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5 Ways To (Safely) Troubleshoot Your Hydraulic Equipment

Machines break and malfunction all the time. We’ve all seen situations where the machine’s problem was so simple and detectable that an expensive assistance call to troubleshoot a loose phase wire or a clogged fuel filter could have easily been avoided.

However, inherent danger exists in any energy-transmitting system. Failures in fluid power systems are more prevalent than those in electrical systems and the common effects of hydraulic failures to people are lacerations, burns, fluid injection injuries and other serious injuries which occasionally result in death. Hydraulic failures can also result in a supported load falling, other property and equipment damage and environmental damage.

The best practice in any troubleshooting process is checking simple things, even when they aren't the most probable cause of the malfunction. Why? Because they are simple, and therefore easily and promptly doable. If you are an equipment owner it can save you money, and if you are a "troubleshooter" it can save you time.

To safely troubleshoot your hydraulic equipment, we suggest measuring the following 5 parameters:

  1. Pressure. Often it is necessary to read pressures in multiple points at the same time.
  2. Flow. If a system can't be diagnosed or adjusted with pressure readings alone, you'll need to take out your flow-measuring gear.
  3. Current and Voltage. Since it's rarely "just the oil" these days. For example, when a solenoid current or voltage needs to be measured in order to confirm if a component is behaving properly, or an industrial analogue signal (e.g. 4...20 ma) must be checked to verify if the input is correct.
  4. Temperature. This is an important one as an incorrect temperature is a red flag for a malfunction in a hydraulic system.
  5. Speed. Depending on the equipment it can be hydraulic motor or prime mover rotation speed, linear actuator speed, actual speed of a vehicle, also cycles per minute, tons per hour, etc.

 

When should you seek professional assistance? The maintenance and repair of equipment fitted with hydraulic systems is extremely hazardous to the personnel involved in the work and also to everyone in the vicinity of the equipment. Maintenance and repair personnel are required to carry out procedures that expose them to high levels of risk of injury or death due to inherent hydraulic system safety hazards. Many incidents of injury to people are a result of them working on hydraulic systems and not understanding the safety hazards associated with the work. If in any doubt, always err on the side of caution.

At Hydraulic Distributors our team are always happy to assist with servicing your hydraulic equipment. From complete in-house hydraulic system designs and controls to installation, hydraulic supplies to commercial hydraulics repairs, testing and maintenance. Click here to contact us.

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