Hydraulic Pump Slippage

Slippage is oil leaking from a pressure outlet to a low-pressure area or back to an inlet. A drain passage allows leaking oil to return to an inlet or a reservoir. Some slippage is designed into pumps for lubrication purposes. Slippage will increase with pressure and as a pump begins to wear. Oil flow through a given orifice size depends on the pressure drip. An internal leakage path is the same as an orifice. Therefore, if pressure increases, more flow will occur through a leakage path and less from an outlet port. Any increase in slippage is a loss of efficiency.

Hydraulic Pump Displacement

Displacement is the amount of liquid transferred from a pump’s inlet to its outlet in one revolution or cycle. In a rotary pump, displacement is expressed in cubic inches per revolution and in a reciprocating pump in cubic inches per cycle. If a pump has more than one pumping chamber, its displacement is equal to the displacement of one chamber multiplied by the number of chambers. Displacement is either fixed or variable.

a. Fixed-Displacement Pump. In this pump, the GPM output can be changed only by varying the drive speed. The pump can be used in an open-center system—a pump’s output has a free-flow path back to a reservoir in the neutral condition of a circuit.

b. Variable-Displacement Pump. In this pump, pumping-chamber sizes can be changed. The GPM delivery can be changed by moving the displacement control, changing the drive speed, or doing both. The pump can be used in a closed-center system—a pump continues to operate against a load in the neutral condition.

Hydraulic Pump Performance

Pumps are usually rated according to their volumetric output and pressure. Volumetric output (delivery rate or capacity) is the amount of liquid that a pump can deliver at its outlet port per unit of time at a given drive speed, usually expressed in GPM or cubic inches per minute. Because changes in pump drive affect volumetric output, pumps are sometimes rated according to displacement, that is the amount of liquid that they can deliver per cycle or cubic inches per revolution.

Pressure is the force per unit area of a liquid, usually expressed in psi. (Most of the pressure in the hydraulic systems covered in this manual is created by resistance to flow.) Resistance is usually caused by a restriction or obstruction in a path or flow. The pressure developed in a system has an effect on the volumetric output of the pump supplying flow to a system. As pressure increases, volumetric output decreases. This drop in output is caused by an increase in internal leakage (slippage) from a pump’s outlet side to its inlet side. Slippage is a measure of a pump’s efficiency and usually is expressed in percent. Some pumps have greater internal slippage than others; some pumps are rated in terms of volumetric output at a given pressure.

Principle operation of hydraulic pump

The sole purpose of a pump in a hydraulic system is to provide flow. A pump, which is the heart of a hydraulic system, converts mechanical energy, which is primarily rotational power from an electric motor or engine, into hydraulic energy. While mechanical rotational power is the product of torque and speed, hydraulic power is pressure times flow. The pump can be designed in such a way that either flow or pressure is fixed, while the other parameter is allowed to swing with the load. In other words, by fixing the pump flow, the pressure goes up as the load restriction is increased. Conversely, the flow goes down with an increase in load restriction when the pump delivers fixed pressure.

The pumping action is the same for every pump. Due to mechanical action, the pump creates a partial vacuum at the inlet. This causes the atmospheric pressure to force the fluid into the inlet of the pump. The pump then pushes the fluid into the hydraulic system (Figure 3.1).


The pump contains two check valves. Check valve 1 is connected to the pump inlet and allows fluid to enter the pump only through it. Check valve 2 is connected to the pump discharge and allows fluid to exit only through it.

When the piston is pulled to the left, a partial vacuum is created in the pump cavity 3. This vacuum holds the check valve 2 against its seat and allows atmospheric pressure to push the fluid inside the cylinder through the check valve 1. When the piston is pushed to the right, the fluid movement closes check valve 1 and opens outlet valve 2. The quantity of fluid displaced by the piston is forcibly ejected from the cylinder. The volume of the fluid displaced by the piston during the discharge stroke is called the displacement volume of the pump.