Predictive Maintenance in Hydraulics2021-10-05
Predictive maintenance has been around for a number of years, why is not so widely used?
In hydraulics there are more sensors then ever. These sensors can tell you:
- when the oil is dirty
- when the oil has a level of water that can damage the system
- the current level of oil in the reservoir
- the current fluid temperature
- the operating pressure
- flowrate throughout the machine's cycle
There are others such as vibration monitoring and thermal imaging that can be used effectively on hydraulic systems.
Predictive maintenance seems to be applied by industries that highly value their production time, needing to know the health of their machinery. They also tend to use preventative maintenance to further guarantee machine availability.
On the other hand there are users of hydraulic machinery that employ no maintenance at all. They save money until the machine eventually breaks down and that is when the costs mount, most probably above the typical annual maintenance cost. This also is not taking into account the costs of lost productivity and time.
There is a trade off between the size of the hydraulic system and its importance, when thinking about applying predictive maintenance. Sometimes only preventative maintenance will be the cost effective solution.
Oil is an increasinglly expensive commidity and there are still users of hydraulics, disposing of oil every year. There are instruments that can monitor oil cleanliness and oil condition. A manually taken oil sample is inexpensive. Changing the oil because it says so in the manual or you think it best, is no longer the cost effective option. The cost of oil and the effect on the environment, for its production and disposal is high.
Predictive maintenance is useful for many different reasons.