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Maintaining Hydraulic Systems
Maintaining a steadfast inspection routine of your hydraulic system on your machinery is vital to the safe operation and extended use of the equipment. Any failure due to poorly maintained equipment could result in a serious accident to the operator or any people in the vicinity. Plus, there are costs involved with the down time that you may not have already thought about. This include:
- Clean-up expenses – if any damage has been caused due to the failure or hydraulic fluid has leaked you’ll need to repair any damage and clean up any spills according to health and safety rules and regulations.
- Cost of new hydraulic parts and replacement oil – if the failure causes damage to other parts of the system then these will have to be replaced, also if the system has leaked then all the hydraulic fluid will need to be replaced.
- Loss of productivity – any time without the equipment will have a knock-on effect in productivity. You may have to delay the work or pay out for additional machinery hire whilst your equipment is being repaired.
How to combat these issues – create a maintenance plan
A good place to start developing a maintenance plan is to check your manufacturer’s suggested service intervals. A successful program relies on monitoring a variety of inputs, including those of the operator, to establish a schedule that best meets the requirements of the conditions in which the equipment operates. In order to prevent failure and still obtain the maximum value from your machinery, your plan should be routine and be as unobtrusive as possible to the productivity of the machine.
To help you with a plan then it would be beneficial to understand the different types of failures that your equipment may encounter. In general, there are three types of hydraulic failure that you might come across, these are degradation, transient and catastrophic.
Degradation failure - This type of failure is normally associated with the age of the equipment where a gradual deterioration of a component caused by wear and tear could result in the need for repair or replacement. A regular visual inspection should avoid this type of failure. Look for any obvious signs of fluid leaking or hoses wearing through.
Transient failure - This type of failure may come and go, although generally, the consequences are much longer lived. An example might be particles that momentarily interfere with the function of a component. These particles could become trapped in a critical space between matching parts, only to be washed away during the next operation cycle. These failures are often first observed by the operators when they notice something unusual with the machine (hesitating, sudden movement, not extending fully). Operators should be encouraged to report immediately any unusual activity because these failures tend to be symptomatic of larger issues.
Catastrophic failure - This type of failure normally happens without any warning, although a transient failure could be the start of a catastrophic failure when the issues are not addressed. This type of failure is generally expensive to repair, and costs associated with them can far exceed the time, labour and parts required.
In an ideal world, developing a maintenance plan that addresses the causes of degradation failure could effectively mitigate the other types of failure. But this is not the reality we live in. The reality is that the equipment that you manage probably varies in age, and you may not be the first or only owner. Therefore, you don’t know how well it was maintained, or how often it was serviced. The other truth is that there are some components of a hydraulic system that just have a limited life span. These so-called “wear components” include hose assemblies, O-rings and seals.
Given these factors, a well-designed program should align with all three potential failure types.
Parker Hydraulic Fittings and Pipes
Our unparalleled selection of Parker fittings covers a variety of materials to meet the demands of your hydraulic, pneumatic, industrial, instrumentation, or mobile application. You can view our full range of Parker Hydraulic parts or filter your search by selecting a category below: