Over 80% of hydraulic system failures occur due to contamination in the hydraulic fluid. You allow the hydraulic system to last longer and be cost effective when you can efficiently control the contamination level with a thorough fluid cleanliness program. An effective conditioning program should handle contamination and condition control, as well as monitor results with periodic sampling and analysis.
In an ideal world, we would have every single contaminant removed from the hydraulic fluid with the help of the perfect technology. Sadly, this isn’t a perfect world and we do have to account for the limitations possessed by the filtration technology and balance that out with cost when coming up with the contamination control technique right for us.
Today’s technological advancements allow us to clean fluids to the extent that it can be clean enough to avoid any system component failure. This is definitely possible if the component is yet to reach its life span. Fortunately, this goal is practical and can be achieved by setting the target cleanliness level based on all factors that affects how the particular hydraulic system works.
Cleanliness of the fluid is accurately stated by exact values as per the ISO Standard 4406, and depends on the results of a particle-counting procedure. In short, the cleanliness code is achieved by finding out how many particles of a fixed size are found within the sample. Describing the intricate details is certainly complicated and beyond the scope of this article.
Apt Level of Cleanliness
A systematic process is used to decide the appropriate level of cleanliness for any hydraulic system. Most filtration providers offer charts and guidelines to help identify the components in the system that is most sensitive to any contamination and defines the level of cleanliness needed to maximize the productive life of the system.
You would need to come up with a two-phase strategy once practical cleanliness goals have been set up. The first phase tackles contamination control, where you try to stop pollutants from getting into the fluids right from the beginning. In the second phase, you manage the contamination level by looking for means to remove any contaminants that somehow enter the system, before it causes any real damage to the system. Both these phases are equally essential and should be implemented to work together side by side.
Ways To Monitor Current Conditions Of The Fluid
You won’t be able to prevent or manage contamination if you don’t have an effective way to measure the actual condition of the fluids. This used to mean taking samples and shipping them off to a specialty lab, such as Eaton’s Internormen Fluid Analysis Service.
Over the last few years, many manufacturers have created effective portable systems that can do most of the analysis that these traditional labs were doing for them. However, there are still a few vital tests that only these laboratories can perform for the manufacturers. These new portable systems just changed the kinds of tests that need to be done at the lab, and reduced their reliance of these external laboratories.
These portable systems make it possible to perform scheduled sessions where they monitor the condition as opposed to just conduct periodic testing sessions. A program that monitors the condition makes it more feasible to make maintenance decisions in real time based on the actual state of the hydraulic fluids and other fluids.
You get significantly different results when you used condition monitoring as opposed to a conventional process or time-based preventive methods. A condition-based maintenance system aims to prevent equipment or system failure before it happens by preemptively replacing worn out components before they even stop working. This way they make sure that the system and equipment is working on full potential.
It is shown that the condition-based maintenance process can extend the productive life of the equipment by around 30-40% more than one that isn’t maintained well. Along with it, you also get economic benefits from the added uptime, having access to well-maintained equipment for use, and the lack of unscheduled maintenance interruptions.
Have Your Laboratory In A Suitcase
The core of any condition based maintenance program is the “laboratory in a suitcase” that it uses to find out the real-time fluid condition in the field. One such example is the Parker icountOS (IOS) condition monitoring system.
This program can work in pressure mode, suction mode, or even with traditional sampling bottles. This small sized machine can use the ISO 4406:1999 or NAS 1638 protocols to set the contamination classes. It can measure the dynamic viscosity in mpa, temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, and the water saturation. For a selected set of fluids, it can also measure the theoretical absolute water content in PPM. It can also measure relative dielectricity.
With a single measurement, users can get instant readings of both particulate contamination and fluid aging. The IOS is a completely self-contained laser detection particle counter. The IOS uses Parker’s proven laser detection technology, which delivers precise and repeatable results in real time detection down to 4 micron particle size.
Ideally, this system would help to make note of the condition of a new system, or a system that has been exposed to the atmosphere for maintenance purposes. It can also help with systems that have just undergone fluid replacement, therefore providing it with a baseline to compare future readings with. The system then gets re-tested from time to time according to a schedule set based on how the system operates and the recommended cleanliness level of the components that manufacturers deem important.
By being able to monitor hydraulic and other fluids in real time, now you can immediately diagnose component and seal wear, as well as decide how frequently one should change the filter and fluid more accurately. This has also made it more practical and easier to test and evaluate the operating cost and possible impact of the operational variables on the overall system performance.
Relying on a “Portable Conditioning Monitoring” system could be the difference between a system that fails prematurely and one that is effective and reliable from the start. With this process, you can test out the new fluids, verify the effectiveness of the filtration systems, the correct storage and transport of the fluids.
These devices take away the need to make restrictive choices that limits laboratory sampling. For instance, if only one sample can be sent to the laboratory – where should it come from? Should it be obtained from the pump outlet, reservoir, return line, or another place?
With traditional labs, doing a test on all these spots would become expensive. Ideally a professional would insist that samples be taken from all these areas. Fortunately these portable lab processes make them possible and easy to achieve. In most cases, it justifies its cost by providing you with a preemptive warming that could prevent major failure of the field.
In short, a portable system would still require routine maintenance to take place. It just makes them more cost effective and efficient. It will make it easier to predict and avoid the consequences of wear and tear within components. It reduces the need for detailed laboratory tests and dramatically reduce the chances of disastrous failures of the equipment and increases the efficiency of the equipment.