Often Overlooked Hydraulic System Diagnostics

One of the often overlooked elements of hydraulic system design and implementation is the gathering of system diagnostic information.  This can help identify any flaws or shortcomings in the system design details and also help to protect the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) from unfounded warranty claims, as well as aiding with predictive maintenance plans and system life expectancy.  There are several key factors that should be included in the evaluation of any new system: system and component level operating pressures (often the design calls for an overall system operating pressure and then reduced or stepped down pressures for various individual functions of the system), fluid flow rate, fluid cleanliness and fluid operating temperatures.

There are several very useful field systems that make it very simple to gather this information.  However, it does require design consideration to install instrumentation connection points in the system (see EMA3 catalog page attached for reference).  Breaking into an existing system to install these types of connection points can be very difficult and messy.  However, if designed in it is quite easy and efficient to gather the required information and record it into graphs and charts that are very informative.  Connection to the test fittings using pressure transducers (these types of transducers also measure temperature) is the most common and effective way to gather system performance information.  A data recording device like the ServiceMaster Plus (See attached for reference) is a very rugged and convenient field device.  It will accept multiple inputs so several functions can be recorded and overlaid onto each other to provide the full picture of what happened in the system during the operational cycle.  This information can then be downloaded to a PC for graphing and presentation, as well as providing a serialized record of the system performance for warranty purposes.

There are now other options for sensors that still require consideration for connecting them into the system, but they operate wirelessly and link to an app on your phone or tablet for gathering the same information.  These are very helpful in situations where the connection point to the hydraulic system is either inaccessible or in a location that would make it unsafe for someone to be standing nearby with a hardwired device.

This process does require a bit of extra time and money at the beginning but can prove to be extremely helpful in identifying asystem performance problem or documenting the proper functioning of the system before it leaves the factory.  It is a small price to pay for a lot of very good information that can help ensure a long-lasting, properly performing hydraulic system for many years to come.

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