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It’s not an easy job to troubleshoot a hydraulic system. It something that always involves time, and in some cases even some creativity. Incorrectly diagnosing any issues can prolong downtime and may even result in unnecessary expense from replacing components that may still be working fine or at worst are serviceable. It’s important to take an organised and logical approach to avoid this happening.
Prior to hiring a specialist engineer, take the time to investigate the problem yourself and eliminate any obvious causes. Great expense can be wasted on calling in an engineer too soon when the issue is as simple as something like a loose wire or a pin that has fallen out.
Although your called-in engineer won’t mind finding something small and obvious as being the root cause of your issue. Of course, he will still be paid for the call out on an hourly basis, but you will definitely mind. You will be annoyed with yourself for not having discovered something so obvious that has now cost you needless expense.
Paying out for something that you didn’t actually need is not pleasurable. However, it’s not as bad as having to pay out to replace a component that has nothing wrong with it or could be serviced instead of having discarded it.
Not being knowledgeable about your system can leave you potentially exposed to being unintentionally ‘hoodwinked’ by an engineer too. In some cases, they may not know their subject matter much better than you do, and they may go so far as to recommend the replacement of parts when that’s not what the matter is.
In some cases, it’s wise to seek a second opinion, especially if the repairs are likely to be of great cost.
Made of a number of precision machined components, hydraulic equipment and systems require care and maintenance to get the best of them and in order to give them what they need for long lasting and trouble-free operation.
We’ve covered troubleshooting before, and if you want to know more in further detail then check out our blog posts on:
Troubleshoot Hydraulics: Basic Knowledge
Troubleshooting Hydraulic Relief Valves
This checklist is for those who have not had extensive experience with troubleshooting hydraulics and it might suit your interns or newbies in the workshop.
Let’s get started.
First off, it’s essential to keep all of the hydraulic system clean. This includes the hydraulic fluid. Oil and oil filters need to be changed at regular intervals. You could say that dirt and grime is your and your equipment’s worst enemy and it’s your role to keep it at bay and prevent it from messing up your machinery and its peripherals.
Here is a checklist of what is at the root of most trouble:
1. The fluid or oil being used is not of the correct viscosity.
2. There is not enough fluid or oil in the system
3. There is a leak
4. There is dirt, moisture or there is another foreign body in the system
5. There is air in the system
6. Structural failure.
7. Adjustments have been made but they are wrong
Here are some shortcuts to answers that you can refer to when getting started with hydraulic troubleshooting:
Your Pump is Operating Incorrectly and not delivering fluid or oil. It could be down to any of these reasons:
· The fluid is too low in the reservoir. You may need to check its level and refill if necessary.
· If there is a hole in your intake pipe allowing air to pass through, you may hear a noise or experience erratic results. This will need to be repaired. Alternatively there could be a blockage in your filter. In which case, you will need to clean it.
· The oil is too thick and the viscosity is too heavy. Check the specs suggested by the manufacturer.
· The pump shaft is rotating in the wrong direction. Reverse it otherwise you will cause irreparable damage as there won’t be enough lubricant.
· Dirt in the pump – clean it.
Your System is Not Developing Pressure
The most likely causes for this type of situation are:
· The pump is not delivering fluid (see info above – with remedies listed)
· The relief valve is malfunctioning either through leakage, incorrect settings or because the valve spring is broken. You may need to check the settings according to the manufacturer, check the valve seat to look for either dirt or scoring or even replace the spring and then adjust it as suitable.
· The valves may be allowing the oil to be recirculated through the system. Check the directional valve to ascertain what the situation is with it.
· There is leakage internally in the valves or the cylinders. Check these components and their condition.
Pump is making noise
· The intake line or the filter is not allowing fluid to pass. Clean these and assure there are no kinks or anything to stop them being fully open.
· There are air leaks either in the intake pipe at the joints, at the pump shaft packing or through the inlet pipe opening. You can check the joints for leaks by pouring on oil. Also check the shaft by pouring oil onto it and check that the inlet pipes are below the oil level in the reservoir to ensure that suction is strong enough.
· If you are seeing air bubbles, you may need to use an oil with a foam depressant.
· Check the reservoir air vent to see if it’s plugged, if so clean it.
· You may find that the pump is running too fast, in which case you will need to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications.
· The oil is at the wrong viscosity. Again, check the manufacturer’s specifications for details.
· Check whether the filter is of the correct size, as this could also be a problem. Refer to manufacturer’s specs for details.
· Check for work or broken components and parts, and replace as necessary.
If you’re experiencing an external oil leak around the pump, you may need to look for:
· Worn shaft packing which needs replacing
· Head packing damaged, again replace it.
· Loose or broken parts, which may need to be tightened or replaced.
Excessive wear can be caused by and remedied as follows:
· Abrasive material or dirt in oil being circulated. Clean and/or replace the filter and change the oil.
· If the viscosity of the oil is too low, check what is recommended by the manufacturers.
· Pressure could be too high for maximum rating of the pump. In which case you may need to check the settings of the relief valve or regulator valve.
· The drive is not aligned correctly. Check this and correct as appropriately.
· Air is in the system. This will need to be removed.
Broken pump parts can come about from:
· Pressures are above the maximum pump rating check the relief or regulator valve settings.
· Seizure from lack of oil in the system. Check the level of the reservoir, the oil filter and the suction line.
· Dirt or material in the pump – clean it and check the filter.
· The head is screwed on too tight – check the specifications as listed by the manufacturer.
Follow our blog for more handy hydraulic system troubleshooting checklists.
Hydraulics has been around for a very long time. But are you aware of how far it has actually come? You wouldn’t be alone if you responded with no. It is a very technical subject that can be quite difficult to understand, but in this article we want to tell you the story of hydraulics! We want to share with you who discovered hydraulics, what it was originally used for and how hydraulic power got to where it is today.
So why don’t we start at the beginning! Where does the word hydraulic come from?
The word hydraulic originates from the Greek word ‘Hydros’ which means water. Why water? Well, this is because water was the first liquid to be used in the hydraulic system. Today, hydraulics includes the physical behaviour of all liquids, not just water.
In this article we want to explain the ins and outs of hydraulic powerpacks. A vital piece of equipment that is used with so many machines we see every day.
In a nutshell, hydraulic powerpacks are self contained units that are used instead of a built in power supply for hydraulic machinery. Hydraulic power uses fluid to transmit power from one location to another in order to run a machine. It really is as simple as that.
So what do they look like?
In order to recognise and better understand hydraulic powerpacks, it is a good idea to get to know the key components. Hydraulic powerpacks come in many different shapes and sizes, some are very large and stationary whereas others are much smaller and more compact. In fact, some hydraulic powerpacks are so compact that they can easily be transported in a small van or even an estate car.
The only real way to identify hydraulic powerpacks is through its main components. No matter the size of the unit, all power packs will have the following; a hydraulic reservoir, regulators, a pump, motor, pressure supply lines and relief lines.
What do these components do?
It may be obvious to some but in this post we wanted to explain every hydraulic power pack component as simply as possible. So here goes.
First up is the hydraulic reservoir which quite simply holds the fluid. Reservoirs will come in different sizes.
Then we have the regulators. Regulators are vital as they control and maintain the amount of pressure that the hydraulic powerpack delivers.
Thirdly we have the pressure supply lines and relief lines. The supply line simply supplies fluid under pressure to the pump and the relief lines relieve pressure between the pump and the valves. The relief lines also control the direction of flow through the system.
Finally we have the pump and a motor. We will begin with the simpler component of the two, the motor. The motor is simply there to power the pump. Easy as that. Now the pump generally performs two actions. Firstly, it operates as a vacuum at the pump inlet and through atmospheric pressure forces fluid from the reservoir into the inlet line and then to the pump. It then delivers the fluid to the pump outlet and pumps it into the hydraulic system. We did warn you that the second part would be slightly more confusing.
So what is the function of hydraulic powerpacks?
Hydraulic powerpacks deliver power through a control valve which in turn runs the machine it is connected to. Hydraulic powerpacks come with a variety of valve connections. This means that you can power a variety of machines by using the appropriate valves.
Hydraulic powerpacks are relied upon by a range of different machines that use hydraulic power to do its work. If a machine is required to carry out heavy or systematic lifting then its likely it would need help from a hydraulic powerpack.
To make it easier for you to understand, we have included a list of trades that regularly rely on our powerpacks. On a building site you will see machines like bulldozers and excavators, which both need hydraulic powerpacks. But, it is not just on building sites that you will find these types of machines. Fishermen and mechanics both need hydraulic powerpacks too. If we did not have them then how would fishermen lift their nets or how would mechanics lift our cars?
When picking a hydraulic powerpack there are a variety of pumps and options to pick from and it is important to pick the right pack to meet your machines needs. It is also important to consider a pack that will help maximise productivity and minimise cost.
Many people will overlook the necessity of hydraulic powerpacks, but they really are vital to ensuring our society runs efficiently.
Do you need to maintain hydraulic powerpacks?
Yes you do and this is hugely important! Hydraulic powerpacks require regular maintenance to ensure they are working properly and safely and to help extend their life. Maintaining hydraulic powerpacks is relatively simple and includes checking the tubing, this can be for any noticeable problems such as dents or cracks. It is also vital to regularly change the hydraulic fluid and look at the reservoir to check for any corrosion or rust in hydraulic power packs.
What hydraulic powerpacks do we provide?
Generally we provide four different types of hydraulic powerpacks. You can pick from a standard powerpack, a mini powerpack, a micro powerpack or a bespoke powerpack.
The standard hydraulic powerpack uses a standard range of modular components and is ideal for the most demanding industrial applications. The mini powerpack is ideal for applications requiring up to 5.5kW. The micro hydraulic powerpacks were originally produced for mobility applications, so are great for when space is limited. Finally, if none of these seem to fit your needs then we offer bespoke hydraulic powerpacks ensuring your application gets the hydraulic powerpack it requires.
Finally, who is the genius behind hydraulic powerpacks?
The man behind hydraulics was Laissez Pascal. A French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher who lived in the mid seventeenth century. Pascal made observations about fluid and pressure which led to Pascal’s law. Pascal's law states that when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container. Hydraulic powerpacks have been designed based on Pascal's law of physics, drawing their power from ratios of area and pressure.
So, interested in our Power Packs? Come on over to the main website and see what we can do for your Hydraulic Power Pack Needs .
Contaminated hydraulic oil is the biggest cause of system failure in hydraulic machinery and often it is entirely avoidable. Mistakes happen, and there is always room for improvement in maintenance and routine replacement activities which can help reduce contaminants in the system. Even when you have got everything right in that area, there are still extra tweaks you can make or things to avoid when refining your hydraulic machinery care process.
Using the correct weight and ISO rated hydraulic oil is essential operating practise with any type of hydraulic equipment. Using liquid that is too thin or one designed specifically for a different type of motor, can cause serious damage to the internal parts through overheating or having an unsuitable level of intrinsic contamination. However, it is possible to go one step further than simply using a dedicated oil; By checking the ISO rating of the standard oil and the rating that the machinery requires, and then using one with lower ratings, i.e. with a higher level of cleanliness it is possible to improve the lifespan of components operating at a higher than average pressure, speed or length of operation. These factors affect the suitability of the standard hydraulic oil for any particular system and by taking into account any higher than average operational requirements, it is possible to avoid premature component failure caused by contamination levels in the fluid.
When looking at whether a different rated hydraulic fluid would be more suitable for your system and deciding to opt for a lower rated one, it is important that this decision is made with the most sensitive component in mind. It may be a case of using the hydraulic fluid with that rating, or of installing added filtration systems before that part of the system, in order to clean the fluid as it passes through that part. They say an army marches at the pace of the slowest person and it is similar concept to choosing hydraulic oil and filtration systems, when there are different levels of capability and tolerance between the component parts.
As a guide, the typical cleanliness required of hydraulic fluid for different types of components is as follows:
Servo control valves
Vane and piston pumps
Direction and pressure control valves
Gear pumps and motors
Flow control valves and cylinders
An avoidable source of contamination in hydraulic fluid is paint flakes or rust in the system. Sometimes a decision will be made to paint the inside of a hydraulic reservoir to prevent rusting, and on the surface. This may seem like a sensible decision as tanks are not cheap to replace and when a piece of machinery is expected to last a long time, it is reasonable to take precautions against such problems. Rust in hydraulic reservoirs can be caused by condensation and settled water in the space above the oil level, but a simpler solution is to keep the reservoir topped up and using a hygroscopic breather to reduce the potential for any water or vapour to form. Painting the tank with a rust proof paint may not cause any problems, but the potential is definitely there and the risk is not worth taking.
Monitoring the cleanliness of hydraulic oil at all stages of its journey round the system is important for maintenance and replacement of filters and elements, but also for the daily operation of the machinery. When it is possible to check that everything is operating as it should, then the focus can remain on the job at hand. Monitoring also alerts users to a potential problem, as if the contamination level of the hydraulic fluid is too high at a particular point, an alarm or warning light can be deployed and the machinery switched off while the hydraulic fluid or filter element is replaced. Being aware and alert to these issues and resolving them before they cause damage to the parts, is preferable to continuing blindly and then incurring hefty costs down the line.
The steps outlined above go a lot further than simple best practice – these are next-level preventative activities, that can save time and money for companies already acting in a contamination-aware manner. There are always small improvements that can be made to the operation of hydraulic machinery and it is hard to implement them all, but at least the knowledge expansion can inform suitable changes to your operating practices.
Preventive Maintenance for Hydraulic Pump System
When it comes to preventative maintenance for hydraulic pumps, it’s essential to be aware of the critical part that the hydrostatic drive system plays. This is also known as the hydraulic pump system. This system comprises piping, valves and filters and is what controls the entire system.
Part of this system and what drives the machinery is the hydraulic motor or hydraulic cylinder. The hydraulic pump is the generator of power and the good running of this is what ensures the pressure is correct.
A hydraulic pump works in either a hydrostatic or hydrodynamic system. The former determines the pressure of stationary fluids, whilst the latter is what forces the liquid and will often result in the movement of the hydraulic machinery. The quality of the pump will depend upon what flow and pressure is required, in addition to the lifespan and its effectiveness.
When it comes to performing preventative maintenance of a hydraulic pump, it’s important to schedule this as a regular activity. Its success will depend upon a disciplined approach. It must also be related to performance so that any changes in performance are monitored and then action taken based on those results.
Considerations that you’ll need to keep in mind are:
· How often is the system operating? Is it full time or only periodically? Is the operating environment dirty and hot? You should also check the manual or instructions supplied by the manufacturer to understand what their recommended operating parameters and preventative maintenance are for the machinery.
· Check the filter and whether its predicted lifespan fits with your preventative maintenance plan. You should also check the history of the equipment and how often it has been serviced or undergone maintenance.
· As in all PM plans, there must be procedures written for each maintenance task. These actions must be written in a way that is very clear and not open to be misconstrued by maintenance personnel at all levels.
At this time of year even more so than ever!
With every type of mechanical and hydraulic equipment, it’s important to develop maintenance schedules to keep them in good repair. This is also the case with hydraulic pumps. By attending to regular maintenance tasks, it’s possible to not only secure safety for operators but it can also save on costly repairs.
Here’s what you can to do to deliver effective preventative maintenance for your hydraulic pumps.
Before you get started on any repairs, be sure to disconnect the pump from the power supply.
One of the most important and most regular of preventive maintenance tasks should be to regularly check the level of the hydraulic fluid. You may prefer to refer to your manual, but in many cases you should expect to see the oil level at ½ inch from the top of the level indicator. You will also need to check the reservoir oil level – keeping in mind that this will need to be drained, flushed and refilled with new high-grade oil on a regular basis.
A schedule for regular cleaning also needs to be devised as part of your hydraulic pump’s preventive maintenance work. To do this, first off you should seal the unused couplers through the use of thread protectors. Then check that all hose connections are clean of any grease, dirt and grime. The outer surface of the pump needs to be kept as clean as possible, as should all equipment that the pump is connected to.
When you drain, flush and refill the hydraulic oil reservoir, be sure to clean the exterior of the pump before you remove the pump interior.
You can do this by:
Removing all the screws that fastens the reservoir to the motor and pump assembly. Take care with the gasket and the filter so as not to cause any damage or movement. The pressure regulating valves are another area to be very careful around when you remove the assembly from the reservoir.
Now it’s time to clean the interior of the reservoir and fill it with flushing oil.
To make it easy to flush the reservoir, put the pump and motor assembly back into place on the reservoir. Now use just the screws that are in opposite positions on the corner of the housing. You should now run the pump. After several minutes it will have been flushed without you needing to attach the complete assembly. You can then detach the assembly again in order for you to drain and clean the reservoir. Finally, using a funnel with a clean filter, you can refill the reservoir with hydraulic fluid before rethreading each of the screws to keep everything firmly in place again.
Hydraulic Power Pack
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