By Josh Cosford, CFPHS
The Fluid Power House (Cambridge) Inc.
|Josh Cosford, CFPHS, The Fluid Power House (Cambridge) Inc. |
Stop, take a deep breath, look around and note where you were when you read this first issue of Fluid Power Tips. Now in 20 years when someone asks if you remember what you were doing when you read the inaugural issue, you'll be able to recall in an instant. Okay, so maybe I'm going overboard.
Honestly, I'm happy you've gotten this far. What you have in front of you is my new venue to connect with everyone in the fluid power industry. Whether you work for a mobile equipment OEM, a large manufacturing facility or a small auto repair shop, this column is your source for tips, advice and knowledge related to the fluid power industry.
If you're a maintenance supervisor at a manufacturing facility, I'll give you tips and advice on how to keep your hydraulic equipment running like the Energizer Bunny and ensure you get employee of the month for the eighth consecutive time (you're on number seven, right?). If you're an engineer designing fluid power … uh, powered equipment, then this will be a major source for information on how to create compact, reliable and efficient machines. My goal is to make these articles one of your primary sources by arming you with hydraulic and pneumatic firepower to ensure your product is the most powerful, most efficient, most profitable and most environmentally friendly.
Now, find a pen/pencil/writing utensil, because I'm about to divulge the number one tip on how to design and maintain the most reliable hydraulic equipment possible — Fluid Conditioning. There are so many ways in which the proper condition of your hydraulic fluid affects the performance, function and reliability of your hydraulic equipment that it won't all fit into just this one article.
Ensuring that you design, build or maintain your machines with fluid conditioning in mind is paramount. Clean and water-free fluid maintained at an appropriate temperature will ensure your machines run trouble free for your company, your customers and end users alike. Sure, I may be surprised at how long your log-splitter has split until its heart's content without ever seeing a change out of its paper filter element, but you would be surprised at how many $10,000 servo valves are ruined due to inadequate filtration.
Contamination of hydraulic fluid is by far the most common cause of hydraulic pump, valve and actuator failure. Most sources will peg the number at 70-90% of those failures being related to poor fluid condition. What you need to consider is the ratio of fluid conditioning investment cost compared to lost productivity and repairs. Factor in that Hair Club for Men membership for all your lost hair stressing about equipment incapacitation, and the costs skyrocket.
What would you rather have to deal with? Machine down time, expensive repairs and irate customers, or the sticker shock of proper filtration? In the coming months, I'll discuss various topics related to fluid power, and many will be about fluid condition. Be sure to check back each month as I discuss the effects of overheated hydraulic oil, Tier IV, predictive maintenance, and more.
Josh Cosford is a certified fluid power hydraulic specialist with The Fluid Power House (Cambridge) Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (519)-624-7109.