Alan Hitchcox

Penton Media Inc.

Alan became a technical editor in 1981 and joined Hydraulics & Pneumatics in 1987. After serving in the US Army as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, he graduated with a BS in engineering technology from Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio, while working as an industrial service coordinator and project manager at an industrial distributor. He has taken technical courses in fluid power and electronic and digital control at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and has served on several industry committees.

Desiccant breather incorporates check valves for longer life

As designers have learned more about the detriments of hydraulic fluid contamination, they’ve been incorporating techniques to keep dirt and moisture out of hydraulic systems. Reservoirs have been one of the most common points of entry for dirt and moisture. Fortunately, filter breathers that incorporate moisture-adsorbing desiccant provide a simple and inexpensive way to keep dirt and water out of reservoirs.

An easier fit for clevis pins
It's a given that when you need to transmit tremendous forces for excavators and other types of heavy equipment, hydraulics is the only way to go. And although transmitting cylinder force to the machine's structure may not be a "hydraulics" problem a practical solution must be found to avoid premature bearing failure and other problems.
Deep water compensators take the pressure
Most of us don’t assemble components into systems and subsystems while hundreds of feet under water. So if an assembly will be used at the bottom of the ocean, it must accommodate hydrostatic pressures measured in hundreds or thousands of psi.
Scalable electrohydraulic controls
Rexroth extends the range of possible applications for the HNC100 NC family of electrohydraulic controls with its HNC100-3X motion controls. The scalable controller format controls up to four electrohydraulic axes. Ethernet is used for the first time not only with SERCOS III and PROFINET RT but also via a parametrization interface.
I thought I’d seen everything
Some people have told me I’m the most passionate person about fluid power that they know. They might mean I’m a real nerd, but I take it as a compliment. However, these people don’t realize how many other people out there share my passion, and many to an even greater degree. They may share my passion, but are much more knowledgeable than I’ll ever be.
Heavy loads lifted with synchronized control

The transfer and jacking of oil platforms, drilling mud tanks, and other large, heavy loads demand compact and robust engineering solutions that can fit into tight spaces and tolerate extreme ambient conditions. Add to this the precise positioning and motion control of loads with variable centers of gravity, and the task seems daunting.

Reservoir staves off corrosion

Desiccant filter breathers are being used more and more to trap moisture before it gets into a hydraulic reservoir. Although effective, they do not necessarily offer a permanent solution. That’s because the desiccant eventually becomes spent, and unless the desiccant or the entire unit is replaced, moisture will again be drawn into the reservoir.

Log splitter works double-time

Log splitters represent one of the most basic applications of fluid power and are probably the most popular project for fluid power do-it-yourselfers. The most basic version consists of a pump, directional valve, and cylinder to apply hydraulic pressure as brute force to a wedge, which is mounted at the end of the cylinder’s piston rod to split the log.

Telescopic handler is showcase of valves

Depending on the attachment mounted to the end of its boom, the telescopic handler (telehandler) is used as an all-terrain forklift, crane, aerial work platform, or even an excavator. Its strength and agility have made it essential for most large construction projects. More recently, it has gained a foothold in materials handling. A pair of pallet forks is the most common attachment for a telehandler, and the most common application is moving loads to and from places inaccessible to a conventional forklift.

Traction and efficiency rule

You can find special-purpose vehicles for almost every task of landscape gardening – from riding lawn mowers to equipment trailers. These vehicles are normally designed for relatively flat and level fields, so an operator confronting a steep slope can pose a real challenge. A solution to this problem is a system similar to auto-leveling systems found in combine harvesters. For mowers, the chassis and mower unit remain parallel to the ground’s surface while the operator pod stays level. The result is safer and more comfortable mowing on slopes.

Crane is designed for a bunch of nuts

If you ever read the ingredients of packaged food, you’ve likely found palm oil on the list for potato chips, candy, and many other foods. Palm oil has also long been used in shampoo, and more recently has emerged as a candidate for environmentally friendly lubricants and biofuel.

Sensor monitors hydraulic oil quality

Wouldn’t it be great if you could monitor the oil condition of hydraulic fluid in real time while the equipment is running? RMF Systems, Waddinxveen, Netherlands, recently introduced its OQS Oil Quality Sensors. The OQS constantly monitors moisture, oxidation, contamination, acid build up, wear particles, additive breakdown, and other fluid characteristics. An accompanying display shows oil condition in real time, plus rate of change data and trends.

Harvester puts hydraulics to work

When is a harvester more than a harvester? When it also separates the grapes from their stems and sorts the grapes. A trimming tool can also be used to prune the vines. Such is the case with grape harvesters from Pellenc SA, Pertuis, France. Pellenc manufactures multiple lines of harvester trimmers, and other equipment for owners and operators of vineyards. Pellenc’s machines are designed for maximum crop yield by taking advantage of closed-loop electrohydraulic control for propulsion, harvesting, and cleaning.

Progress for women in engineering
Editor Alan Hitchcox discusses the progress women have made in engineering, especially in management roles.
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