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Using bypass filtration to extend machine life

When you order a high-performance hydraulic lubricant like Mobil DTE 25, you can be sure you’re doing the best for your machinery, but no lubricant lasts forever, especially when environmental contamination can be a factor.

In fact, contaminated hydraulic fluid is a frequent cause of breakdowns, which then often lead to lost production from unscheduled downtime and costly repairs. To prevent this from happening, you may be tempted to conclude that your Mobil oil needs to be changed more frequently. While this is certainly needed sometimes, excessive oil changes lead to more scheduled downtime and greater costs. It’s also not doing the environment any favours. What’s more, if contamination is an ongoing problem, your new oil may quickly become contaminated.

Renewing the hydraulic system filters more frequently may also seem like a good way to ensure contaminants are effectively filtered out. Unfortunately, this can also cause considerable downtime, especially when filters are embedded deep in the system and require some dismantling before they can be accessed. This can therefore also turn out to be rather expensive.

Fortunately, there is an effective way to deal with contamination without the downtime associated with oil and filter changes. Bypass filtration units can be used to filter a machine’s hydraulic oil as it continues running. It does this by extracting a small amount of oil from the machine’s reservoir at a time and passing it through various filters. The filtered oil is then sent back to the system. Not only does this delay the need for a full oil change, subject to Mobil’s recommend oil life of course—the reduced contamination should mean the system’s own filters last longer.

Bypass filtration units are suitable for the vast majority of hydraulic machinery, even many older machines that may be obsolete. A single pass can reduce particle contamination to three microns, with further slow runs making any level of cleanliness possible. It can also remove almost all water in the oil.

Of course, the bypass filtration system is carrying the bulk of the filtration duty, so it will need its own filters to be regularly renewed. Fortunately, this is a radically different proposition to renewing the machine’s filter. First, there is no downtime required, because machinery can continue operating without bypass filtration, at least in the short term. Second, these filters are often much cheaper and easier to change than those embedded in hydraulic systems.

To give an example, a factory in Britain analysed its oil and found it be NAS 12, which is the highest level of contamination on the NAS scale. Naturally, such dirty oil led to problems such as machine breakdowns, seal damage and valve blockages. On adding a bypass filtration system, it initially had to work rather hard to clean the oil, with new filters being required every few weeks. Once the oil cleanliness stabilised at NAS 6, however, new filters were only needed every 12 weeks. Above all, though, the factory experienced no more breakdowns from contaminated hydraulic fluid.

In short, bypass filtration can be a cost-effective way to reduce machine breakdowns while avoiding the need for excessive oil and filter changes.

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