Preventive maintenance of hydraulic equipment

What preventive actions can be applied to hydraulic equipment and systems to improve their performance?

Hydraulic circuits are increasingly present on current equipment and are now part of the daily routine of maintenance teams. By their very nature, hydraulic equipment, which have also undergone many improvements in recent years, require specific monitoring methods and good practices, which must be monitored to ensure the safety of the operator and avoid potential breakdowns. These equipment represent risk for operators, particularly pressure hydraulic liquid, and are increasingly complex. The main causes of accidents caused by hydraulic fluids under pressure are related to maintenance defects, oil leaks, a rupture of a circuit element or the irregular movement of a component of the piece of equipment.

In order to maintain the piece of equipment in its intended function without damage to itself or its environment, and to optimize the safety of its operation, it is preferable to apply a preventive maintenance strategy. Suitable for all types of installations (electrical, mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic), preventive maintenance ensures the company better reliability and machine availability and, as a result, better overall performance. Some regular little time-consuming planned actions make it possible to increase efficiency and avoid downtime. We therefore propose that you review some good first-level maintenance practices to be implemented and precautions to be taken into account when working on hydraulic equipment.

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Reminder: preventive maintenance

The purpose of preventive maintenance is to reduce downtime by carrying out "planned" maintenance operations, triggered according to different criteria or according to the state of the piece of equipment (conditional maintenance). These maintenance operations can be scheduled and controlled in a CMMS software (Computerized maintenance management system), which provides complete monitoring of preventive maintenance operations.

Thanks to the calendar available in next-gen CMMS solutions such as Mobility Work, it is possible to plan operations according to time criteria (daily, weekly, monthly or annual revisions) or follow-up values (meter readings, etc.). This planning allows the maintenance team to trigger alerts and maintenance operations, then to report on them once the intervention has been carried out, using checklists or intervention reports: completion time, a photo of the state of the element concerned, etc. A correct and exhaustive entry of information will allow you to obtain a more detailed analysis of your preventive measures and thus better manage your maintenance service.

 

8 daily verification tasks

Daily checks can be performed on a daily basis on your hydraulic equipment. As 1st level maintenance, they can be performed by a maintenance technician or a production operator, and planned in your CMMS software. Among these various checks, we can mention:

  • Checking the oil level in the tank

If the level is too low, you must add oil to obtain the expected level. The value of the level before the operation and the oil value can be entered in the "counter" menu of your CMMS software.

  • Checking the appearance of the oil

Foaming on the oil indicates the presence of air on the pump seal or suction line connection, and can be detected by loud sound during pump operation or random malfunction of the receivers. If the oil is cloudy, it means that it contains water. The condition of the oil can be indicated by the maintenance technician by integrating a photo of the oil into the activity report in the CMMS software.

  • Checking the clogging of the filters by looking at the clogging indicators

This operation can also be entered in the CMMS and used to determine the condition of the filter.

  • Checking the oil temperature

A significant temperature variation in the heat exchanger indicates an anomaly on the hydraulic system (failure to supply the cooling fluid or thermostatic valve). This value can also be entered in the CMMS, directly in front of the equipment, thanks to the mobile version.

  • Checking the temperature of the hydraulic unit

An temperature increase of the pump or motor indicates a problem with the equipment or a misalignment.

  • Checking operating pressures

  • Checking the tightness and maintaining the cleanliness of the piece of equipment

This basic maintenance action makes it possible to detect any leak.

  • Checking the noise level

In the event of unusual noise, Mobility Work CMMS makes it possible to record the sound and integrate it directly into the activity report

 

6 weekly maintenance operations

Weekly actions are maintenance operations that must be planned in your CMMS software and performed weekly by maintenance technicians or production operators. These operations are, like daily checks, considered as 1st level maintenance operations.

  • Leak test of all operating inaccessible pipes

In the event of a problem, it is recommended to directly replace the degraded element, then to enter this operation into the CMMS by integrating a photo of the defective element.

  • Repair of leaks detected during daily visits

Do not tighten your piping too much, it is better to replace the component directly. The elements likely to cause leakage are seals, rings and flanges.

  • Cleaning filters

To ensure effective cleaning, connect to your CMMS software and consult the hydraulic component manufacturer's documentation. Check the elastic couplings between the pump and the motor.

  • Checking the accumulators’ inflation pressure

The level of contamination of the hydraulic fluid has to be checked by taking a sample from the tank. It is important to register the number of operating hours associated with the sample in the activity report of your CMMS software in the "counter" menu.

 

6 precautions to be taken before putting into service your hydraulic equipment

Before putting into service your hydraulic equipment, several precautions must be taken to ensure the proper operation of your hydraulic equipment and the people’s safety:

  • Check the oil level in the tank,

    • Check that the isolation valves are open

    • Change the pump oil

    • Check the safety of equipment and staff when putting the piece of equipment into service

  • Check the direction of the pump’s rotation

  • Total clean-up the system to help initiate the pump and remove air from the system

  • Perform a running-in period of the installation at low pressure in order to carry out a final cleaning of the system

  • Set the pressure valves to the lowest possible values

  • Check that the pressure gauge indicates zero

The starting range of your hydraulic equipment can be configured in a checklist saved in your CMMS software. Thus, each time a hydraulic system is put into service, the technician must be equipped with the checklist and validate each point, which will ensure a safe start for your machine.

 

To sum up, good preventive maintenance management of your hydraulic equipment requires good planning and, above all, an up-to-date report on the maintenance operations carried out. Each maintenance activity meant to monitor hydraulic system must therefore measure the oil temperature and pressure, the noise level of the piece of equipment and the amplitude of mechanical vibrations.

As Excel files and traditional CMMS software have already proven their limitations in the past, a solution such as Mobility Work, the next-gen maintenance management platform, allows you to carry out an efficient and frequent preventive maintenance routine, while creating an analysis base and a history that will be essential for your future decisions within the maintenance department. Nowadays, these solutions are within the reach of all companies thanks to their attractive pricing and ease of deployment, and include all the features mentioned above. Digitize your maintenance service and take advantage of the power of the Mobility Work community to maintain your hydraulic installations!

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