Hydraulic systems involve a number of specialized components, like hydraulic cylinders and hoses, working in harmony. That is why maintaining a hydraulic system requires specialized service or repair expertise. The system’s ability to work safely and efficiently is largely dependent on using the correct type of hydraulic cylinder and following essential safety tips and best practices. But even the most carefully constructed and operated hydraulic systems need regular maintenance. The best way to maximize your system’s efficiency and minimize costly repairs is to have a preventive maintenance plan in place. If you’ve been operating hydraulic equipment without a preventive maintenance plan, now is the time to review the benefits and implement one.
Benefits of a hydraulics preventive maintenance program
There are many good reasons to have a hydraulics preventive maintenance plan. Like any other maintenance plan, it allows you to anticipate potential equipment failures and either prevent them or minimize the damage. This means a significant reduction in equipment downtime. By inspecting equipment at regular intervals, signs of component damage or impending failure can be identified and addressed before they shut down an entire system. Instead of a weeks- or months-long repair process, a quick repair or replacement of local parts keeps your hydraulic system working with minimal interruption.
A byproduct of reduced equipment downtime is more efficient system production. Naturally, your hydraulics are working at a more efficient rate if they are running more often and at full capacity. Using hydraulics at less-than-optimal quality not only creates risk for catastrophic failure, but reduces output efficiency even while the system is working. Think of it like driving a car with reduced fuel efficiency: while it may be technically possible, it is not cost efficient.
A third major benefit of preventive hydraulic maintenance is overall cost savings. There are several factors that make this possible. In addition to the reduction of downtime and operational efficiency already mentioned, preventive maintenance reduces the need for onsite maintenance personnel and emergency repair work. Let the experts perform scheduled, targeted inspections and you’ll need fewer ad hoc repairs. Service calls on short notice tend to be more expensive, both in terms of the work performed and the equipment downtime. Fewer breakdowns mean lower overall repair expenses.
Cost savings are also achieved through an increase in the lifespan of your hydraulic equipment. Regular maintenance will minimize equipment deterioration and maximize the number of years you can use equipment you’ve already purchased. Any hydraulics owner knows that replacing equipment is a major capital expenditure, and one that should be delayed as long as possible. A preventive maintenance plan is one of the simplest and most effective ways to accomplish that key operational goal.
Key components of hydraulics preventive maintenance
Every preventive maintenance plan should be customized to suit your specific system and needs, but these are a few of the most important pieces to consider:
- Schedule of regular inspections and corresponding equipment operation plan
- Troubleshooting guide for common issues
- Technical reference materials, including equipment model numbers, hose and fitting types, assembly/routing information, etc.
- Regular operator training with periodic program updates
- Consistent maintenance records and documented procedures
When you are ready to create your own hydraulics preventive maintenance plan, contact our trained hydraulic technicians and make sure your equipment is protected.
Source: A Guide to Preventive Maintenance & Safety for Hydraulic Hose & Couplings, Gates Corporation, 2009.