components that is left over from the
manufacturing process. They are: weld spatter, chips, burrs, sand, dust,
sealant, rubber, fiber.
Environmental are contaminants from the surrounding environment
entering the system through the reservoir air breather or through the
cylinder wipers. They are: water, moisture, dirt, dust.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

Generated are contaminants as a result of system operation. Different

processes causing this contamination are:

Abrasion is the process of wearing away of a surface by constant

scratching, usually due to the presence of hard particles such as dirt,
grit, or metallic particles in the lubricant. It may also break down the
surface finish of the material.

Adhesion is metal-to-metal contact between moving parts as a

result of the loss of lubrication film.

Cavitation is a process of formation of air or vapor pockets

(bubbles) due to pressure drop in a liquid (pressure drop is a sudden
loss of pressure). The term cavitation comes from the word cavity
and means formation of cavities. It can also occur in a hydraulic
system as a result of low fluid levels that draw air into the system,
producing tiny bubbles that expand explosively at the pump outlet,
causing metal erosion and eventual pump destruction.

Corrosion is a chemical or electrochemical process by which metal

is destroyed through reaction with the surrounding environment.
When the metal is iron, the process is called rusting.

Erosion is a process of wearing down edges of the components

surfaces due to the high pressure and high flow rate fluid in the
system. This is an interesting problem because the fluid flow affects
its boundaries through erosion and deposition, which in turn affects
the fluid flow.

Fatigue is failure due to repeated stress. Initiation is caused by

micro cracks from the hard abrasive particles.

Temperature- a 10 C rise over normal operating temperature can

reduce the oil life from 4000 to 2000 hours.

New hydraulic fluids are manufactured under relatively clean conditions.

But after traveling through many hoses and pipes to drums or tanks, the
fluid is no longer clean. It picks up rubber and metal particles from lines,
metal particles and rust from storage tanks. Funnels are also a source of
contamination and should be avoided. When they are re-useable, funnels
have to be cleaned and stored in zip-lock plastic bags.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Hard particle contamination

In general, contamination can cause abrasive scratching, corrosion, wear,
buildup of deposits, or any combination of these. Hard particles are the
biggest contributor for wearing the internal surfaces of the components.
There are three sizes of hard particles relative to component clearance:

Particles larger than the components internal clearances. They can

pass through the flow or they can get stuck between the moving
parts closing the clearance and seizing the component. This seizure
condition is called a silt lock.

Particles that are the same size as the internal clearances and are
passing through two surfaces. They cause scoring and heavy wear
of sliding surfaces damage. These particles are the main cause for
the abrasion wear.

Hard particles, smaller than the components internal clearances

(usually smaller than 5 microns), can also be highly abrasive. The
number of these particles in the system is the highest because most
filters do not capture them. If they are present in large quantities,
they act as a sand rain causing rapid wear of the component
surfaces. Very often the only way to remove them is through an oil

A major clue showing that damage to a hydraulic component has been

caused by abrasion, is the pattern of wear. When scoring is caused by
abrasion, the wear is relatively evenly distributed across the entire surface.
Evidence of mechanical problems due to wear are metal particles in the
fluid. To find this evidence, the work fluid is examined. Samples of the fluid
should be collected from a location that contains the highest concentration
of 'evidence' of a problem. Sometimes samples are collected from the
pressure line after the filter or from the return to reservoir line. This is
generally because these locations are easier to access and allow low cost
port installation and sample collections. However, these common locations
are far from ideal because the 'evidence' may be filtered or settled out of
the lubricant, leaving the program with little more than fluid properties
information. Sample ports must be configured to enable the collection of
lubricants in close proximity to the hydraulic components in question.
Water contamination
Water contamination is considered the second most serious contamination
problem after hard particle contamination.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

There are three states of water when it enters a hydraulic fluid: dissolved,
emulsified and free. Usually all three states are presented at the same time.
Dissolved state is when a water molecule is captured by oil molecules and
becomes part of the fluid. Dissolved water can only be removed from the oil
chemically by using a Vacuum Dehydrator. A Vacuum Dehydrator machine
can remove about 80% of dissolved water. Dissolved water contamination
is the least harmful of the three states.
Emulsified state is when water and oil are homogenously mixed.
Emulsified water can be removed physically by using a moisture absorbing
Free water state is when water is in a free state. Because it is heavier, it
settles to the bottom of the reservoir. Free water is the most damaging of
the three states, because it can displace the oil and allow metal to metal
contact of sliding surfaces and cause hydraulic component mechanical
failure. Most of free water is settled on the bottom and can be removed
simply by draining it.
Water contamination accelerates the aging process resulting in oxidation,
hydrolyses, additive depletion, reduced lubricant film strength, corrosion
and damage to components. In addition it can cause cavitation. Hydraulic
and lubrication fluids are best operated with a water content of 50% below
the vapor tension.
Contamination in the fluid increases the pressure losses and it is one of the
most important factors negatively affecting the hydraulic system operation
and reliability. One method of evaluating fluid cleanliness is to measure the
motor current. The motor current draw will go up when the hydraulic system
has more pressure losses (lower efficiency) due to resistance in the fluid.
The environment contributes greatly to system contamination.
Contamination enters the system via the fluid reservoir (air breathers and
access covers), and any sealing pairs (cylinders seals, pump and motor
seals). It is estimated that about 50-60% of contaminants enter via the
cylinder seals and it can be expected that the amount of ingression will
increase with seal wear.
If we have a contamination problem, it is more cost effective to filter the oil
than to do frequent oil changes. Research has shown that maintaining fluid
cleanliness results in increasing the average time between system
breakdowns. Particle contamination reduces the service life of hydraulic
fluids by striping additives and promoting oxidation. When evaluating metal

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


wear trend, the fluid sample has to be taken after the valve (downstream of
the valve).
A measure for contamination is the clearance code of the fluid. It is
described in chapter 3, section 16.
For servo systems and high quality proportional valves, it is recommended:

10m or 15 m (15>75) high pressure filter without bypass just

before the servo valve or 3 to 5 m (3>75) low pressure filter in the
return line
A breather filter as fine as the finest filter in the system (procedure is
described in chapter 5)
The aim is to limit the fluid contamination to the recommended level by ISO
4406 maximum limits 19/16/13 (18/15/12 for long life servo system).
When draining oil from a reservoir, we have to look for the presence of
sediment and sludge on the bottom of the reservoir. A good practice is to
check the water content in the oil on a regular basis. We can use a device
which can detect water in oil. Since water and oil have different dielectric
properties, this device detects the water by sensing the change in the fluid
dielectricity. One of the best tools for inspecting fluid contamination is
analyzing the particles caught by the filter. Typical tests include ferrography
and elemental analysis.


The future of the hydraulics

In the first half of the 20th century industrial trucks had mechanical elevating
systems. Then, within a period of 50 years the mechanical systems were
replaced by hydraulic systems. The first hydraulic systems were
mechanically controlled. Later, some mechanical controls were replaced by
electrical. Today, we have computer controlled systems. The performances
of mechanically and electrically controlled systems depend greatly upon the
system design and selection of the right components. Every year
manufacturers add more intelligence to the electronic controls to better
control the performance of hydraulic systems. By using computers, we can
change the performance of the system by simply changing the software.


Chapter 8: Selected Topics

In the past, a jerky motion of an actuator, due to pulsations in the fluid,

required adding an orifice in the line. In the future, we are going to write an
algorithm to accomplish the same goal. Controllers have the ability to
control not only the movement but also the acceleration and deceleration
rates of the plunger in proportional valves.
Now, we design systems that work within a specific temperature range. If
the oil gets outside this range, the system performs differently. We can
solve the problem by using a pulse-width modulated (PWM) signal to
control hydraulic valves. Using programmable devices to control the valve
performance, allows the physics of fluid dynamics to be added into the
equations. This way, we can control the systems performance in extreme
The future hydraulic system will have electronics that monitor the
machines performance and make adjustments on the fly in order to
optimize the performance. Electronics will be able to perform self
diagnostics and automatically find the most energy efficient system
The latest development of the hydraulic system is governed by the effort to
improve the interaction between the machine and the operator. The future
system will have built-in commands so that the operator does not have to
know how to control it. The operator will simply tell the system what he
(she) wants the system to do. Manufactures have already started making
components that can share data with components from other
manufacturers. New trucks have microcontrollers which control all functions
of the truck. The on-board microcontroller is called a Vehicle Manager
(VM). VM has built-in programmable parameters, which allows users to
adjust the systems performance. Hydraulic components with electronic
controls are connected to the VM by CAN (Controlled Area Network) bus.
The CAN bus transmits in and receives signals from micro-controllers that
are built into the components of the hydraulic system. When the CAN
communication is lost the VM gives an error code. Knowing the error code
reduces the time to find the problem.
Another area of development is remote diagnostics of the hydraulic system.
The advantage is a reduced cost of service. Remote diagnostic is ability to
receive information from the machine in the office. The information allows
technicians to diagnose the problem and bring all necessary spare parts
and tools when going to the customer to fix it. It also allows for better
planning of the daily service activities.

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Appendix A
Source: Industrial Truck Association

Class 1

Class 1
Lift Code - 1
Counterbalanced Rider Type, Stand Up

Class 1
Lift Code - 4
Three Wheel Electric Trucks, Sit Down

Class 1
Lift Code - 5
Counterbalanced Rider, Cushion Tires,
Sit Down

Class 1
Lift Code - 6
Counterbalanced Rider, Pneumatic or
Either Type Tire, Sit Down



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Class 2

Class 2
Lift Code - 1
High Lift Straddle

Class 2
Lift Code - 2
Order Picker

Class 2
Lift Code - 3
Reach Type Outrigger

Class 2
Lift Code - 4
Side Loaders, Turret Trucks,
Swing Mast and Convertible
Turret/Stock Pickers
Class 2
Lift Code - 6
Low Lift Pallet and Platform

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Class 3
Class 3
Lift Code - 1
Low Lift Platform

Class 3
Lift Code - 2
Low Lift Walkie Pallet

Class 3
Lift Code - 3
Tow Tractors (Draw Bar Pull
Under 999 lbs.)

Class 3
Lift Code - 4
Low Lift Center Control

Class 3
Lift Code - 5
Reach Type Outrigger
Walk behind operator



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Class 3
Lift Code - 6
High Lift Straddle
Walk behind operator

Class 3
Lift Code - 7
High Lift Counterbalanced

Class 3
Lift Code - 8
Low Lift, Walk Behind (Walkie) or
Rider Pallet Truck

Class 4
Class 4
Lift Code - 3
Fork, Counterbalanced (Cushion Tire)
Load capacity above 8000 lb (3636 kg)

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Class 5
Class 5
Lift Code - 4
Fork, Counterbalanced (Pneumatic Tire)
Load capacity above 8000 lb (3636 kg)

Class 6
Class 6
Lift Code - 1
Sit-Down Rider (Draw Bar Pull Over 999

Class 7
Class 7
Lift Code - 1
Variable Reach Rough Terrain Fork Lift



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Appendix B
Approximate physical properties of common fluids









Air at 1 bar



11.8 x 10












32 (Light)










68 (Med.




Fluid (ATF)
Fluid (ATF)
Steering fluid




100 (Heavy)





150 (Extra











Steering systems




X 216




























Steering systems

Steering systems












Steering systems











Steering system

130 at

Brake fluid

Castrol SRF





Brake system

3.5 at

Engine oil

SAE 30






Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Appendix C
Kinematic Viscosity Limits


Mean Viscosity
at 40o C









































































Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Appendix D
Coefficients of Local Resistance

Table 2.1 (source: Komitovski M., Components of Hydraulic and Pneumatic



Our target


Benchmark values








































3000 kg capacity


Lift height 3600 mm

Lifting speed 30 cm/s


Lowering speed 33 cm/s

Stop lifting in case of failure


Limit lowering speed in case
of failure


Monitor load weight and



Minimize vibration during


Minimize vibration during




Tilt and side shift option

Optimize system efficiency


Ergonomic controls



Time between failures



Max. system noise level





Clearance between lift


Engineering requirements

Temperature range: -30C to


Measurement unit

Ability to lift 3000 kg capacity

Load /unload from 3 m high
Load lifting
Load lowering
Safe lifting
Safe lowering
Safe truck travel with the load
Smooth lifting
Smooth lowering
Easy to enter and exit pallets
Low ownership cost
Easy to use controls
Reliable system
Low noise level
Good visibility
Work in extreme cold and hot





Relative importance( 1 to 10)

Table 4.1 QFD house with the relationships: 3 is strong, 2 is medium and 1 is weak

Appendix E

Competitor 1

Concept selection


3000 kg capacity
Lift/lower pallets at 3.6 m height
Stop lifting in case of failure
Limit the maximum lowering speed
Monitor load position, speed and weight
Minimize vibration during lifting
Minimize vibration during lowering
Lifting speed 30 cm/s +/- 10%
Lowering speed 33 cm/s +/- 10%
Tilt and side shift option
Optimize system efficiency
Ergonomic controls
System reliability (time between service calls)
Minimum system noise level
Open area between lift cylinders

Engineering Requirements

Total +
Total Overall total
Weighted total





Design Concepts

In the first column we can list the Engineering Parameters. In the second column we list the importance/ weight
of these parameters. In the last column we can list the points that our benchmark design has. For benchmark
we have an existing design. It could be our design or a design of a competitor.

Table 4.2


Appendix E

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Appendix F
Calculate the hydraulic parameters and power requirement of a
hydraulic system (hydraulic circuit fig. 5.3) for the elevating system
shown in fig. 5.2

Given (Engineering parameters and requirements)

Gmax := 3000 kg
v1 := 30
v2 := 40


pmax := 26 10 Pa

Maximum payload
Lift speed with maximum load (+/- 5 %)
Lift speed empty (+/- 5 %)
Maximum pressure in the system

Mast construction- one free lift cylinder and two main lift cylinders
cyl :=


mast :=


Mast mechanical efficiency

Mast polispast number

n := 2
g = 9.807

Lift cylinder efficiency


Gravitational acceleration

Weight of elevating system components

Gcarrige := 115 kg
Gmast1 := 136 kg

Gcyl.m := 42 kg
Gpiston := 26 kg

Gfork := 63 kg

Gm.chain := 4 kg

Gmast2 := 158 kg

Gex.chain := 6 kg


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Selecting cylinders
1. Main lift (side) cylinders
Maximum load on cylinders is:

Lmax := n Gmax + Gcarrige + 2 Gfork + Gmast1 + Gcyl.m + 2 Gm.chain + Gmast2 + 2 Gpiston + 2 Gex.chain
Lmax = 7.076 10 kg

Calculate diameter of main lift cylinders using formula 5.2

d1_min :=

Lmax g
pmax cyl mast

d1_min = 0.042m

We select standard size piston diameter bigger than the calculated minimum
d1 := 45 mm

The area of the main-lift piston is:

A1 :=


A1 = 1.59 10

2. Free lift (middle) cylinder

We select the diameter of the free lift cylinder so that its area is bigger than the
combined area of both main lift cylinders.
A2_min := 2 A1
d2_min := d1

d2_min = 63.6 mm

Select diameter size bigger than the calculated minimum

d2 := 67 mm

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


The area of the free-lift piston is:

A2 :=



A2 = 3.526 10

There are two main parameters which will be calculated first: follow and
In order to have two lift speeds (one for empty lift and one for lift with
maximum load), the system requires two flow rates.
Mast construction has two stages (free lift and main lift) with different cylinder
areas which produce different pressures.
Therefore, the system has four main work points:
Work point 1. Free lift without load (Maximum flow - minimum pressure)
Work point 2. Free lift with maximum load
Work point 3. Main lift without load
Work point 4. Main lift with load (Minimum flow - maximum pressure)
Calculating required flow rate for desired lift speed
Work point 1 (Flow rate in free-lift cylinders, lift without load)
Q1 :=

A2 v2

Q1 = 42.3


Work point 2 (flow rate in free-lift cylinders, maximum load on the forks)
Q2 :=

A2 v1

Q2 = 31.7



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Work point 3 (flow rate in main-lift cylinders, lift without load)

Q3 :=

2 A1 v2

Q3 = 38.2


Work point 4 (flow rate in main-lift cylinders, maximum load on the forks)

Q4 :=

2 A1 v1

Q4 = 28.6


Calculate pressures
Work point 1 (pressure in free-lift cylinders, lift without load)
G0 := 0 kg

Zero payload on the forks

L1 := n G0 + Gcarrige + 2 Gfork + Gmast1 + Gcyl.m + 2 Gm.chain

L1 = 854kg
p1 :=

L1 g

p1 = 2.38 10 Pa
p1 = 23.8 bar

Load on cylinders for work point 1

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Work point 2 (pressure in free-lift cylinders, maximum load on the forks)

L2 := n Gmax + Gcarrige + 2 Gfork + Gmast1 + Gcyl.m + 2 Gm.chain

L2 = 6854kg

p2 :=

Load on cylinders for work point 2

L2 g

p2 = 19.1 10 Pa
p2 = 191 bar

Work point 3 (pressure in main-lift cylinders, lift without load)

L3 := n G0 + Gcarrige + 2 Gfork + Gmast1 + Gcyl.m + 2 Gm.chain + Gmast2 + 2Gpiston + 2 Gex.chain

L3 = 1076kg
p3 :=

Load on cylinders for work point 3

L3 g

2 A1

p3 = 3.3 10 Pa
p3 = 33 bar

Pressure without payload

Work point 4 (pressure in main-lift cylinders, maximum load on the forks)

Lmax = 7.076 10 kg

p4 :=

Maximum load was calculated earlier

Lmax g

2 A1

p4 = 21.8 10 Pa
p4 = 218 bar

Pressure with maximum payload of 3000 kg


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

System Work Points- Summary 1

Flow (Q)
p.1 Free lift empty
p.2 Free lift with maximum load
p.3 Main lift empty
p.4 Main lift with maximum load

Pressure (p)

The system power requirements must be based on minimum two work points.
Work points one and four are both extreems. Therefore, in this example only
these two points will be considered.

Select components
Pump displacement
Pump displacement is function of pump flow delivery and shaft rotational
Gear pumps have best performance and reliability in the range of 1000 to
3000 rev/min.
Electric motors have best performance and reliability in the range of 1500 to
5000 rev/min
Based on this, we will target rotational speed of 2200 rev/min.

Q3 = 38.2

Q2 = 31.7
n := 2200
vol :=




Maximum flow rate (lift empty)

Minimum flow rate (lift with maximum load)

Rotational speed - target
Pump volumetric efficiency

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Calculate and select pump displacement (use formula 3.4)

dmax :=

n vol

dmax = 17.7 cm

dmin :=

Maximum pump displacement needed for empty lift at

2200 rev/min

n vol

dmin = 14.7 cm

Minimum pump displacement needed for lift with

maximum load at 2200 rev/min

Select standard pump displacement

dpump := 16 cm
m :=

Pump mechanical efficiency at 25 MPa pressure &



vol :=

Select to use a gear pump

Pump volumetric efficiency at 25 MPa pressure &



Calculate shaft rotational speed based on pump with 16 cm^3

displacement (use formula 3.4)
ne :=

dpump vol

ne = 2434

nl :=


Maximum pump shaft rotational speed (empty lift)

dpump vol

nl = 2024


Minimum pump shaft rotational speed- during lift with

maximum load


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Select hydraulic line diameters

(The diameters of the fluid lines are based on recomended fluid velocity, see
Hydraulic Connectors, Chapter 3)
Suction line
vs := 1.5
AS :=

Maximum recommended fluid velocity inside suction hose


AS = 470.1 mm

dS :=

Area of inside cross section


dS = 24.5 mm

Minimum suction diameter

ds := 25 mm

Select 25 mm diameter for suction line

Pressure line
vp := 6
Ap :=

Recommended fluid velocity inside pressure hose


AS = 470.1 mm

dP :=

Area of inside cross section


dP = 10.1 mm
dp := 10 mm

Recommended diameter
Select 10 mm diameter for pressure line

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Return line

vr := 2.5
Ar :=

Recommended fluid velocity inside pressure hose


AS = 470.1 mm

dR :=

Area of inside cross section


dR = 19 mm

Recommended diameter for the return lines

dr := 20 mm

Select 20 mm diameter for return line

Hydraulic Losses
Calculate pressure losses in two work points of the system (WP1 and WP4)
p4 = 218 bar
Q4 = 28.6



Flow rate during lift with maximum load


p1 = 24 bar
Q1 = 42.3

Pressure during lift with maximum load


32 10 stokes

Maximum flow rate (lift empty)

Fluid viscosity in viscosity grade 32


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Losses in the hydraulic components

Pressure losses are given by the manufacturer in a graph or table format

Losses in the directional control valve at temperature

p dc :=

0.08 10 Pa

p fc1 :=

0.26 10 Pa

p fc2 :=

1.5 10 Pa

Pressure drop in the flow control when lifting.

p filter :=

Pressure drop in the flow control when lowering.

0.07 10 Pa

Pressure drop in the suction filter (manufacturer range is from

0.05 to 0.10 MPa)

Losses in the hydraulic lines

There are two types losses in the hydraulic lines which result in a pressure drop:
lineal (due to friction along the walls) and local (due to change of direction of the
flow). Lineal losses occur in straight tubes and hoses. Local losses occur in the




Re := 1500

Reynolds Number


Lineal losses in the suction line, use formula 2.26

Ls := 300 mm

AH :=


Suction hose length

Cross area of the hose

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Lift empty (WP1)

Lift with maximum load (WP4)

p s1 :=

2 ds
p s1 =

0.005 bar

p s4 :=

2 ds
p s4 =

0.002 bar

Lineal losses in the presure line, use formula 2.26

Lp := 8000 mm
AP :=


Hose length

Lift empty (WP1)

Lift with maximum load (WP4)

p p1 :=

2 dp
p p1 =

12.11 bar

p p4 :=

2 dp
p p4 =

5.54 bar

Lineal losses in the return line, use formula 2.26

Hose length

Lr := 900 mm
AR :=


Lift empty (WP1)


p r1 :=

2 dr
p r1 =

0.04 bar

Lift with maximum load (WP4)


p r4 :=

2 dr
p r4 =

0.02 bar



Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks

Total lineal losses

Lift empty (WP1)

Lift with maximum load (WP4)

p L4 := p s4 + p p4 + p r4

p L1 := p s1 + p p1 + p r1
p L1 =

p L4 =

12.15 bar

5.56 bar

Local losses in the fittings (use formula 2.28)

p loc :=

2.1 10 Pa

Total losses from the pump to the lift cylinder

Lift empty (WP1)

Lift with maximum load (WP4)

p t1 := p dc + p fc1 + p L1 + p loc

p t4 := p dc + p fc1 + p L4 + p loc

p t1 =

3.66 10 Pa

p t4 =

3 10 Pa

Pressure at pump outlet port

Work poit 1
pp1 := p1 + p t1
pp1 = 6.03 10 Pa

Work poit 4
pp4 := p4 + p t4
pp4 = 24.81 10 Pa

System Work Points- Summary 2

Pressure in Pressure
Flow (Q)
lift cylinders
p.1 Free lift empty
p.4 Main lift with maximum load

Pressure in
pump outlet

These two points (p.1 and p.4) will be used to determine the power
requirements of the system

Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Power delivered by pump

work point 1

work poit 4

lift without load

Pemp :=

lift with MAX load

( pp1) ( Q3)

Pmax :=

vol m

Pemp = 4.3 kW

pp4 Q4
vol m

Pmax = 13.4 kW

Pemp = 6 hp

Pmax = 18 hp

Motor torque (maximum load, main lift)

m :=


Pump mechanical efficiency at 25 MPa pressure & 1800 rev/min

work point 1

work point 4

lift without load

lift with MAX load

Te :=


( ne) 2 m

Tmax :=

Te = 19 Nm

System Work Points


Free lift empty
Main lift with
maximum load


( nl) 2 m

Tmax = 70.4 Nm

Hydraulic parameters

Power requirements


Pressure in
pump outlet


Pump input

Pump input






Flow (Q)


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks


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Design of Hydraulic Systems for Lift Trucks