Archive: Dec 2020

Hydraulic vs. Pneumatic Systems

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Pneumatic and hydraulic systems use fluid power to increase pressure and move mechanical parts in machinery. While pneumatic systems use compressible air or pure gas to achieve their function, hydraulic systems use compressible liquid, such as oil. Commonly seen in lifts and other handling equipment, pneumatic and hydraulic systems offer many advantages, making them ideal for a wide range of applications.

Hydraulic Vs. Pneumatic Lifts

Lifts refer to equipment used to raise or lower objects, such as people, cargo, heavy machinery, and more. In order to produce the upward pushing force necessary to move objects, lifts utilize a range of actuating mechanisms and components. The two most common actuator types include hydraulic and pneumatic.

Hydraulic Lifts

Hydraulic pneumatic systems

Hydraulic lifts utilize a lifting mechanism that compresses a liquid, such as oil, to increase pressure within the cylinder, generating the linear motion that is needed to raise and lower the platform and object. Capable of producing more than 25x the force of pneumatic lifting systems, hydraulic lifts can tolerate very heavy loads. Hydraulic lifting mechanisms can also hold torque and force at a constant level without continuous fluid flow, unlike their pneumatic counterparts.

One primary concern of hydraulic lifts is their environmental impact. Since these mechanisms use hydraulic fluid, they can be damaging to the environment in the event of a leak. Additionally, hydraulic lifts tend to take up more space due to having several components and parts, meaning they are best for applications where space isn’t a primary concern.

Pneumatic Lifts

The lifting mechanism within a pneumatic lift utilizes a hollow cylinder and piston. Through the use of an external motor or pump, the piston moves within the cylinder to increase air pressure, allowing the cylinder to move and create enough linear force to extend the lift components.

One primary advantage of pneumatic lifts is their versatility. Since most pneumatic lifts don’t require electricity, they are suited for a variety of applications, including those exposed to extreme temperatures and other environmental conditions. Pneumatic systems are also very accurate, capable of generating extreme force, and less expensive than hydraulic systems.

However, pneumatic lifts must maintain operating pressure during use, making them less efficient and more costly to run than other lift types. Also, pneumatic actuators are normally sized for specific applications, limiting them to the needs of that application’s specifications and requirements.

Applications for Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems

While both hydraulic and pneumatic systems are powerful lifting tools, they are each suited to their own applications.

Hydraulic Applications

Hydraulic lifts are incredibly powerful and offer superior strength and capacity, making them ideal for the following applications:

  • Car Lifts
  • Dump Truck Lift
  • Elevators
  • Excavating arms for diggers
  • Forklifts
  • Turbines
  • Wheelchair Lift
  • Wing Flaps on Aircraft

Pneumatic Applications

Pneumatic actuators can be matched precisely to the power needs of each given application. They also don’t pose an environmental hazard because they use air instead of oil. Having the ability to absorb some amounts of shock, they are ideal for automotive and other sensitive applications. Some of the most common applications include:

  • Air brakes used by buses, trucks, and trains
  • Air compressors
  • Compressed-air engines and vehicles
  • Conveyor systems in pharmaceutical and food industries
  • Explosion-proof work areas
  • Manufacturing and assembly lines
  • Precision drills used by dentists
  • Pressure sensors, switches, and pumps
  • Vacuum cups for sheet lifting

Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems From Unidex

Hydraulic and pneumatic systems work differently to lift objects, and they each offer their own unique advantages. At Unidex, we specialize in providing standard and custom material handling manipulators, lifts, and work positioners to meet the needs of any application. To learn more about our hydraulic and pneumatic lifting tools and how we can improve your production process, contact us today.

Medical Support Equipment

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Lift tables are simple yet versatile tools that help employees lift, lower, or reposition heavy loads of all kinds. In the medical industry, these lifts serve many critical functions. As a stable and quick lifting solution, lift tables enhance safety and efficiency in medical applications from patient care to medical equipment assembly. 

Lift Tables for Patients

Lift tables are devices that utilize a valve and hydraulic cylinder to raise or lower objects and/or people. As an easy to use, cost-effective lifting solution, lift tables are highly beneficial for enhancing safety, mobility, and productivity in many instances, especially when used for patient care applications. 

Medical lift tables are commonly used as patient positioners in settings such as hospitals, rehab facilities, and more. Patients with mobility challenges, such as wheelchair users, require special support in a healthcare environment. Healthcare providers can use lift tables to provide a safe and easy means of positioning these patients since they may have difficulty moving on their own. 

Common patient positioning applications include:

  • Overbed tables
  • Helping support patient’s arms or legs when extended from an exam table 
  • Transitioning patients from a bed to a wheelchair (commonly known as Hoyer Lifts)

Speed and stability are critical concerns in hospital environments and other medical settings. Lift tables help to eliminate these concerns by allowing healthcare providers to quickly and safely move or position patients so that they can receive the medical attention they need, especially in surgical or emergency situations. 

Medical Equipment Assembly Lifts

Lift tables are also commonly used in manufacturing for medical equipment assembly. Mass production of medical equipment relies on assembly lines to rapidly build products step by step. As each piece of equipment passes through the assembly line, factory workers perform repetitive movements, such as turning, twisting, and lifting, to complete manual assembly tasks. Performing these repetitive tasks hundreds of times per day puts workers at serious risk for injury; therefore, proper ergonomics are critical, especially in medical equipment assembly lines where workers must handle heavy, bulky, or fragile components.

Lift tables provide the power and stability to move heavy loads without placing repetitive strain on employees. Used in an assembly line, they drastically reduce the effort required to lift and lower raw components, increasing efficiency and reducing the likelihood of mistakes and injuries. At Unidex, we provide lift tables for assembly line manufacturing of respirators, x-ray machines, and other critical care equipment.

Lift tables also serve as adjustable-height workbenches, which allow employees to quickly raise or lower the surface to a comfortable level. On an assembly line, this is yet another way of ensuring a safe and ergonomic work environment, eliminating the strain of reaching for an improperly positioned work surface. These advantages carry over to pharmaceutical companies as well, who use adjustable-height workbenches to quickly reconfigure testing and assembly areas depending on the needs of their employees.

Lift Tables from Unidex

Lift tables are crucial to the safety and efficiency of many applications in the medical industry, including patient care and medical equipment assembly. Unidex specializes in providing standard and customized material handling manipulators, lifts, and work positioners for a variety of industries. Our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction enables us to meet even the most challenging material handling equipment needs. For more information, or to get started on your custom lifting solution, contact us today.