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Give Your Hydraulic Systems a Spring Makeover ben lee

Spring is finally here - in its full beautiful entirety with sunshine and plenty of tabloid coverage telling us that it’s going to be hotter than Ibiza. All part of the glorious British summertime! 


This week we’ve got five tips for you on giving your hydraulic equipment a spring maintenance session.


Take stock – As the old Chinese saying goes, ‘He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail’. That’s definitely something to consider when it comes to hydraulic systems. It’s an often forgotten task to prepare for failures by ordering spare parts upfront so that they’re on hand for a speedy change out.

It’s a recommend practice to keep your paperwork up to date of what you’ve purchased on each machine so that you can cross reference your parts including valves, pumps and cylinders with inventory to ensure that you have what you need on hand and ready to use.


You’ll no doubt already be aware of the lead times on some parts. It’s a smart move to stock the parts you may need that are critical to operation. By revisiting what’s required for each machine, you can either opt to order parts or you can remove what you don’t need from the list.


Revise your schematics. Nobody can troubleshoot successfully with an out of date schematic, in particular if your machine is particularly large or of a complex design. Drawings need to be accurate and in line with the current inventory.

Oftentimes machines are upgraded or modified to be in line with safety regulations and overall safety considerations. If the schematic wasn’t revised to show the new layout of a machine, then engineers and technicians can waste time trying to fix a circuit they have no idea about. Although it’s best practice to change schematics at the time of the change, confirming that this has been done is a smart proactive move.


Check out your fluid. It’s important to investigate the condition of your fluid at least 4 times a year, and spring should be one of those times. Take a sample of your active fluid in to a clean sample bottle, so that you’re able to judge what true condition it’s in. Ideally your sample will be from the centre of a reservoir or from a return line so that you can get a fair representation of the fluid moving around the hydraulic equipment circuit.

You can measure what the particle count is in addition to the water contamination levels. You can also check the additive content and how long the oil is likely to be able to stay in service, thus potentially preventing needless maintenance.


Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Use a graph with your baseline so that you can see if there’s a big change from typical conditions. You should then have enough time to identify any issues and fix them before a major breakdown occurs.


Change filters. If you don’t have an electronic or other indicator to warn when the filter is full, you will need to schedule in regular checks. Spring is a good time to put this into practice. In an ideal world you will have a sign that the filter is clogged, emanating either from a light, a pop-up or a switch.

Although it’s great to schedule in filter changes, the only true way of knowing if one needs a change is by manually and visually checking whether it’s clogged. You will also need to look at the component wear whilst you’re there.


Spring clean. This is the actual spring clean itself. Of course, getting a very clean machine is every engineer’s dream. In reality hydraulic equipment attracts an incredible amount of dirt!

Although it’s fine to have dirt on the outside of your machine, having it on the inside is another matter entirely. It’s smart to ensure that the grime from the outside cannot reach the inside. Keep entry points closed and reduce the chances of contamination to keep your machine operating happily. 

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