In this economic climate, it’s important for everybody to focus on optimising productivity, decreasing maintenance and service costs for hydraulic equipment. It’s for these reasons that it’s vital that technicians pay attention to contamination control. Effectual contamination control is not something that is always easy to handle. It’s something that needs you to set targets and demand the results that you want. This is why it doesn’t hurt to include consideration of any fluid into your hydraulic equipment system. To give a better understanding of what’s necessary, read this case study of what happened on a sugar cane farm in the USA. With 15 cane harvesters in operation, it was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain the harvesters. There appeared to be a continual need to replace components that had failed. When technicians were called in to test the fluid, it was reading ISO 20/22 and this was proving to be very expensive. Every season each machine was needing a new pump at least three times. The investigating technicians stated that the company would need to upgrade their filtration to expect better results. Work on this started by creating a prototype by modifying one of the machines. This proved to have potential, and two more machines were then modified. Four years later, all the machines had been modified and there was only one pump going down at a rate of one time per 3 seasons. With their data in hand, the sugar mill owners asked the manufacturer of the cane harvester whether they could make some modifications to their machinery before it left the factory. In addition to improving the filtration, a few other points were improved upon such as modifications for pressure and temperature. Doing this also improved conditions resulting in the pump life being extended, but this result was mostly related to the filtration. For the owner of the hydraulic equipment, they could now see what a difference better filtration made in terms of running costs and machine reliability. Set your own cleanliness levels Take into consideration the following factors when attempting to set your own levels of cleanliness: How sensitive are your components? This measurement is known as contamination tolerance. Another important factor is that of pressure. Remember that the greater the pressure, the more sensitive your components are going to be to contamination issues. Finally, you’ll need to take into account the duty cycle severity, the fluid type, safety concerns and the machine criticality. All of these should be considered to create the levels of cleanliness that you’re looking for to ensure that your hydraulic equipment runs as it should without regularly component failure. Although in our case study, they purchased a lot of pumps before establishing what they needed from a hydraulic system, they did get there in the end. The message from this article is that it’s essential to consider each of these factors prior to purchasing a hydraulic machine. With the end game in mind, the reliability and maintenance outcomes have a high hope of being achieved, even before you have had any newly ordered hydraulic equipment delivered. Just as we saw in the case study, you can achieve the contamination control targets that you set just as long as you know what they are. Your approach for this should be to start with the hydraulic oil that you’re most likely to use, take the weight and the viscosity index so that you can establish minimum viscosity for what the max running temperature of your machine will be. You can then inform the manufacturer what the maximum temperature should be in addition to what’s required in terms of cooling capacity using the typical temperature of your location as a guide You can then have a custom temperature system as opposed to a standard system. Once you have done this, you can consider yourself as rather a seasoned hydraulic machine user. This will be particularly true if you specify that you want a flooded inlet for the hydraulic pumps, and no depth filters are installed on the motor case drain and piston pump lines. If you don’t take it this far, then at the very least, you should define what you want from your hydraulic system in terms of cleanliness and operating temperatures. For the more reliable and dependable hydraulic system, you should ensure that these considerations form part of your selection process.