Hydraulic Power Units And The Film Industry

Hydraulic power units play a major role in many aspects of our lives.  We are familiar with them making it easier to lift and manouvre heavy loads and car braking systems.  They also make impossible stunts possible in the film industry. Even with the introduction of CGE hydraulic systems still play a vital role in creating amazing effects in films.

Those who enjoy the Terminator franchise will be familiar with the use of a hydraulic press which terminated Arnie at the end of the first film.  It just goes to show that old technology trumps new technology every time. In the first Jurassic Park film it wasn’t dinosaur DNA that made the dinosaurs look so real it was hydraulic systems.

Harrison Ford fractured his leg during his reprise in the Force Awakens after a hydraulic door fell off the Millenium Falcon.  Obviously, risk assessments in filmland or Star Wars land are not very vigilant. In all honestly, we are amazed that the Millenium Falcon didn’t fall apart sooner as it looks like it is kept together with gaffer tape.

Hydraulic Power Units And Special Effects


Films involving ships bobbing about in the waves usually take place on dry land with hydraulic power units providing the rocking motion. The blockbuster film Titanic used hydraulic power units to great effect to create the dramatic ending sequence.  Engineers used a variety of power sources to lift scale models out of their tanks. These included diesel generators, electric motors, pulley systems and hydraulic pumps. It would have been impossible to lift such a heavy structure without the power ration of hydraulic power units.  (Source: designnews.com)

Free Willy The Robot Whale

We all have a fondness for films involving animals that are able to communicate with humans who are trying to save them.  One such creature is the whale Willy who was held in captivity in a marine park in America. The plot was basically this the park was closing down and they were going to transport Willy to another tank.  However, his favourite keeper and a teenage boy decided that he should be able to swim freely in the ocean and organized his escape.

In the film, Willy was able to jump on cue and even escape the enclosure while cameras were rolling.  This amazing feat wasn’t due to the skills of whale trainers but due to robotics and hydraulics. The only sure fire way to ensure a huge whale did what was expected of him was to create whale robots.  Hydraulic power units proved the power and the thrust which allowed Willy to jump out of the enclosure and swim away to his freedom. The video isn’t from the film but this amazing creature is actually a robot or animatronic orca. 

If you can think of any other instances where hydraulics are used in movies please let us know.  For any other inquiries regarding hydraulic power, units contact us and we would happy to discuss your options.

Hydraulic Power Units And The Rescue Services

The role of hydraulic power units play in our lives is immense.  We have been using hydraulics to make light work of a variety of jobs ever since Blaize Pascal outlined his principle in the 17th century.  Pascal’s Law state, ‘that when pressure is applied to an enclosed fluid, the pressure is transmitted undiminished to every point of the fluid and to the walls of the container.  This knowledge has enabled us to build hydraulic braking systems and other systems that use liquid to transmit force.

We use hydraulic power units to travel in cars, planes, boats and trains.  They enable us to move quicker than ever before and of course, stop easily with minimal effort.  Our need to get from A to B efficiently and economically puts us at risk of accidents. Rescue services such as the fire service and coast guard use hydraulic power units to power vehicles and launch rescue boats. Hydraulic tools such as, ‘The Jaws Of Life’, and jacks are used to lift damaged vehicles and cut passengers free.

Most rescue services are run by dedicated teams of volunteers who rely on donations from the public to purchase equipment and vehicles.  Money raised by RNLI and the Mountain Rescue enable the rescue teams to use cutting edge technology to save many lives. Hydraulic power units are even used to detect earthquakes and save people from their effects.

Ways Hydraulic Power Units Turn Us Into Super Heroes

Hydraulic power units give us superhuman strength enabling us to rescue people from almost possible situations. The way hydraulic power units work means that only a fraction of the pressure is necessary to produce a greater force.  Here are ways in which hydraulic power units turn mere mortals into superheroes.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Lots of cars and lots of people result in a high number of car accidents.  In 2016 nearly 200,000 people were involved in car accidents with almost 2000 people losing their lives on the country’s roads.  Motorists account for 50% of these casualties while ¼ of those involved in accidents were pedestrians. The incidents of car accidents have steadily reduced sinced the 60s due to drink -driving laws and improved vehicle safety.  However, accidents do happen and our rescue services are well equipped to ensure survivors are able to live another day. (Source: research.briefings.parliament.uk)

Hydraulic power units are used to raise cars to enable the rescue services to get people out of their cars safely.  Fire engines are equipped with clippers called the ‘Jaws Of Life’, which are powerful cutters that enable fire officers to cut the roof of the car off so that casualties can be removed without further injuries.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Next time you avoid putting your loose change into the collecting buckets of the RNLI think about the tireless work of the volunteers who risk life and limb to rescue people from our agitated waters.  They have saved 140,000 lives since they were founded in 1824. There are 237 operating lifeboat stations with 444 active lifeboats in the UK.

Hydraulic pulley systems are used to release the lifeboats into the water, pull casualties out of the sea and set the boat back into its boathouse.  The work is physically demanding and requires a lot of stamina. Hydraulic power units give the rescuers that extra bit of muscle to save more lives.

If you would like to find out more about Challenger’s bespoke hydraulic power units contact us and we would be happy to offer advice.

All The Fun Of The Fair With Hydraulic Power Units

Hydraulic power units (HPU) play such a major role in our lives that it is impossible to imagine life without them.  We use them to generate considerable power to drive a wide variety of hydraulic rams. Applications of hydraulic power units include; agriculture, automation, oil fields, machine tools, military, theatres and fairground rides.

They use the principle outlined in Pascal’s Law to increase the pressure to power ratio.  This means only a small amount of pressure is necessary to create a larger amount of pressure.  Fairground rides use hydraulic power units to make our knuckles white, our faces green and scream with a combination of excitement and fear.  

Modern fairground equipment uses hydraulic power units to lift and rotate their rides.  Freefall rides and drop towers benefit from the safety and control HPUs provide. Being able to control the amount of power means you don’t fly up to space on the ascent or crash into the bowels of the earth in your descent. Flight simulators remain on the ground and don’t take off to mimic the computer generated programme.

The History Of Fairground Rides

Fairgrounds have been in existence since the late 19th century providing fun and enjoyment for everyone. In the past fairground rides needed muscle power to operate in the form of young children who were given a free ride for their effort. The invention of the steam engine meant muscle power was no longer necessary. Early rides were very simple and consisted of swings and roundabouts. The development of rides was fast and furious until the onset of the First World War.

Fairground rides became extremely popular after the second world war.  The majority of rides were German and American imports with the Italians influencing the exquisite artwork. Electricity made powering the rides more effective and efficient and increased the possibilities of more exciting rides. Popular rides include; the carousel, Ferris wheel, gravity ride, roller coaster, flight simulator, drop tower and ghost train.  Hydraulic power units and systems make fairground rides safer and easier control.

Hydraulic Power Units And Fairgrounds

Theme parks and fairgrounds are very popular with everyone.  Blackpool Pleasure Beach sees at least 5 million visitors a year and has been voted to be the ninth best theme park in the world.  The top three theme parks in the world according to Trip Adviser votes are; Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Orlando, Florida, Magic Kingdom – Orlando, Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood – Los Angeles, California.  It safe to say that America certainly knows how to build a large successful theme park.

Hydraulic power units have revolutionised fairground rides making them safe, easy to control and keeping them in the earth’s atmosphere.  HPUs enable operators to stop and start the rides giving them complete control. This increases safety and reduces the number of accidents that may occur. Hydraulic power units stop carts and stimulators from launching into the sky due to a powerful stop mechanism.

Some of the sweet treats we enjoy are produced using hydraulic power units.  Candy floss machines use HPU to make fluffy pink clouds of joy. Next time you go to a theme park or funfair look closely at the rides and see if you can spot the hydraulic power units.
To find out more about Challenger hydraulic power units contact us and we would be happy to offer advice.