Hydraulic equipment can be funny. It’s used in a wide variety of punishing applications and subjected to some of the most harsh conditions and work environments in the world and yet it can be, well, almost sensitive. In other words, it needs proper care, especially because of how badly it can be treated.
Having said that, it should come as no surprise that we see all kinds of used and abused hydraulic equipment come through our doors to be repaired. Often it’s brought in by a concerned customer who can’t understand why a particular piece of equipment failed after a relatively short time in service. Unfortunately, they’ve mistakenly believed that because hydraulic equipment can be a big, heavy, rugged piece of machinery, it doesn’t really require any special kind of attention. The result? Out-of-service equipment that ends up costing the company time, money, and even work opportunities. And just as often it turns out to be the same problems, over and over again:
- High contamination levels
- Wrong oil viscosity
- High temperature operation
- Faulty circuit protection
These are all conditions that can be avoided with a little proper maintenance. The alternative is hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in repairs and rebuilds.
Without proper maintenance, problems with hydraulic equipment will only get worse as the performance, sophistication, and operating pressures of hydraulic equipment continue to increase. Nowhere is this more true than with mobile hydraulic equipment, which is not only more expensive to fix, but it absolutely needs to be properly maintained on a regular basis to ensure maximum performance while minimizing operating costs.
So what are the most important things hydraulic equipment owners should do to properly maintain hydraulic equipment? Here are six vital tips:
- Maintain fluid cleanliness
- Maintain fluid temperature and viscosity within optimum operating limits
- Maintain hydraulic system settings with manufacturers’ specifications
- Schedule component change-outs before they fail
- Follow correct commissioning procedures
- Conduct failure analysis when something does go wrong (and it will)
Yes, conducting regular, proper maintenance of hydraulic equipment will cost a little time and money, but the penalties for not maintaining hydraulics are far more expensive.