December 5, 2007 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. Hydraulics "road warrior" calls it quits
2. Confessions of an OEM insider
3. Read hydraulic schematics - like an expert
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


Hydraulics "road warrior" calls it quits

As I write this, I'm sitting on a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747. We left Detroit a couple of hours ago - headed for Tokyo, Japan - a destination that's still about 12 hours away.

We're flying in daylight, but I have no idea what time zone I'm in - or on. Some of the passengers around me are trying to sleep. I've always envied people who can sleep sitting-up - something I've never been able to do. And since sleeping is not an option for me, I plan to work - until fatigue takes over.

It looks like the 'hosties' are getting ready to serve a meal. A welcome distraction - provided it's worth eating. As I'm sure you'd agree, airline food is like spring weather - you never know quite what you're going to get on any given day.

On Monday I presented a Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Workshop in Cleveland - the fifth this year. And even though these seminars have been a great success, I have no plans to do another.

Why? Well as much as I enjoy presenting my time-tested and proven 'blueprint' for reducing hydraulic equipment operating costs to a room full of people, the truth is I don't travel very well these days.

Being able to share my knowledge is a pleasure and a privilege. But the travelling is a real chore.

And because only a very small percentage of the 29,831 hydraulics users from all over the world who read this newsletter could possibly attend one of these live events - and chances are you weren't one of them - I figured there must be a better way to make this knowledge available to everyone who needs it.

So I had the event recorded and burnt onto 4 DVDs you can watch at your leisure and in the comfort of your own home or office. If you're responsible for any hydraulic equipment at all, this is one 'movie' you can't afford to miss.

If you're at all interested - and you should be - I urge you to check it out today:

The Nice Things People Say ...

"This is a great workshop ... Even with my 20+ years experience in the hydraulics industry I was able to take away a bucket full of ideas I can put into practice tomorrow." Find out more ...

Kevin McCaffrey
Excel Hydraulics

2.   Confessions of an OEM insider

In Issue #64 I suggested hydraulic equipment users should get smart and lift their game when dealing with equipment manufacturers - by specifying up front what they expect from their equipment - from a maintenance and reliability perspective.

This article generated a lot of mail and I was, among other things, accused of "OEM bashing". But then I received this message from an OEM insider:

"It is rare to see a manufacturer truly interested in the bottom line of "cost per unit loaded" in the case of a hydraulic excavator or shovel.

With one hydraulic excavator OEM we insisted on double hydraulic coolers and enlargement of the hydraulic tank. The idea was rejected and we received more than one detailed letter from Sales and Engineering why this was not necessary and a waste of good money.

In addition we also received a letter from the VP of Marketing advising that in addition to all the technical reasons we had been offered, if they were to do as we had requested, our machine would look ugly and sales would be more difficult.

Anyway, in the end money talks and we waited for our best chance which came along in the form of an order for three units in the 300 ton class of excavator. So many millions of dollars and we went to visit the OEM with the order in hand.

Quite easy... you want the order, you will make following changes. Not just for this order but for all machines coming our way in the future.

Yes, of course it went our way and the changes made huge differences to the life of hydraulic components. The changes even became standard issue some time later due to word of mouth between users.

Why did we demand more cooling and more time for the oil to spend in the tank?

Because we saw a lot of high temperature damage and signs in pumps that indicated aeration. Believe it or not, we soon saw main pumps achieving 20,000 operating hours repeatedly on the modified machines where previously the OEM appeared to be satisfied to get 12 to 15 thousand hours.

However, it is this attitude at the OEM that you have pointed out that gets them into a BOAT load of trouble.

Some examples:

We need an electric power source for a mobile excavator. The OEM chooses a manufacturer, looks through his available motors and orders what they believe will do the job. Result - repeated failures, millions of dollars spent on trying to rectify the situation. Finally after years of two OEM's blaming each other we stepped in and made the following agreement:

Give the motor manufacturer ALL the required criteria including G- forces, vibration analysis, shock loading and every thread of information we had gathered. Take this to the motor designer and say, sell us a motor that will run 30,000 hours under these conditions and in this environment with next to no maintenance requirement other than a spot of grease every 1000 operating hours.

Guess what - we got what we wanted. Sure it cost more. But the big picture was: No downtime due to the power source and no money spent on warranty, air freight, technicians visiting site and offering a bunch of lies to protect their employer.

Same thing on diesel engines. Why is it that these same OEM's employ engineers that are too damn proud to listen to experts in their field. Same OEM discussed above obtains the manuals from diesel engine manufacturers, chooses the engine for a particular model and places the order for that engine without ever obtaining a dime's worth of input from the engine manufacturer.

So we ended up with machines in the field that were under powered, over taxed with duty cycles in the mid 90's and life expectancy between rebuilds under 10,000 hours.

All this could be avoided if the OEM visits the engine manufacturer, lays out the requirement and lets the engine manufacturer select which model to go with. Yes, if you don't speak the same language take a couple of independent translators with you. But hell, communicate.

Yes, the customer should take every opportunity to use his experience and get the machine equipped the way it serves him best. Some astute OEMs might even get over their own people's pride and enhance their product by learning from the knowledge that is available from outsider's experience."

Hmmm ... Of course, not all OEMs are like this. And to err is human. But I see a lot of end users who put the OEM on a pedestal. The logic seems to be: They built the machine, they must know best - so we better do what they tell us. And yet these same end users whine on the other side of their face about how much the machine costs to run.

There are two sides to every story and so I don't get accused of "OEM bashing" again, here's a view of the world from an OEM's perspective, sent in by another of our members:

"For the last 13 years I was technical manager for a major hydraulic equipment manufacturer. And I KNOW there's a SHOCKING amount of IGNORANCE in the field of hydraulics: oil sampling, oil viscosity, filtration, component change-out schedules and cooling systems are often blatantly ignored or misunderstood and the dealer is then put under pressure for warranties."

As neither an OEM nor an end user, I've seen both sides of this coin first hand and from somewhere in the middle. And I can assure you there's PLENTY of room for improvement in both camps.

"Thanks for the great work on the two publications, Insider Secrets to Hydraulics and Preventing Hydraulic Failures. I have been in the hydraulics business for the past 20 years and it's very difficult to find any decent material on hydraulic maintenance, troubleshooting and failure analysis. These two books cover it all in easy to understand language... I conduct hydraulic training courses and plan to purchase copies to distribute to my students to share your practical approach to understanding a not so understandable subject."

Paul W. Craven, Certified Fluid Power Specialist
Motion Industries, Inc.

3.   Read hydraulic schematics - like an expert

A schematic diagram is a 'road map' of the hydraulic system. The ability to read and interpret one can save a lot of time and effort when troubleshooting hydraulic problems. How to Read Hydraulic Schematics was developed by JI Case to teach their technicians how to read and understand hydraulic circuit diagrams. Find out more

4. Content for your web site or e-zine

Need some fresh content for your web site or e-zine? You now have permission to reprint these 'Inside Hydraulics' articles on your web site or in your e-zine, provided:

1. Each article is printed in its full form with no changes.

2. You send an e-mail to to advise us where you'll be publishing them.

3. You include the following acknowledgement at the end of each article:
About the Author: Brendan Casey has more than 17 years experience in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of mobile and industrial hydraulic equipment. For more information on reducing the operating cost and increasing the uptime of your hydraulic equipment, visit his web site:

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