April 8, 2008 

'Inside Hydraulics' Newsletter

1. Your hydraulic equipment: lean and mean
2. Mechatronics and what it means for hydraulics
3. Nail breakdowns - nail oil cleanliness
4. Content for your web site or e-zine
5. Help us spread the word
6. Tell us what you think


Your hydraulic equipment: lean and mean

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man how to fish, and you feed him for life."

You're probably familiar with this metaphor. A large part of what I'm about and what I've done over the past seven years: web sites created; books written; newsletters published; presentations delivered, is about teaching people how to fish - so they can feed themselves for life - in the context of hydraulics know-how at least.

Certainly, when it comes to hydraulics, if you're an accomplished 'fisherman' you'll never go hungry. Because there's loads of people out there who just want the 'fish'. They have neither the time nor inclination to learn how to 'fish' for themselves.

Nothing wrong with that. Our modern economies are built on productivity gained through specialization. We can go to work in the morning safe in the knowledge that there are professional fishermen at sea catching boat loads of the critters. So it's not necessary that we literally catch fish for ourselves. Although some of us still choose to do so.

These days more than ever, people in all businesses and professions - hydraulics users included - are time poor. And because of this they have little interest in learning how to 'fish' - metaphorically speaking. They just want the 'fish' - handed to them on a plate and cut-up into bite-sized pieces.

Elvis was famous for this. I'm not a dedicated fan, but I understand that when he ordered a steak, he insisted that it be cut-up into bite-sized pieces - and then be put back together again, so that when it was handed to him it still looked like a steak.

What's my point? Well if you're a significant user of hydraulic equipment and you're conscious of the fact that this equipment is costing you more than it should be - but you don't have the time to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle for yourself I'll hand you the 'fish'.

We (it'll be me or an experienced professional trained by me) will audit your hydraulic equipment, identify where the savings are and show you exactly how to realize these savings. And we'll guarantee the result.

I don't have all the details yet. Because I'm only going to do this if there's sufficient demand. So if you have decision-making responsibility for significant hydraulic assets (your current operating costs will need to be in excess of 25 grand per year) - and could be interested in a maintenance and reliability makeover that's done-for-you with guaranteed results, it's essential that you put your hand up and register your interest by completing this form.

After all, if you're not satisfied with your current situation and you don't have the time to learn how to do this for yourself, then the 'fish' - the done-for-you solution is your only logical option.

The Nice Things People Say

"If more hydraulics users had this information - us manufacturers would have less problems!" Find out more ...

Phil Serre
International Director of Training

2.   Mechatronics and what it means for hydraulics

Ray Hanley, one of our members who's actively involved in the International Fluid Power Society's Certification Programs, wrote me recently requesting my input on the subject of Mechatronics and what it means for hydraulics.

It seems the International Fluid Power Society is evaluating if and how they should be incorporating Mechatronics into their certification programs. And that's fair enough. Mechatronics is a buzz word at the moment and I see a lot of Universities and Vocational Colleges scrambling to teach it.

So what's the low down? Here's one definition:

Mechatronics is the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacture of products and processes.

So hydraulics (and pneumatics) are only a relatively small component of Mechatronics as a whole. But the current and expected growth in the integration of electronics with hydraulics in Mechatronic systems means:

  • The requirement for hydraulics specialists with advanced knowledge in the field is increasing.
  • Today's hydraulics professionals must have at least basic knowledge in the areas of closed-loop control, electronics, and computer technology.
  • Specialists in other areas, such as electronics and computer programming, must have enough knowledge in hydraulics to identify problems that require involvement of hydraulics specialists.
  • The proper design and functional success of a Mechatronic machine typically requires the effective cooperation of a number of different specialists.

The following account by Dr Marian Tumarkin, with whom I co-authored Advanced Hydraulic Control, effectively illustrates all of the above points:

It was Friday - and our final day of testing a complex Mechatronic machine featuring four closed-loop electro-hydraulic control systems. As usual, we were behind schedule. The following Monday the machine had to be dismantled and packed for delivery. Our testing team was comprised of top-class specialists: two mechanical engineers, two electronic engineers, a fluid power engineer, a computer programmer and several experienced technicians.

Suddenly, during one mode of operation, we were confronted with a strong high frequency sound. A passionate discussion followed. The mechanical engineers were convinced this was a mechanical vibration, and we should focus on looking for its source. I (the fluid power engineer on the team) argued it was self-oscillation - the result of instability in the closed-loop control system. For their part, the electronics engineers asserted that all main parameters were being monitored, and there was no indication of self-oscillation.

Under a great deal of pressure, our team leader sided with the mechanical engineers. The next 32 hours (nearly all weekend) were spent trying to eliminate the 'mechanical vibration': checking all possible mechanical contacts, reassembling the hinge on the main cylinder, lubricating moving parts, etc. But all our efforts were in vain. Eventually, the team leader agreed with my assessment of the problem. I spent 2 (two!) minutes disabling the D component in the electronic PID controller and, to everyone's astonishment, the problem was solved.

Editors note: If you'd like to understand how and why this solved the problem, read pages 192-202 of Advanced Hydraulic Control.

As the above story illustrates, the successful development of a Mechatronic machine requires the effective collaboration of specialists from multiple disciplines - who have at least some knowledge in related fields outside their specialty. These include: hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics and computer technology - including modelling and simulation.

"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.   Nail breakdowns - nail oil cleanliness

The findings of a three-year study of 117 mobile and industrial hydraulic machines to determine the correlation between fluid cleanliness and breakdown frequency, has shown that maintaining fluid cleanliness at ISO 4406 14/11 will result in a tenfold gain in the average time between breakdowns when compared with a fluid cleanliness level of 22/19. Hydraulic Oil Cleanliness explains how hydraulic fluid contamination damages hydraulic components and outlines methods for its effective control. 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 editor@hydraulicsupermarket.com 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 19 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: http://www.InsiderSecretsToHydraulics.com

5. Help us spread the word

If you've found our 'Inside Hydraulics' newsletter interesting and informative, then chances are you have a colleague who would too. Help spread the word about 'Inside Hydraulics' by forwarding this issue to a colleague. If they share your interest in hydraulics, then they will surely appreciate being told about this newsletter.

New subscribers can get the newsletter by completing the form at http://www.insidersecretstohydraulics.com

6. Tell us what you think

We would love to hear what you think of this issue of our 'Inside Hydraulics' newsletter. And of course, if you have any suggestions for future issues, please send us those too.

Just e-mail the editor at: newslettersuggestions@hydraulicsupermarket.com

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