By Dez Duran-Lamanilao
It is a natural expectation for hydraulic systems to have leaks. Most systems are designed that way to allow a fluid from a higher pressurized area to travel into a lower pressurized zone. The most common purposes for such are for the lubrication, cleaning and cooling of a specific area or component.
The effects of a hydraulic system leakage are vast, which include inefficient machinery operation, environmental damage, machine failure, and increased capital costs, thus the importance of leak detection. Leak detection is a process conducted following the production of a vacuum vessel to ensure that all possible leaks that were created during assembly and installation of the vessel are located.
There are various ways to prevent and manage unwanted leaks from hydraulic machines:
- Simplify the plumbing of your system by replacing line-mounted valves with one or more integrated hydraulic circuits (IHCs), including manifolds and cartridge and stack valves. Each IHC has its own pump to push the fluid through the consumer.
- Implement a vertical valve stack. This can improve the flexibility of the circuit to combine various options and functions. Stack valves can reduce the number of potential leakage points in the system.
- Use reliable connectors.
- Eliminate vibrations so as not to stress conductors, cause fatigue and negatively impact connector torque.
- Carefully plan the machine sealing design and seal selection by considering fluid and seal compatibility, operating temperatures, flow rates, and many other factors
- Monitor as well the hydraulic lubricant systems. Find out if there are abnormalities in viscosity, water content and wear levels.
- Conduct a regular maintenance program. Consider strictly implementing this process as this can not only prevent future leaks but can also pave the way for determining your ship’s other problems that may not initially be visible from the outside.