12 Dec

Importance of Fluid Cleanliness in Hydraulic Systems

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao


Image source: ExxonMobil

Fluid cleanliness is of primary importance to hydraulic systems because the risks associated with contaminants vary: from parts malfunction to wear and tear in components, to longer response times of your system’s key parts, valves to cite an example, among many others.

Fluids can be classified as petroleum-based (mostly used in shipboard systems), synthetic fire-resistant or water-based fire-resistant. Some of the most commonly used fluids are the following:

  • Multi-grade engine oil – can reduce power consumption in specific conditions
  • Detergent oil – can emulsify water and break up and suspend other contaminants such as varnish and sludge
  • Anti-+wear hydraulic oil – maintains lubrication under boundary conditions

There are various ways to clean the fluid, which may include employing stringent cleanliness requirements or filtering all fluid added to the hydraulic system. Below are some tips to help you manage filtration in your hydraulic systems:

  1. Make sure to pre-filter new oil before you fill the machine or the system reservoir. The risk of foregoing this stage can lead to early component and pump failure as well as premature filter clogging.
  2. Understand first the requirements of your system and refer to the supplier’s recommended cleanliness levels for longer machine life. In some cases, if the level is not achieved, the warranty for the equipment may be voided.
  3. Use easily accessible filter systems so you can easily separate and identify parts, if necessary.
  4. Establish and observe a regular fluid sampling plan to ensure that filters are replaced on time.
  5. Keep a good stock of your oil inventory. There should always be enough to manage all your fluid needs.
  6. Use the right and standardized fluid for your system. Avoid switching brands to maintain the quality of your fluid.
  7. Do not openly expose hydraulic fluid containers or reservoirs to prevent or minimize contamination.
  8. Fix fluid leaks immediately. Prolonging it will allow dirt to enter your system.

Avoid the huge financial burden associated with contaminated fluid. Being able to identify fluid contamination issues can lower your company’s operating costs and improve the efficiency of your systems in the process.

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