Seriously... How Clean Is Your Oil?
Not to be misconstrued as Kim & Aggie's next TV show...
When a hydraulic system packs up, the first assumption usually is that one of the parts has failed; with the likes of a burst hose this is easy to tell but on a gear pump or similar, the reason might not be so obvious until you open it up and give it a bit of an autopsy. You'd probably put it down to the part not being up to the task, but what if it wasn't that component's fault? According to the National Fluid Power Centre, between 70-90% of hydraulic system failures are caused by poor fluid condition. Much like your own body, if you drink a lot of water then you will most likely tick along fine and be well hydrated (the only downside is you may need to go to the toilet more!); if you drink nothing but burger grease, for an albeit strange example, then you'll most likely notice your body begins to dislike you and start acting up... Transfer that understanding back to your hydraulic system: how healthy is the oil flowing around your system's internals to its components?
"But it's come straight from the barrel!"
A brand new barrel of oil isn't a guarantee for a clean product however; there will still be a high probability of micro-sized contaminants floating around in the proverbial stew. These may not clog up the system as quick as bigger chunks but slowly and surely it'll start to cause issues over time. Different brands may have cleaner processes but the fact of the matter is you'll never get a completely particle-free oil. Another process for elimination is to disregard the very first paragraph somewhat and consider the wear and tear on other parts within the system; for whatever reason one of the other components may be breaking down which consequentially is contaminating the oil with disintegrated parts of itself; these particles are now on a free ride to the next component within the chain!
"So what can I do?"
Well, it's recommended at regular intervals that you analyse your oil within your system; depending on the system you should be checking at least every 12 months, with more sensitive systems needing a check around the 3 month mark. Keeping on top of your oil checks will ensure and lengthen the lifespan of the entire hydraulic system and ultimately in the long run will save your company a lot of money... It is also imperative to your hydraulic system to have a decent level of filtration so if you do encounter issues with contaminated fluid, you have a fighting chance at curbing it. At the very least it is recommended to have a good filter in your oil resevoir and again, dependant on the sensitivity of your system, will benefit from tailored filtration to suit.
If you require any assistance with your hydraulic system, be it an oil analysis or specification of filters for it, contact our engineers either through our contact form or by calling 01626 259235 (option 2.)