5 Hydraulic Tools Best Practices
With the rising demand for goods in the manufacturing space, manufacturing machines are often pushed to their limits, being forced to run uninterruptedly. As such, preventive rather than reactive maintenance is recommended to ensure that your hydraulic tools perform optimally.
The type of maintenance on your hydraulic tools depends on such factors as its application, the type of machine, and the production volumes. In this post, we discuss 5 hydraulic tools best practices.
The fluid in a hydraulic system has the following functions:
- To lubricate metal surfaces and reduce friction
- To create motion and force for the conversion of flow into pressure
- Cool the system’s components
- Provide resistance in components such as power steering and brakes
The high operating pressures in modern hydraulic equipment demands for high cleanliness levels in the oils used. Contaminants are the primary cause of hydraulic equipment failure and excessive wear.
Each time your system is due for an oil change, ensure you drain all the fluid and clean the reservoir with a recommended solvent or a lint-free piece of cloth. If not regularly and thoroughly cleaned your reservoir turns into a heat sink that causes sludge, varnish, and sludge.
Your hydraulic system’s filter traps contaminants before they find their way into your system. However, a clogged filter is worse than not having one at all. This is because a clogged filter causes a drop in pressure since the oil cannot flow as freely as it should.
If the filter system includes a bypass valve, the fluid will bypass the filter once the pressure drops to a critical point. If it doesn’t have a bypass valve, the pressure drop escalates to the point where the filter element collapses. In both cases, contaminants find their way into your system resulting in downtimes and component damage.
Knowing when to change your system’s filters is critical. Waiting too long could damage your system. Changing them before they reach their dirt-holding threshold means that you waste resources on unnecessary changes.
Measuring the equipment’s temperatures
Overheating ranks second on the list of the most common hydraulic equipment problem. Ideally, your hydraulic system should operate between 110ºF and 140ºF unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise.
Some of the ways through which you can maintain suitable operating temperatures include:
- Make sure that the system operates within its limits
- Make sure that the system’s relief valve is set the minimal pressure setting that supports actuator operation
- Ensure that the cooler or heat exchanger is maintained. If your system uses an air-type heat exchanger, clean the cooler fins regularly using a degreaser
- Check that the reservoir has the recommended oil levels. The reservoir should not be near any external heat sources
Check the equipment’s tubing, hoses, and fittings
To ensure that your system is working optimally, you need to check that all parts, including the tubing, breather caps, hoses, fittings, and seals, are in good working order. Have a technician visually inspect your system for weakened walls on the tubing and increased cylinder pressure. These two could lead to ballooned tubes, which results in fluids leaking past the seals. This ultimately corrodes the seals, leads to reduced equipment performance, and high energy consumption, increased fluid coast.
Before inspecting your system, make sure you shut off the power source and check for frays, leaks, broken parts, and schedule to have any repairs done right away.
The pump in your hydraulic system is the mechanical action responsible for delivering the fluid to the hydraulic system. When your hydraulic system is running, listen to the pump for unusual sounds such as a high-pitched whine. This is often a sign of cavitation. Looks for signs of aeration which is evidenced by foaming in the fluid’s reservoir. If possible, have flow meters installed so that you can know the best time to replace your system’s pump.
Preventive maintenance is recommended for any machine, however, it is more critical in hydraulic systems. The above list is by no means exhaustive, and neither should it replace your manufacturer’s recommended practices. However, it provides an overview of the practices that will help you identify and remedy problems on your hydraulic system earlier on.