Maintaining oil cleanliness impacts the uptime of a hydraulic system more than any other preventive maintenance measure. Contaminated oil leads to extended downtime at best and major system failure if corrective actions are not taken.
Many basic hydraulic systems run efficiently with simple return-line filtration circuits which use 10-micron filters. Higher performance systems with proportional or servo valves require an advanced filtration system together with in-line pressure and return-line filters. The type of system and required cleanliness should be specified by the manufacturer, and specific information on preventive maintenance should be followed closely in order to maximize uptime.
Oil Sample Analysis
Taking oil samples for analysis to a reputable lab is an excellent proactive tool for ensuring a system’s oil condition is favorable for the prevention of both downtime and component failure. Sample kits are available from your oil supplier, your local hydraulic filter distributor, or your hydraulic press manufacturer. In most cases, the kits simply consist of a plastic bottle which is used to contain your fluid for analysis. The cost of the kit usually includes the cost of the analysis.
A sample analysis report should provide the following information regarding the condition of the oil:
- Particle Levels: ISO codes for the level of particulate found in the oil will be provided. This ISO code should be reviewed against the type of components used on the press system to ensure the oil is clean enough for the most sensitive components. The particulate levels become extremely important in servo or proportional valve systems, but more basic systems are negatively impacted by particulates as well.
- Water Content: Perhaps more damaging than particulates, high water content can accelerate the effects of particulates through corrosion. Most pumps use the hydraulic fluid in the system to lubricate bearings. Traditionally, just .05% water content is enough to reduce bearing life by 50%, according to a study by Timken Bearing. Oil sample analyses identify actual water content within the system, allowing for corrective measures to be taken before major damage is incurred.
- Particulate Content: Quality sample reports also offer details on the particulates’ make-up. If given the brand and type of fluid in the system, the analysis can compare the wear metal additives of the oil to a base-line sample from the oil manufacturer. In addition to ensuring the condition of the oil additives, the particulate make-up can offer insight on which components might be showing signs of excessive wear.
‘Heartbeat’ On-Board Particle Detectors
In addition to Oil Sample Analysis kits, alternative, advanced technologies are available to prevent issues caused by contaminated oil. One such technology offered by Beckwood is the ‘Heartbeat’ Online Fluid Health Monitor. This Heartbeat system, which offers ‘Pre-Preventive Maintenance,’ can be integrated into Beckwood’s control system to facilitate constant fluid health monitoring.
Particulate count, water content, and fluid temperature are actively monitored through the Heartbeat system. The measurements taken are automatically referenced against a database of factory pre-sets, generating early-warning alerts when any aspect of the fluid health becomes unacceptable. Systems can even be set to generate automatic email notifications, alerting facility maintenance or management personnel when fluid health begins to deteriorate, allowing for machine service to be scheduled in advance, thereby minimizing unplanned downtime.