Simple Steps To Gauge The Health Of Hydraulic Equipment

Digger on gravel

Your hydraulic equipment is an expensive and vital part of most projects. Properly maintaining that equipment saves you from downtime, and saves you money. That starts by asking the right questions, and tracking the right information.

Whether your goal is to spot signs of trouble before they become a costly problem, or to inspect the cause of an equipment failure, you’ll need to follow these steps.

Invest in a heat gun

An infrared thermometer, or heat gun, is a vital tool to check the health of your hydraulic equipment. You’ll want to know what the equipment’s normal operating temperature is, and what it’s operating at now. This knowledge will be the first step to diagnosing any potential issues.

Target the hydraulic tank

Now, you’ll draw a small target on the hydraulic tank. Stay below the minimum oil level, and stay away from the cooler return. You’ll be taking oil temperature readings by pointing your heat gun at this target, so you’ll need to follow these guidelines to ensure an accurate reading. Label this location 1.

You might think you can just remember where to take these readings, but the idea is to ensure accuracy regardless of who is handling the heat gun. Make it easy to follow the instructions.

Closed Circuit Transmissions

If your equipment has an open-circuit hydraulic system, you can skip this step. However, for closed-circuit hydrostatic transmissions, you’ll be marking locations 2 and 3. Just about anywhere on each leg of the transmission loop will do. Find a convenient spot, and mark it with a target.

Heat exchanger inlet and outlet

For locations 4 and 5, locate the heat exchanger and draw a target on the inlet and outlet. Doing so allows you to monitor the temperature drop across the cooler. This will allow you to correctly calculate the heat rejection of the exchanger because you’ll know both the oil flow rate, and the temperature drop.

When you experience overheating, knowing the heat rejection of the exchanger is critical to identifying whether the problem lies with an increase in heat load, or in the cooling circuit.

Install a pressure gauge

If your piece of equipment doesn’t already include a pressure gauge or transducer, you’ll want to add one. This will record operating pressure, and in a closed circuit hydrostatic transmission, similar devices will record charge pressure.

Create your report

Now, you’ve got all of your necessary tools in place to record pertinent data. Make a report template or table to record your readings and make sure you include the date each reading is taken. Be sure that when you take readings of the temperature across the heat exchanger, the fan or water pump is running. As you build out your report, try to vary the environment you take your readings in. Collect data on the hottest and coldest days, and a few mild days in order to get a true feel of your equipment’s health.

At Maxwell Supply, we carry everything else contractor’s need besides hydraulic equipment. Come see us to get stocked up on supplies for your next project.