Manufacturer of Hydraulic Presses

Contamination in a hydraulic fluid system

September 18, 2014

Downtime costs money. Replacing damaged equipment can be even more expensive. Both are the direct result of contamination in a hydraulic fluid system. You can prevent the problem and save significant amounts of time, frustration and money by developing an effective maintenance program for your hydraulic equipment.

The function of hydraulic fluid
Hydraulic fluid is the bloodstream of equipment like a hydraulic press. It performs four major tasks. The first is to provide a medium for transferring energy. Second, it is lubricates all moving parts. The third function is to transfer heat and the fourth is to act as a seal for gaps between moving parts.

The fluid in hydraulic shop presses is critical for protecting expensive and intricate parts by providing the lubrication they need to stay undamaged. The fluid is thick and fills gaps between parts. The end result is less damage and less need to replace parts.

If the fluid is contaminated, it can’t successfully perform these tasks. Your equipment doesn’t work efficiently and eventually it becomes damaged. The solution is to prevent contamination and to catch it early, before it has a chance to cause major problems. To do this, you need to initiate a program of regularly scheduled maintenance on your hydraulic fluid systems.

Though it takes time and manpower, the result is significantly increased usable life for your hydraulic machinery. Anyone with a C frame press or H frame press is aware how costly it is to replace this type of equipment. Scheduled maintenance is the cost-effective alternative.

Contamination in several forms

Contamination can be from particles in the fluid or from water. Both cause major problems and need to be prevented.

Particulate contamination has two forms:

• Slit, which are microscopic particles that build up gradually. Eventually the entire piece of machinery will show the effects and require repair or replacement.
• Chips, which are slightly larger particles than slit. They cause damage that is seen immediately.

Particulate contaminants are labeled either hard or soft. Hard refers to silica, metal or carbon. Soft includes rubber, microorganisms or fibers.

Though it seems odd that water would be considered a contaminant, the fact is that water and hydraulic fluid simply don’t mix well. Water can be emulsified or in a free state. Either can cause problems that require expensive repair jobs.

Avoiding contamination
According to manufacturers like RK Machinery, particulate contaminants can be avoided by following these helpful tips:

• protect machinery with spin-on filters that fit the air breathers on the reservoir
• flush the system regularly
• replace seals and wipers on a regular schedule
• cap hoses and manifolds for protection during maintenance
• filter all new fluid before it is put into the system

The best way to prevent water contamination is by checking seals and replacing them as soon as problems are noted. Reservoirs need to be monitored for signs of leaks. Avoid the buildup of water by controlling condensation. Check heat exchangers in order to find early indicators of leaks.

A maintenance routine that inspects and repairs the hydraulic fluid system on a routine basis will add many years of life to your expensive equipment. Because you will have less downtime and fewer repair calls, you will save money in the long run.