Common Applications for Hydraulic Cylinders

Common Applications for Hydraulic Cylinders

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Hydraulic cylinders are one of the most essential components in hydraulic-powered machines. Even though most people have heard of them, their operation is not fully understood by many. This article will walk through some of the most common applications for hydraulic cylinders.

So what exactly is a hydraulic cylinder? In short, it’s an actuator found in a hydraulic power unit that produces specific linear motions using pressurized hydraulic fluid. Force is initiated by pressurization that forces a piston to move up and down.

Here are some of the most common applications of hydraulic cylinders and why they are important.

Food Industry

Companies in the food industry use hydraulic pumps to power essential equipment. The most common place you’ll find hydraulic cylinders is on forklifts, although certain conveyor systems use them to process and package food products.

We see hydraulic motors being used to shape, cut, and separate ingredients during food processing. This helps ensure that it’s all consistent. Advanced hydraulic systems are used when dealing with multiple heavy products that are packaged together.

In summary, the food industry is heavily reliant on hydraulics, so you will find hydraulic cylinders throughout almost every factory and processing station.


You can’t walk by a construction site without seeing at least half a dozen hydraulically powered machines and tools. Bulldozers, forklifts, and loaders are all examples of machines that use hydraulic cylinders to operate.

You’re also sure to see excavators, which require a lot of power that’s only found through hydraulic systems. Excavators use hydraulics to power cylinders that are used in operation. Since these machines require a lot of power, hydraulic cylinders are essential.

You will also find hydraulic cylinders in brick mortaring machines and concrete pumps.

Metal Production

Metal production facilities serve as another common place where you’ll find hydraulic cylinders. Since a lot of force is required for cutting, drilling, and assembling metal products, hydraulic-powered machines are used to provide that needed power.  Grinders, honing machines, and planers are three common machines found in metal production, and they all utilize hydraulics.

In short, hydraulic cylinders facilitate the process of metal fabrication due to their power and precision.


Agriculture heavily features hydraulic-powered machines. From tractors to loaders to harvesting machines, you’ll find an abundance of hydraulic cylinders being used. These machines allow farmers to run their farm more efficiently so they can produce more crops.

In today’s world, hydraulics are required in just about all agricultural applications. That even includes both livestock and landscaping on the farm.

Waste Management

Dumpers and loaders utilize hydraulic-powered systems. Both types of machines are found throughout waste management facilities. One of the most common examples is the garbage truck that comes to pick up your trash every week. Hydraulic cylinders provide enough force to compress trash once it’s inside of the holding area.

Aerospace Industry

Since hydraulics utilize a lot of pressure with just small amounts of fluid, they are great in the aerospace industry where every design inch matters. Hydraulic cylinders are used to control flaps in aircraft, landing gear, and cargo doors. That’s only a few of the uses, but you get the point.

If you walked through an airfield, you would see dozens of machines that are driven by hydraulics. From fueling systems to loaders, they are everywhere.

The Future of Hydraulics

Hydraulic systems are able to create a great amount of force using only marginal amounts of fluid, so these systems will be around for a long time. Hydraulic systems are designed to last a long time and many of the parts in the system can be replaced when they wear out. Aftermarket replacement hydraulic cylinders are a perfect example.  Rather than technology replacing these systems, engineers are finding ways to merge the two. A lot of newer designs add intelligent technology into hydraulic systems, making them even more efficient.

Hydraulic cylinders are the muscles that drive these systems and make them a powerhouse.


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