Easily Calculating Hydraulic System Efficiencies

Most equipment owners take the hydraulic systems on their machines for granted. Each machine came with hydraulic components and performance dictated by the OEM and that’s fine. When could it possibly become a concern for the customer?

It becomes a concern anytime there’s a repair, a modification, or an attempt to enhance performance, says Lane Oltmanns of the hydraulic power application division of Gates Corporation. But while large OEMs have entire departments of fluid engineers that design hydraulic systems, few service technicians in the field are experts in fluid dynamics. This is a problem because fluid dynamics is a complex subject and even small changes can have big consequences.

For this reason, Gates provides their Fluid Flow Pressure Calculator, a free online app for calculating hydraulic performance. Users enter specs for their system, such as hose diameter and length, pump flow in gallons per minute, and the number and types of fittings. They also enter the specific gravity and viscosity of the hydraulic fluid to be used. These two values are provided by the fluid manufacturer on the packaging and on their website.

The calculator will output eight data points for the hose and six data points for the hose assembly. Values include pressure loss, horsepower loss, Reynolds numbers (which help to predict flow patterns), heat gain in BTUs per hour, and velocity. The chart will give the same data points for other hose assemblies near the size specified for comparison purposes. The app has many uses but, says Oltmanns, “the main goal is to ensure the system has headroom to keep you out of the danger zone and to make sure any repairs or modifications don’t jeopardize the performance and safety of the system.”

Oltmanns will be conducting a seminar on the use of the Gates app at IFPE 2023 entitled Efficiency in Hydraulic Systems. “The ideal attendees are those in hydraulic maintenance and repair, distributors of hydraulic parts and components, and designers at small to mid-size equipment manufacturers.”

Oltmanns will touch on characteristics that can have an effect on hydraulic system performance, such as additives used by fluid manufacturers and types of hydraulic fluid used in specialty applications, such as the phosphate- and water-based flame-resistant products used in mining.

Oltmanns emphasizes the need for accurate inputs to ensure accurate outputs. “It’s the old GIGO,” he says. “Garbage in, garbage out.” He’ll help attendees understand how and where to gather the required information. Certain system fundamentals will be reviewed, such as the fact that the smallest restriction in the system dictates the flow and pressure losses.

Both the class and the app are user-friendly. “It is an engineering app,” says Oltmanns, “not a sales app. It’s an easy way for customers to make sure they obtain and retain optimal performance from their hydraulic systems as they service, repair, and modify those systems.”


Co-located within CONEXPO-CON/AGG, IFPE provides an unmatched opportunity to harness the power of in-person connection. Engineers can meet with potential partners to discuss processes for streamlining the integration of sensors with hydraulic systems, all with the latest innovations in fluid power at their fingertips.

Learn more about the show and the endless possibilities that come with collaboration on the front lines of fluid power. Take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today


IFPE’s comprehensive education program is the leading source for executives, engineers, manufacturing plant and operation leads, technicians, mechanics, and other fluid power professionals covering the latest technical topics and trends. Click here for more information.


Mark your calendar for IFPE, March 14-18, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today


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