Hydraulics At Work
The Hydraulic MAINTENANCE Imperative

The Hydraulic MAINTENANCE Imperative

Since 2002 I've received a LOT of feedback from my Newsletter and blog readers. One question that pops up regularly is: "Why do you give away so much valuable information in your Newsletters and on your web sites?"

Well, I've spent the better part of 27 years working in and running hydraulic repair shops i.e. rebuilding hydraulic components. During this time I kept seeing the same pattern:

  • Failed hydraulic component comes into shop along with concerned customer who wants to know why it has failed after a relatively short time in service.
  • Based on what I saw after tear-down, I would explain the cause of failure - for example, high contamination levels, wrong oil viscosity, high temperature operation, cavitation, faulty circuit protection devices and so on.
  • Customer leaves thousands of dollars poorer with rebuilt component and a hard-learned lesson on hydraulic equipment maintenance.

For as long as there are hydraulic equipment owners, mechanics and maintenance people out there who believe that hydraulics don't require any special kind of attention, this cycle will continue. In an effort to bridge the knowledge gap on what needs to be done to get maximum life from hydraulic components, I've written Insider Secrets to Hydraulics, Preventing Hydraulic Failures and The Hydraulic Maintenance Handbook.

Over the past 35 years, the performance, sophistication and operating pressures of hydraulic equipment have increased significantly. This is particularly true in the case of mobile hydraulic equipment. As a result, modern hydraulic equipment is not only more expensive to fix when it breaks, proactive maintenance is essential to maximize service life and minimize operating costs. It's not realistic to expect (as many equipment owners do) to run a hydraulic machine for 10,000 hours, without checking anything more than the fluid level, and not have any problems.

Six routines must be followed in order to minimize the chances of your hydraulic equipment suffering costly, premature component failures and unscheduled downtime:

  1. Maintain fluid cleanliness;
  2. Maintain fluid temperature and viscosity within optimum limits;
  3. Maintain hydraulic system settings to manufacturers' specifications;
  4. Schedule component change-outs before they fail;
  5. Follow correct commissioning procedures; and
  6. Conduct failure analysis.

An effective, proactive maintenance program requires time, effort and some expense to implement. But it is cost-effective. The investment is quickly recovered through savings as a result of improved machine performance, increased component life, increased fluid life, reduced downtime and fewer repairs.

So if you own, operate or maintain hydraulic equipment, are serious about minimizing your running costs and your current maintenance practices are unsophisticated or non-existent, start implementing a proactive maintenance program today. And reading "6 Costly Mistakes Most Hydraulics Users Make and How YOU Can Avoid Them" is a great place to start.

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