, 2017-04-11

No fear of the extreme: seven records using hydraulics

Ekofisk (Bosch Rexroth AG)

Force, torque, robustness: These physical advantages have always been used as arguments in favor of using hydraulics in a wide range of applications. For decades, hydraulics have amazed us time and time again by pushing the limits of what is technically possible. Below you will find seven examples of how fluid power moves huge masses safely, precisely and, if need be, quietly, how it can be used for space travel, how it works at the bottom of the ocean, how it forms steel with millimeter precision, and how it saves enormous amounts of fuel.

In the mid-1980s, disaster was brewing in the North Sea. The connected platforms of the Norwegian oil and gas field Ekofisk were in danger of disappearing in the sea. An international team of offshore specialists from Rexroth had a bold idea. They fixed 122 hydraulic cylinders to the pillars of the islands and lifted the 40,000-tonne platform up by 6.5 meters. The day was saved and Ekofisk still extracts petroleum and natural gas today.

MAE Götzen's biggest straightening units for steel works straighten solid-steel pipes 30 meters long and 80 centimeters thick. A hydraulic pressure of up to 25,000 kN is exerted on the steel during this process. This is equivalent to the power of a hundred jet airliner engines. Despite these enormous forces, the units correct bends with a precision in the range of 0.1 mm.

Gates actuated by Bosch Rexroth hydraulic cylinders control the water in the locks of the expanded Panama Canal. Although the new locks are much larger than the previous ones, they consume less fresh water during a locking operation. Each lock has three water retention basins which recycle 60 percent of the water fed in for future use.

Bosch Rexroth's international team of specialists commissioned a total of 156 hydraulic units on the Atlantic and Pacific coast in 2016, simultaneously in some cases.

Hydraulics also come in useful for space travel, for example as part of NASA's mission "Juno", exploring some of the best-kept secrets of Jupiter. The ground stations of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) maintain constant contact with the space probe. The three 70-meter satellite dishes are strategically positioned around the Earth, receiving data and images and sending commands to Juno. High-performance hydraulic motors from Bosch Rexroth facilitate the fine positioning of these dishes.

Exploring and tapping metals, petroleum and natural gas, generating renewable energies, and laying cables for the Internet or for offshore wind parks all require work to be carried out in the depths of the oceans. Such underwater work demands complex high-tech systems. A wide range of electrohydraulic systems come into play here. Standard hydraulic systems originally developed for onshore use can be adapted to withstand the huge pressure and corrosive conditions and work efficiently at different sea depths.

Depending on their size and speed, cargo ships consume between 100 and 350 tonnes of fuel a day. This is equivalent to the consumption of over 30,000 cars along a stretch of 100 kilometers. Together with Bosch, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (MES) developed the Turbo Hydraulic System (THS) for large-scale engines. This reduces fuel consumption by up to four percent depending on the engine load, a saving of up to twelve tonnes per day and ship.  

Founded in 1776 during the era of Catherine the Great, the Bolschoi has always been a building of superlatives. Today, after being completely refurbished in 2011, it's the seven big stage platforms that make the greatest impression. Each platform has two levels and is 22 meters long, three meters wide and 10 meters tall with a weight of around 70 tonnes. Hydraulic drives move them up and down jerk-free along a distance of 16 meters at a speed of up to 0.7 meters per second. And the audience doesn't notice a thing: The hydraulic system is not only extremely quiet, but Rexroth also installed it as far away from the audience as possible right at the bottom of the basement.

Economical, precise, safe, and energy efficient: drive and control technology from Bosch Rexroth moves machines and systems of any size. The company bundles global application experience in the market segments of Mobile Applications, Machinery Applications and Engineering, and Factory Automation to develop innovative components as well as tailored system solutions and services. Bosch Rexroth offers its customers hydraulics, electric drives and controls, gear technology, and linear motion and assembly technology all from one source. With locations in over 80 countries, more than 31.100 associates generated sales revenue of approximately 5.4 billion euros in 2015.

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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). According to preliminary figures, the company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected industry. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to create solutions for a connected life, and to improve quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 450 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 120 locations across the globe, Bosch employs 59,000 associates in research and development.

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