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How well do you really know your hydraulic machine? Do you know what its operating pressure is when it’s running normally? How about its typical temperature? If you don’t know the answer of these two questions, then you don’t know your machine very well and you could be putting yourself into a vulnerable position.
Recently, one of our clients discussed an issue they had with their machine. Although it’s the mobile hydraulic systems that we supply, our clients are involved in all manner of hydraulic machine operations and will often request our input into how to handle certain scenario
Our client told us that he had been having a lot of bother with pump failures. His pumps weren’t even lasting long enough to complete half of the service life that they were expected to fulfill. Of course, our client wanted to know what was going on. He gave us some information about the machine and we looked over his log books for clues as to what could be causing this.
We started at the beginning. We asked him what the normal operating temperature of his machine was. Our client said that he had no idea. So we asked about the usual operating pressure range. Again – he wasn’t sure.
Although the type of machine that our client had displayed this information permanently in the control room, nobody was paying any attention to it. They weren’t reading it or documenting it.
Do you monitor the health of your hydraulic machine by this method? If not, then you should be. It’s important to have a good understanding of your hydraulic machinery.
It’s not difficult information to collect and it’s what will help with analysing any issues with your machine and even giving it some preventative cure options.
How to measure the temperature
If you don’t have an inbuilt thermometer then you might want to use an infrared heat thermometer gun to measure the temperature. Be sure that you use it on the same spot every time. For example, you could put an X on the hydraulic tank, just below the minimum oil level and label it. This will be the position of where your tank oil temperature readings are taken.
Also mark labels for the heat exchanger ins and outs and in two other places that are part of the circuit.
If your system is getting too hot, you’ll have some idea of where this is occurring by being able to measure the temperature on your narked locations.
It really is worth ensuring that you know your hydraulic system well. It will save you time, energy and expense as you are more likely to be able to recognise when an issue is arising and take preventative action.
Are you interested in what can cut costs when it comes to Hydraulic Power in your business?
We can only imagine that the answer is ‘yes’ as most of us are. Well, we’ve got some good news for you. Today, we’re going to look at what the most common reasons are that hydraulic components fail, even those that have not been in service for long.
These points are worth making a note of:
1. Oil changes. It’s not necessary to keep changing the oil unless you have one of thes2 following conditions occurring.
The oil has degraded so far that the original additives have changed its makeup. Changing oil just because you feel it’s about time it’s changed is going to cost you a lot of outlay as oil is expensive. The larger your reservoir, the worse off you’ll be. However, if you keep operating your system with degraded oil, then that could cost you even more. Even changing the oil based on how long it’s been in service isn’t going to help. Oil needs to be analysed to fully understand its condition.
If you discover that your oil is contaminated with particles, the more economical manner to deal with this is to remove the particles through filtration.
So in summary, only change the oil when the additives have been depleted and the base oil is useless. You will have to perform oil analysis to make your decision.
2. Filter changes. It’s the same story with hydraulic filters. Changing them based on hours in service could mean that you’re too early or even too late. Early brings about waste as their capacity is not reached and you’ll be throwing away an unused amount of filter time. Changing them late is also an error as the particles will not be removed from the oil and therefore, it could lower the lifespan of each component in the entire hydraulic system.
The most effective approach is to only change filters once they have become full of dirt, but prior to the bypass valve opening. This may require a mechanism to be added that will monitor the pressure and deliver an alert when a point is reached. A clogging indicator is one of the most basic methods of handling this. However, continuous monitoring of pressure drop through the use of a differential pressure gauge or a transducer is the optimal solution. In summary, changing filters on hours is not maintenance effective, or cost effective.
3. Heat. If you’re driving along and you notice that your car engine is overheating, you would most likely stop. Most equipment owners won’t run an engine that is overheating. They know it’s going to cause problems. However, the same cannot be said about operators of hydraulic system.
Just as with a car, running an overheated engine is the quickest way to destroy hydraulic seals, hoses and other components. How hot is too hot? The answer depends on the viscosity of the oil in addition to the hydraulic components. Viscosity lessens with increasing temperature, so the answer is when the temperature is high enough to stop the oil lubricating as it should.
When it comes to hydraulic components, it’s worth noting that a vane pump needs more viscosity than a piston pump would. If you have a vane pump in your hydraulic system, then you’ll want at least 25 centistokes to be maintained.
Temperatures over 82°C will cause damage to seals and hoses in addition to accelerating the oil’s degradation. Never allow your hydraulic system to operate above 82°C with a viscosity lower than 10 centistokes.
4. The wrong oil. The most important element of any hydraulic system is always the oil. It’s what keeps everything lubricated and it is also what transfers the power. With these two major tasks to handle, keeping an eye on viscosity is a must.
The viscosity of the oil is what will determine the temperature at which the system should be run. You may have heard this referred to as temperature operating window or TOW. A temperature that is too high will prevent the oil from flowing or lubricating as it should. Oil that has a viscosity that is too low will not deliver adequate lubrication either. Keeping an eye on this will also ensure that you power isn’t lost due to either internal leakage or mechanical friction.
You don’t want increased power consumption as it will cost you more. The best way to handle this is to check what your machines temperature operating window is and to ensure that your machine operates within that window at all times. We won’t go into how to do this here, as it’s rather complex, but it’s something that does need to be addressed.
5. Filter locations. There are two locations for filters that cause the most problems – the piston pump and motor case line and the pump inlet. You may have a strainer attached to the pump inlet to collect any ‘garbage’ in your oil, but this oil is being drawn from a reservoir, not somewhere where there should be any garbage.
The pump inlet is also positioned off the bottom, so there should not be a lot of dirt passing through. By placing filters here, it can affect whether you get maximum pump life. If there is any form of restricted intake, it can reduce the lifespan of the gear pump by as much as half. Hydraulic pumps are not built with ‘sucking’ in mind! The way to handle this is to remove any suction strainers or depth filters on either the pump inlet or the piston pump.
Applying these points should be helpful to any hydraulic system operators and should deliver methods to save yourself and your business great expense.
Until next time..
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 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.
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 .
Injuries are a relatively common occurrence for people working with hydraulics, especially those working in the maintenance and/or repair of hydraulic equipment. The most serious injury is a pressurised fluid injection, but accidents can also happen with moving parts when the stored energy in the system is not released before inspections and repairs are made. Unfortunately, it is not routine for tags and gauges to be used to denote places where energy is stored. The engineer must study the schematic thoroughly before starting any investigative work, in order to be sure that there is no danger of anything moving while they are working on the machinery.
If pressure gauges were used to show the residual pressure left in moving parts the engineer could utilise the pressure relief valve to release the stored energy and make the hydraulic equipment safe to work on. Relieving pressure stops anything moving of its own accord, which could be dangerous, and also reduces the risk of high pressure hydraulic fluid injection injuries, which can be fatal.
When inspecting for leaks in seals and hoses, it is important that pressure is released before checking but even then, it is not advisable to check with your hands. Instead, perform a visual inspection and look for other signs of leaks, such as fluid on the floor or on parts of machinery that sit underneath the suspected location of the leak.
Hydraulic equipment can be just as dangerous as electrical circuits for those investigating and repairing faults; but electrical work is governed by strict regulations which include the use of lockout tags and labels denoting the location of potentially dangerous components. Hydraulic equipment is not covered by such stringent regulations and as such, it is at the discretion of the designer whether pressure gauges and safety accessories are included in the machinery at the time of building. These items can be retrofitted by the owner, but this is not often done and this means hydraulic engineers must spend a lot of time reading manuals and schematics to understand where the dangers lurk, before being able to safely get on with any repair work.
Just because it isn't legally required, there are no good arguments for overlooking these safety precautions, but several reasons why they should be addressed., such as: reduced downtime on repair and maintenance tasks, a reduction in the potential for workplace injuries and a speedier repair. All effected by removing the need to spend time studying diagrams to pinpoint potential dangers. Employee health and safety is of paramount importance to employers, and this could well be the biggest reason why hydraulic equipment should be fitted with pressure gauges, relief valves and lockout tags, to prevent tampering with settings and to alert engineers to the locations to address first.
Do you know how long any hydraulic pump should last? In this industry, using past experience might not always deliver the answers you were hoping for, and are likely to give you answers that are actually no better than guessing.
Disappointingly, there is no dependable approach to determine how long your hydraulic pump will last. Using historical data is perhaps something that will give you the best indicator, but if it’s a new pump and you have no data – that’s where the guessing game beings. Fortunately, there are a number of factors that determine how long any pump will last and using these can give you an estimate that is more informed.
For example, let’s consider your hydraulic system. The type of application it is will make a different to the pump life and so will the temperature. Using pumps that are graded as ‘industrial grade’ will deliver a better lifespan than those that are not. Using auxiliary information can also help. For example, an axial piston design pump has less heavily loaded shaft bearings and therefore are not at a great risk of premature failure.
Of course, roller type bearings in this type of piston design can fail prematurely due to brinelling. That’s why it’s better to use shell-type bearings as they are more like a bushing than a bearing.
Another major consideration is the type and grade of oil being used. If it’s ‘special purpose’ and is fire resistant then it won’t always have a positive influence on the service life. However, it will run cool which could help with its lifespan as there will be less temperature related lubrication issues.
Keeping a high level of oil cleanliness will also work well in extending the life of any hydraulic component.
Another point to ponder is how hard the pump is working. This is about how fast it’s spinning and under what pressure –how much of each hour is the pump under load? If they are under load for 55 minutes of every hour, then that’s going to be a 90% duty cycle, which is a lot to maintain compared to being under load for say 42 minutes of every hour. Under ideal conditions such as a duty cycle of 70% or less, 1200 rpm spinning with clean oil, you can hope an industrial grade hydraulic pump would last 20,000 hours or more. However, if you’ve got a 90% load with special purpose oil and 1800 rpm then you are more likely to get something in the arena of 10,000 hours of service life.
Running To Failure
There’s no doubt that these are only informed estimates using the information that we have about the pump and how it’s being used. Of course, if there are any hidden design flaws then the lifespan of the pump could be drastically compromised. For example, if there are pressure spikes that are caused by rapid valve shifts, then over time this could lead to a pump failure.
To continue to run a hydraulic pump until it fails is not a good idea. Its failure could cause consequential damage to other components. The cost of the rebuild of the pump will increase. Changing a pump before its life expires should be managed, whilst historical data is collected.
So if it’s looking like 20,000 hours is a strong lifespan possibility for any pump, then it’s wise to pull it out at 12,000 hours. It can be inspected and put back into service until say 15,000 hours. Then run to 17,500 hours and if all is well, then run until 20,000 hours. Getting too greedy will put the pump into the correct timeframe for a failure, so it’s not wise to push it too far.
Using this approach can provide information to make informed decisions on realistic expectations for component lifespan without putting the hydraulic system at great risk.
The stats on hydraulic machine hose leakage that hose manufacturer Gates recently produced are not a pretty sight. According to them just one litre of oil can cause catastrophic environmental damage and is able to pollute up to 1,000,000 litres of water. With 370m litres of oil estimated to be leaking each year, it’s rather a shocking statistic and not one that any of us would like to think we are contributing to.
Stats like this are an eye opener and something that can bring about changes to how things are done due to new laws and governance.
Knowing this, how would it affect you if the government passed a law to account for all hydraulic oil, both deliveries and disposals? Any deficit between the number of litres delivered and the litres disposed of would be assumed to have escaped into the environment and would be fined. What would your numbers look like if you had to account for every drop of your oil? There’s no doubt that any business would do better without this.
The only way to tell how much oil your machine is consuming each year is to measure and document all oil changes and any top up additions.
However, most hydraulic engineers fail to do this. Those who do start to do it are often surprised at how much hydraulic oil each machine is getting through each year, but can then monitor it enough to be able to know whether they should be taking action to minimise losses through spoilt seals and faulty connections.
Adding one more task to the list isn’t something any of us want to do, but without measurement there is no management and as a result no control.
There are associated costs with disposal of hydraulic oil and any oil clean up. There is also the issue that if oil can get out, then something could be getting into and contaminating your hydraulic system. Removing contaminants costs money, as becomes apparent each time a filter element needs to be replaced. To not remove contaminants costs even more!
Although it costs to schedule downtime, depending on how much leakage you have, it could cost more to replace the missing oil each week.
It’s can be an expensive mistake to continue to allow your hydraulic machine to leak. It’s something that should be seen to. If you want to know what’s causing it, look out for our blog post on stopping hydraulic system leakages.
Is your hydraulic system stuck in a breakdown and repair cycle? In today’s blog post we share with you 3 simple ground rules that will provide you with the opportunity to stop being terrorised and exhausted by this.
As with anything in life – the more you put in, the more you get out. This fact also applies to the results that you can gain from hydraulic equipment. You do the maintenance, and you can expect an increased level of reliability. Keep maintaining your system for best results.
Any machinery should be an asset to your business. You shouldn’t be in a position that you are beset by issues that are both time and profit consuming. Continually replacing oil, seals, pumps, cylinders, filters and valves can be costly, let alone the down time caused by an unreliable machine that can stop work at the most disadvantageous of times.
Even if your troubling fault has gone away in the short term, you know that it will soon be back, helping itself to your finances and sending your employees to spend the afternoon playing cards whilst they wait for the engineer to fix things up. Even if your company can afford to support such times, it certainly isn’t doing it any good.
If your machine is becoming more of a drain than an asset, then it could well be time to look for what the core problem is so that you can fix it, once and for all.
Before you get started, know that you are capable of fixing this issue and if you follow these 3 ground rules then you’ll be working your way to a satisfying ending:
Your first mission is to identify the temperature operating window (TOW) of the machine. The TOW is vital for the machine to run at optimal output with minimal downtime. Even if you tune up the machine with all the latest components, if it’s run outside of the TOW, then you will experience ongoing issues.
We’ve seen that many people don’t spend the time that is necessary to truly understand what the TOW is of their machine. However, it’s something that is essential knowledge for the wellbeing and reliable operation of your machine.
Something that will directly connect to the TOW of your hydraulic machine is the viscosity of the oil. This will determine what the minimum and maximum temperatures are that your machine will operate in safely.
Exxon Mobile Industrial produced data that specified that the initial viscosity is what the TOW depends upon. You should also be checking whether the machine’s actual temperature operating window is within the optimum temperature operating window. If it isn’t, then there is a need to change something.
The next point that you need to consider in your quest to keep your machine running well, is that each machine has an efficiency that will depend upon both its design and the components that are in use. However efficient the machine is at converting input power into work, will be closely tied to the level of heat that is being produced.
If the temperature is not within the safe TOW then it could get heat damaged and this in itself will make it unreliable.
Of course, clean oil is essential for hydraulic machines to be reliable and blessed with a long life. There are many aspects of this including the contamination caused by particulates and water. You’ll need to check whether you have optimal operating pressure, whether the components are suitable and of course, what type of system you’re running.
It’s not always easy to control how much contamination you have. However, it’s key to remember that contamination plus temperature work well to create oil failures. You can experience sludge build up and varnish as a result of not keeping on top of filter changes, prevention of water contamination and failing to test oil samples.
According to our own engineers in addition to our contacts in the hydraulic industry, most of the major failure causes (up to 90% of them) can be avoided by following these three rules. Wouldn’t you rather have a machine that is reliable?
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