Hydraulic equipment reliability - begin with the end in mind

During a recent Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Blueprint seminar, one of the attendees, a maintenance manager for a large open-cut mining operation, mentioned that he was considering upgrading the filtration on their fleet of hydraulic mining shovels - to achieve a higher level of fluid cleanliness.

There's lots of documented evidence to suggest that increasing hydraulic fluid cleanliness increases the service life of hydraulic components - all other things equal. Whether such an initiative would yield an acceptable return on the investment required, for the machines in question depends on a number of variables, which I don't have room to go into here. But this got me thinking about a bigger issue.

The maintenance routines I teach in my books and Workshops are about equipping people with the knowledge the need today to optimize the reliability and service life of the hydraulic equipment they have right now. And that's fair enough - it's rarely helpful and not very instructive to tell someone what they should have done yesterday. With this is mind, one of the exercises we do during my one-day Workshop is carry out a maintenance and reliability audit on an existing hydraulic machine.

Even though equipment design and equipment maintenance are often viewed in isolation, the reality is, certain aspects of hydraulic machine design have a significant impact on the machine's operating cost and reliability, and ultimately, its life-of-machine cost.

Over lunch, the same maintenance manager mentioned that his mine is starting to think about the replacement of their aging fleet of hydraulic shovels. And it occurred to me, the best time to carry out a maintenance and reliability audit on a piece of hydraulic equipment is BEFORE you buy it.

By starting with the end in mind, you get the maintenance and reliability outcomes you desire - before the machine even gets delivered. For example:

You specify the contamination control targets you want to achieve based on your reliability objectives for the piece of equipment. And instruct the manufacturer to deliver the machine appropriately equipped to achieve these targets.

Based on the weight and viscosity index of the hydraulic oil you plan to use, you determine the minimum viscosity and therefore the maximum temperature you want the machine to run at. And instruct the manufacturer to deliver the machine equipped with the necessary cooling capacity, based on ambient temperatures at your location. Rather than accepting hydraulic system operating temperatures dictated by the machine's 'design' cooling capacity - as is the norm.

If you don't think the viscosity/temperature issue is this important - you're mistaken. Lubrication failure resulting from low fluid viscosity is one of the biggest causes of premature failure in hydraulic components. If you're not on top of this issue it could be costing you big.

And we could continue by specifying things like flooded inlet for all pumps and so on. But you get the idea.

So the next time you or the company you work for are looking to acquire hydraulic equipment, begin with the end in mind. Define your maintenance and reliability objectives in advance and make them an integral part of your equipment selection process.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love Brendan Casey's Inside Hydraulics newsletter. It gives you real-life, how-to-do-it, nuts-and-bolts, hydraulics know-how ? information you can use today. Listen to what a few of his subscribers have to say:

Can't Put It Down
?I get magazines and e-mails like this all the time. I never find time to read them. I decided to read Issue #30 and I couldn't put it down. I'll make time from now on.?

Richard A. Shade, CFPS
Project Engineer (Hydraulic Design)
JLG Industries Inc.

So Valuable It Earned Me A Raise
?The knowledge I've gained from this newsletter has been so valuable it has earned me a raise!?

Jack Bergstrom
Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Sharpe Equipment Inc.

Love It - Keep Them Coming
?I just love this newsletter. As a Hydraulics Instructor for Eaton, I make copies and distribute them to my students as I address various topics... Keep 'em coming.?

Michael S Lawrence
Hydraulics Instructor
Eaton Hydraulics Inc.

Here's a sample of what's covered in this powerful newsletter: troubleshooting, contamination control, component repair and testing, preventative maintenance, failure analysis, and much, much more!

To get a FREE subscription to the Inside Hydraulics newsletter, fill out this form - don't forget to capitalize the first letter of your name - and hit 'SUBSCRIBE NOW!'

First Name *
Email *

This is a private mailing list that will never be sold or given away for any reason.
You can also unsubscribe at anytime.


Copyright © 2002 - 2013 Brendan Casey; Insider Secrets to Hydraulics