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Although most people do the basics of hydraulic maintenance, including changing filters on a regular basis, checking oil levels etc., many neglect to carry out a lot of other tasks that could stop the equipment from failing. However, there are several things that it is important to do when the system is working well, to prevent failure and costly equipment downtime. Here are some of the most important:
Inspect the filter bypass valve
Almost all hydraulic filter assemblies feature a bypass check valve. This is there to prevent damage from occurring should an element get plugged with contaminants. This valve opens whenever the pressure reaches the valve’s spring rating. If this valve was to fail, oil would bypass the element without having been filtered, and this could lead to the early failure of a number of downstream components.
A lot of the time, this valve can be taken out of the housing, so that it can be inspected for contamination or general wear or tear. However, so few people do this that it is a big cause of mechanical failure in hydraulic systems.
Check the condition of the hose
Another thing that often causes hydraulic system problems is leakage. It is therefore important that the hose is properly assembled, and regularly inspected so that any defects that could shut down operations, are detected and rectified as soon as possible.
If serious signs of wear, including blisters, rips and tears are found, the hose must be immediately replaced by a new one.
Inspect for correct clamping
It is important to use proper hydraulic pipe clamps, and not conduit clamps, which do not stand up well to the pressure changes and vibration of a hydraulic system very well. It is also vital that clamps are inspected to check for loose mounting bolts, on a regular basis.
If clamps are broken, they will need to be replaced, ensuring that they are correctly spaced at a distance of between 5-8 feet apart, and no more than 6 inches away from the pipe’s terminus.
Check the temperature
As hydraulic components wear out, bypassing increases and this leads to the generation of heat. This heat is not good for the system, wasting energy as it does, which is why it is important to use a heat detector or infrared camera to regularly check the temperature of your equipment.
There are so many common hydraulic mistakes that are made on a regular basis, that we have put together another article, highlighting some of the most-common things you might be doing wrong when dealing with hydraulic equipment. Read on to avoid these common problems: Continue reading More common hydraulic mistakes and how to correct them
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One of the most common concerns we are asked to address is the issue of whether or not it is ever possible to overfilter lubricant. This is a question that it is much more difficult to answer than you would probably think.
It is true to say that the cleaner an oil is, the less likely bearing or machine wear becomes. However, this is not the whole story, and there are several points that need to be considered when aiming for extremely low ISO cleanliness codes.
One issue that warrants some consideration is the tolerance of any machinery you are using and its requirements for clean oil. For example, hydraulic systems have a reputation for requiring clean oil, whereas something like an industrial gearbox may not need oil to be quite so clean in order to function well. This depends on a range of circumstances, including its age and criticality.
The right filter
Once you have worked out how clean a machine needs to be to function at optimum levels, you will need to choose a filter that will enable the machine to meet these levels. The benchmark of filter performance is usually its micron rating, but the micron rating alone cannot tell you everything you need to know – the beta ratio must also be considered.
A filter’s micron rating will tell you how fine the item being usde is, whereas the beta ratio will tell you how efficient it is at catching particles at that particular micron value. With these figures, you will be able to work out which filter will work most efficiently for you.
It is possible to purchase filters that can operate at a submicron level. This may sound like a good thing, but filters that are able to work this aggressively will often start to strip out additives, and this can have a negative effect on the health of your lubricant and its ability to protect the surfaces of your equipment to an adequate level.
So, although it is always better to have clean oil. It is important that you also take into account the needs of your machinery equipment when buying a filter. You should tailor your choices to the machine being used, and take the time to choose the most appropriate product to get the job done.
If you are unsure as to what kind of filter would be the best for you and your equipment, it would be wise to consult an expert, as it could save you a lot of money long-term.
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