Hydraulic oil systems are one of the most important components of large machines and industrial equipment; this is because it is up to them to promote lubrication and the transmission of force for the movement of internal parts. Thus, its maintenance is fundamental for the good condition and the effective performance of all machinery.
According to experts, contamination of the hydraulic oil system and equipment lubricants represents the main hydraulic failure in the industries. Contamination of hydraulic oil is a serious problem, which evolves gradually and causes compromised equipment life, more frequent changes of parts and fluids, higher maintenance costs and even the complete stoppage of the operation line. Next, we will discuss where hydraulic oil contamination comes from.
Where does hydraulic oil contamination come from?
Even before the occurrence of a general failure, contaminating agents in the fluids can reduce the efficiency of the system, causing loss of productivity. It is a slow and gradual process, in which the loss of efficiency can go unnoticed in many cases. In contaminated hydraulic systems, for example, there can be a loss of efficiency of up to 20% before the operator notices the problem, which would represent one day of wasted productivity per week.
Generally, we pay more attention to contaminating agents visible to the naked eye, easily eliminated in manual cleaning. However, in today’s hydraulic systems, cycle times and clearances between internal metal surfaces are shorter, while digging pressure, power and force are greater. All of these aspects made today’s equipment more productive and easier to operate; however, it is still required to clean fluid systems more frequently over the life of the product.
In this way, dust and other particles invisible to the naked eye, ranging in size from 2 to 5 microns, are the most dangerous contaminating agents for today’s systems. Due to the size of the clearances in these systems, particles of a certain size can initiate premature wear and loss of efficiency, even in small quantities. There are several forms of contaminating agents, after all, everything that is not a component part of the system is considered contamination. Some of the most common sources of contamination from hydraulic oil and its systems are:
- Wear metal particles
- Fabric fibers (usually detached from cleaning cloths)
How does contamination happen?
Contaminating particles can penetrate a closed fluid system during several circumstances, the main ones being:
- When assembling the component / machine.
- When storing or transporting new oil.
- In maintenance, when the system is open for repairs or oil changes.
- In the operation of the machine.
Contaminating agents have an irregular shape, without smooth surfaces and with sharp edges, which, in contact with metallic surfaces, generate abrasion. Consequently, other contaminating agents can be created and damage in several ways can be caused. See, below, some of the most common problems that result from contamination and its signs:
- Oscillation on the backhoe blade.
- Tractor track malfunction and desynchronization.
- Cylinder displacement.
- Shivering in the direction.
- Slow performance.
- Difficulty of operation.
- More frequent need for services.
- Higher operating costs.
- Fall in productivity.
- Catastrophic failures.
In cases of catastrophic failures, repairing the contaminated hydraulic system can take days or even weeks. This can affect more components than the hydraulic system, as well as causing valve sticking or orifice obstruction.
To prevent premature equipment failure and wear, filtration andmicrofiltration of hydraulic oil are extremely important tools. These procedures consist of passing the oil through a set of filters that eliminate contaminants.
Through oil filtration and microfiltration, it is possible to extend the life of components, reduce downtime and increase the availability of hydraulic systems and often increase the performance of oil filtration to the maximum. These methods reduce operating costs, avoiding future downtime and corrective interventions. Learn more about types of hydraulic oil filtration in our post.