Would you part with 50 bucks to save 70,000? This is a 'no-brainer' for most of us. Well, here's a story for you:
I recently conducted failure analysis and a reliability audit on a 300 kilowatt hydrostatic transmission. The hydraulic system was running a synthetic ester, biodegradable hydraulic fluid. This $45/gallon hydraulic fluid had been destroyed in under 12 months and a set of pumps shortly after. So with $20,000 of hydraulic fluid and $50,000 of pumps ruined in short order, my client was understandably wondering what went wrong.
The system was built and installed by a reputable distributor. From a hydraulic engineering perspective the circuit was adequately designed and the system well built. But from a maintenance and reliability perspective it left a lot to be desired. My client, the end user, didn't have a lot of experience with hydraulic equipment and was reliant on the company that built the system to guide them on its maintenance.
An oil analysis program had been set up, but it seems the only thing anyone was taking any notice of was particle contamination. If you've been reading this newsletter for a while, you'll know there's a lot more to hydraulic equipment reliability than just monitoring and controlling hard particle counts.
All the warning signs pointing to oxidative failure of the oil went unnoticed. The oil started polymerizing, coating internal components with sludge. These gum-like deposits block lubrication passages, reduce heat transfer and cause valve stiction. The oxidation process diminishes foaming resistance and air release properties of the oil, which in turn causes damage through aeration and gaseous cavitation.
By the time I got involved, the original set of pumps had already failed and the hydraulic fluid had a TAN of 10 and water content of 6,500 ppm. So I set about establishing the root cause of failure and instigating measures to ensure it didn't happen again.
It's not rocket science. But the problem for my client was the information they needed to prevent this maintenance disaster is not widely available. You won't find it in the machine manual and it's not taught in everyday, how-it-works, hydraulics classes.
As a consequence, most owners, operators, mechanics, technicians and engineers are clueless when it comes to proper maintenance of hydraulic equipment. It's not their fault - they just haven't been given the opportunity to learn.
The principles I applied and the procedures I put in place to prevent a reoccurrence of the failures described above, are the same ones I outline in Preventing Hydraulic Failures. Had my client had this information and applied it diligently at the outset, they could have saved more than 70 grand - and a lot of downtime and aggravation. It seems many of my colleagues, who've been around a while, would agree:
I just got your Fluid Power Mother Lode and began reading "Preventing Hydraulic Failures". I love your style of presenting information. You present things in simple, basic, easy to understand terms, instead of being overly technical as with most technical references.
I really enjoyed the section on lubrication and contamination and how it creates
unnecessary premature component failure. In my 33+ years of working in and teaching
hydraulics I've always known that improper lubrication and system contamination are
the two biggest hitters of premature component failures. I think your
"Preventing Hydraulic Failures" ebook is an excellent presentation of accurate
information. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who seriously wants to
maintain hydraulic systems to their utmost capacity."
Fluid Power Instructor
General Motors - Spring Hill Manufacturing
If any of this sounds self-serving, consider this. At under 50 bucks, this information is worth
a lot more to you than it is to me. If that's not immediately obvious to you, here's why. Like
everyone else on the supply side of this industry I make a hellava lot more from maintenance
failures than I do from failure prevention. My fee for sorting out the maintenance disaster
described above ran to five figures. And I get offered more of this type of work than I can
take on. I don't tell you this to brag, but to make the point that I really don't mind if
you sit on your hands. But understand the price of doing nothing is much, much higher than
getting hold of this information today.
And if you're located Down Under, I'll personally show you how to prevent
unnecessary failures, step-by-step, in a series of one-day,
Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention workshops I'm presenting around Australia in 2007.
So download the details, mark your calendar and plan to attend.
"This book has the potential to save many
organizations lots of m0ney. It should be on the bookshelf of every engineer, supervisor, planner and
technician that deals with hydraulic equipment... it's worth its weight in gold." Find out more
Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
Plant Maintenance Resource Center