The Five Most Common Hydraulic Maintenance Mistakes
(and How to Fix Them)
Our field service technicians respond to service calls daily, and in nearly all cases, the root cause of the problem could have been avoided. Based on our long-term expertise in hydraulics we have created a complete guide on the most common maintenance mistakes that will save your business time and money as well as ensure your hydraulic systems are durable and run smoothly. Here is our list of top five most common hydraulic mistakes:
- Choosing the wrong oil
If the viscosity of your oil is too high, it won’t flow properly, and your system will overheat. On the contrary, if it’s too low, there won’t be sufficient lubrication. The viscosity changes with the temperature, so it’s a good idea to choose a lubricant with a high viscosity index (VI) so there is less change in viscosity when the temperature increases. Wear, rust and corrosion will occur. Always keep in mind that the viscosity of hydraulic oil plays a vital role in machine performance and service life.
Depending on the type of the hydraulic pump operated the following viscosity ranges are recommended:
- Vane pump - 14 to 160 centistokes (cSt)
- Piston pump - 15 to 160 cSt
- Internal gear pumps - up to 2,200 cSt
- External gear pumps - up to 300 cSt
To choose the correct oil take into account your climate conditions and the type of equipment used. The two universal oils for the cold weather regions like New England would be AW 32 and AW 46. They have the wide selection of viscosity grades which ensures that the optimum viscosity can be used for any hydraulic system operating temperature.
Hydraulic system overheating
We know that the fastest way to destroy an engine is by overheating it. The same rule applies to the hydraulic fluid, components, seals, and hoses. Viscosity and viscosity index of the oil as well the type of hydraulic components used in the system define the highest temperatures it can work without getting any damage. Don’t let your equipment overheat and choose hydraulic oil appropriate for your system’s operating temperature. Refer to the components’ user manuals and advise the licensed service technicians for the maximum operating temperatures.
To ensure the equipment is operating within the recommended range, there are some new, advanced maintenance tools available that make monitoring temperature easier than ever. For example, Parker’s SensoNODE Blue temperature sensor transmits temperature data through a wireless connection to an app on your phone. The app reflects the real-time data on system temperature and will alert you to fluctuations before they lead to catastrophe. Installation requires a quick coupling port to connect the sensor, so it is not at all difficult to implement.
Changing the oil based on hours in service vs.
Checking the actual condition of the oil
Remember that the degradation of the oil change and consumption of the additives are the only two conditions required for the oil change. You can save hundreds of dollars by not changing oil based solely on the number of hours operated.
Fluid management and contamination control particle detectors may become handy to determine the condition of the oil. One of the best ones the market, icountPD from Parker, provides independent monitoring of system contamination trends, early warning signs to prolong the fluid life and reduce machine downtime.
Not changing filters on time
Changing the filters infrequently could cause extensive damage to your hydraulic system and the components. You want to monitor any flow restrictions, or pressure drops located near the filter and change the filters as needed. It is recommended to avoid placing the filters in the pump inlet and drain lines from the housings of piston pumps and motors.
To automate the filter change process, you can utilize "smart" system pressure sensors. One of them, Parker’s SensoNODE pressure sensor is available in a variety of pressure ranges from 14.5 psi to 8700 psi and will provide the system pressure data to your phone, so you can be sure anywhere and anytime our system runs smoothly.
Not educating your staff
Every employee managing your hydraulic system should have substantial knowledge on how to use the best hydraulic equipment maintenance practices. When your staff members have the training and tools necessary to follow the newest trends for hydraulic system maintenance, they are less likely to commit mistakes that can lead to a system failure. Remember that educating your employees could save you thousands of dollars in repairs and ensure the safe working environment.
There are many more industry and system specific maintenance mistakes that can happen. Learning hydraulic system basics and following our maintenance list would be a great start for keeping your system operating flawlessly. However, don’t forget to schedule professional maintenance visits every one to two years to make sure there are no underlying issues. If you have any questions, would like to request an appointment with one of our experts or schedule a maintenance visit, we are here for you. Call us at 508-393-7660 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org