Lifting and Moving in the Industrial Workplace
Any industrial setting does at least one of three things. It can create more things, it can create things faster, or it can manipulate things that are too difficult for humans to do by hand. And sometimes a facility can do all of these things at the same time, as in ship building, for example. But regardless of the overall goal of an industrial setting, each individual step on that goal can oftentimes be as simple as moving one thing from here to there.
When it comes to relocation across a flat plane, few things can match the simple wheel for innovation and practicality. Even alterations, such as the use of ball bearings in furniture casters, only address efficiency, and not the prime functions of the wheel, which is to use forward momentum to create complementary friction opposite the ground, and to use the natural perpetual levering action of a circle to reduce the force needed to move an object.
But what if a heavy object must be moved perpendicular to the plane of the floor? Straight up, in other words? In these instances, friction becomes far less a concern than gravity. A heavy object experiences gravity at one G as it sits on the ground. To lift it up at all requires the application of more than one G of force in the opposite direction. If the object in question is made of metal, then lifting magnets fit the bill quite nicely, blending electromagnetic force with the structural stability of the lifting arm to overcome gravity.
And if the object or objects are not made of metal? Then even more complicated systems may be needed, such as a series of hydraulic hoses driving a hydraulic cylinder. Hydraulic cylinders work on the principles of hydrodynamics, which deal with the transfer of force between different pressures in a fluid. The same volume of water through a different sized opening will affect the pressure of the water (for an easy example of a hydraulic hose, imagine putting your thumb over the nozzle of a garden hose). Hydraulic hoses, hydraulic pumps, and hydraulic cylinders can be utilized to safely and efficiently raise or lower enormously heavy objects, all using the power of water.
In mechanical engineering, sometimes even the simplest of tasks can demand a high degree of innovation and scientific knowhow. The next time you pick up a particularly heavy bag of groceries, imagine what it might take to lift a bag of groceries a thousand times as heavy, and you can see why industrial lifting is big business. Check out this site for more.