Hydraulic Equipment Affected by Climate Change? Although there are still, to some degree, mixed messages being sent about climate change, the weather does appear to be changing. We are seeing an increase in the incidence of extreme weather across the globe. Surprisingly, this is an area of concern that can affect businesses or individuals who run hydraulic equipment. Those in the design and manufacturing arenas need to consider that machines may need to start in cooler temperatures and may need to run in hotter conditions. More hydraulic equipment owners could find themselves needing to operate in temperature extremes for which their machines were not designed. This will impact the reliability and lifespan of the machines. Due to the behaviour of hydraulic oil that is petroleum based, it’s important to consider how greater and lower temperatures affect viscosity. With oil viscosity being greater in cooler temperatures, there is more chance for the system components to be damaged through cavitation. If the temperature goes so low as to drop more than that oil’s pour weight then there could be pressure intensification that causes damage to hydraulic cylinders. There is also the issue of loss of lubrication with low oil viscosity. The lubricating film is less strong and without that operating at optimal strength, there’s more chance of damage and scratching. Oil temperature could be controlled by keeping a close eye on it and by adding cooling capacity and protection for cold starts to cope with unexpected change in climate. With overall efficiency being usually less than 80% of any hydraulic system, it’s likely that it will need a heat exchanger to help matters. However, they can take up a lot of room and are expensive to buy, which can often mean that they end up being too small for the job. In a warming world, it’s better to have too much cooling capacity. In summary, it’s important to recognise that climate change will affect how hydraulic systems operate and to proactively prepare to manage this.