Archive | Pneumatic / Hydraulic Systems & Components


6:16 pm
May 3, 2016
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Predicting Maintenance at Hannover MESSE

One of the specialty areas set up at the Hannover MESSE show (April 25 to 29, Hannover, Germany) was called predictive maintenance. It was a rather mixed bag of equipment/brand-specific offerings and predictive maintenance “tools” for general use. Here’s what some of the exhibitors had to offer.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director

They weren’t in the actual predictive-maintenance area, but Azima DLI, Woburn, MA, was exhibiting their Trio C10 Series ruggedized 10-in. tablets. The tablets are vibration data collectors and diagnostic instruments. The CX10 is a diagnostic data collector/expert analyzer and the CA10 is a vibration data collector/field analyzer. They are loaded with the company’s ExpertAlert diagnostic software.

Festo, the pneumatics and automation company based in Hauppauge, NY, demonstrated a predictive software component for their systems that takes advantage of Internet of Things technology to monitor all aspects of the automation system.

Hydac Filter Systems, Bethlehem, PA, demonstrated a turnkey fluids condition monitoring unit that can be used in retrofit and new hydraulic applications. The unit uses an optical particle counter and a multi-parameter sensor that measures temperature, water content, conductivity, and dielectric constant.

Asseco Solutions AG, Karlsruhe, Germany, offered their Smart Connected Solutions software, which is a subscription-based service that helps companies map all of their service and maintenance processes. The software manages data from individual sensors to deployment planning and on-site maintenance and documentation. SCS can be linked, using standard interfaces, to a wide range of ERP solutions, in addition to supporting processes such as invoicing. (An English version of the site doesn’t appear to exist.)

Bruel & Kjaer Vibro, Darmstat, Germany, demonstrated their turnkey vibration monitoring system. The system can be used on any rotating machinery, consists of all necessary hardware and software, and is scalable from a single machine to an entire plant. They also offer installation service training.

Aventics Corp., Lexington, KY, was showing their sensors and software system for monitoring pneumatics. The Industry 4.0-ready system monitors all aspects of a pneumatic system, including shock absorbers, positioning, and speed. Software tracks and analyses data, providing reports of declining performance.


7:48 am
April 1, 2015
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Improving The Reliability Of Your Hydraulic Systems


Despite their workhorse reputation, the hydraulic systems in your plant may need more attention than they’ve been getting.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

In many facilities, hydraulic-system maintenance involves little more than changing filters, sampling oil and checking oil levels. Be advised, however: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is not a best practice.

According to fluid power specialist Al Smiley, every hydraulic system in a plant should regularly undergo 15-20 reliability tests—while the equipment is running. Several checks and procedures can be performed during down days or shutdowns. Smiley offers these preventive maintenance tips to help improve the reliability of your system.

The best time to check a reservoir is when the plant or hydraulic equipment is down. Note, too, that reservoirs on these systems should be cleaned at least once a year.

Other than oil storage, the two main purposes of the reservoir are to allow contaminants to settle and to dissipate heat. If the reservoir is not cleaned, not only will its ability to dissipate heat be diminished, it will act as a heat sink. Temperatures can easily soar well above the maximum recommended temperature of 140 F. At that point, oil will begin to break down, creating sludge and varnish in the system. If the contaminants are not removed from the reservoir, they will be drawn into the pump, causing premature failure of system components.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

To prevent large contaminant particles from entering the pump, many reservoirs contain a suction strainer (#6 in diagram above). The suction strainer usually has a 74-micron rating, whereas the tolerances inside pumps and valves are 3- to 8-micron. Be sure to use a lint-free cloth when cleaning out the reservoir. If using a solvent for this task, make sure it’s recommended for hydraulic systems. Even very small amounts of the wrong solvent can impair certain additives.

System cleaning and flushing
When oil is removed from the reservoir it should be filtered to 1 micron into a storage tank with a flushing and filtering unit that will remove solid contaminants and water. A number of commercially available units can be used for this. Unless the oil is severely degraded, it is not necessary (or desirable) to change it. Run the oil through the 1-micron filters when refilling the unit, after the reservoir has been cleaned. The entire system should then be flushed to clean oil in the lines to the valves and actuators.

Flush the system by connecting the inlet and outlet lines of the cylinders and motors together. If possible, electrically or manually actuate the directional valves to allow the fluid to recirculate through the piping. If this isn’t possible, bypass the directional valves by connecting the pressure and tank lines to the outlet lines to the actuators. Use the existing pump on the machine to recirculate the oil through the lines. Connect the flushing unit so that it recirculates the oil in the reservoir through the 1-micron filters during the flushing process. Allow the system to run as long as possible.

Reservoir heater setting
Often, a heater is disconnected in summer months or omitted from the reservoir when built. Check the heater thermostat on the reservoir (#2 in diagram) to verify that it will turn on at a minimum of 70  F. If the pump is mounted on top of the reservoir and the oil temperature drops below approximately 60 F, cavitation can occur.

Oil-level switches
Most reservoirs use two switch settings (#7 in the diagram): a warning-level setting and a shutdown-level setting. The problem with this arrangement is that the difference between the two levels may be several hundred gallons of oil. By eliminating the warning switch and setting the shutdown at a higher level, oil loss will be minimal when a hose ruptures.

Breather cap
The breather cap (#8 in diagram) is usually the most neglected component on the reservoir. Verify that the breather cap has a minimum rating of approximately 10 microns. This is the first line of defense for contaminants entering the tank. Depending on system location, the breather cap may need to be changed a couple of times a year. Many breathers have a mechanical indicator that will provide a visual indication when the element is dirty. Other options include pressurizing the reservoir with an internal bladder or using a moisture-removal-type breather. Remember that money spent upgrading your breather cap is never wasted!

High-temperature switch
While mineral-based oil will start breaking down at 140 F, many systems will not shut down the unit until the oil temperature reaches 160 F. Hydraulic systems are designed to operate below 140 F. For every 15-degree increase in oil temperature above 140 F, the oil’s life will be cut in half. An oil temperature above 140 F indicates a problem in the system. This could be caused by a cooler malfunction or excessive bypassing at the pump, valves, cylinders and hydraulic motors. Set the high-temperature switch (#10 in diagram) at 140 F to shut off the pump and prevent oil breakdown.

Heat exchanger flushing and cleaning
In hydraulic systems, oil flows over the tubes in a shell-and-tube-type heat exchanger (#12 in diagram). Water flow is ported through the tubes in the opposite direction. The heat in the oil is transferred from the oil to the water. To achieve the most efficient heat transfer, water flow should be 25% of that of the oil flow. (The flow rate can be controlled with manual valves, a water-modulating valve or an electrical-solenoid.)

Circulating hot wash oil or light distillate through the tube side or shell side will usually effectively remove sludge or similar soft deposits. Soft salt deposits can be washed out by circulating fresh, hot water. A mild alkaline solution, such as Oakite, or a 1.5% solution of sodium hydroxide or nitric acid can also be used. The tubes should be flushed in the opposite direction of the normal oil flow. If an air cooler is used, verify that the cooler fan is turned on at approximately 120 F and turned off at about 105 F.

Keep the fins so clean that daylight can be seen through them. If necessary, use combs to straighten the fins on the unit. Take special care when cleaning the fins with an air hose so as to not damage the fins.

Pump testing
On variable-volume pumps, check the flow out of the case drain line by porting the line into a container and timing it. This test should be made with the outlet pressure at maximum. It is not recommended that the line be held during this test.

Secure the line to the container prior to starting the pump. The normal case flow is 1-5% of the maximum pump volume. Vane pumps usually bypass more than piston-type pumps. If 10% of the maximum volume flows out of the case drain line, the pump should be changed. An excellent method of monitoring the case-drain flow while operating is to permanently install a flow meter in the case-drain line.

Test fixed-displacement pumps by checking the amount of flow through the relief valve. Turn the pump on and record the flow out of the relief-valve tank line for one minute. Then reduce the setting of the relief valve to its minimum setting. There should be less than 10% difference in flow rates between the two tests. If a pump is badly worn, the flow will be considerably less at the higher pressure.

Accumulator testing
An accumulator that’s used for volume should be pre-charged with dry nitrogen to from one-half to two-thirds of the pump-compensator setting. When the hydraulic system is turned off, a charging rig with a gauge can be used to check the pre-charge level.

To verify that the accumulator is operating properly, the side of the shell can be checked with a temperature gun or infrared camera. The bottom half or two-thirds should be hotter than the top half.

If heat is only felt at the bottom, the accumulator may be overcharged. If no heat is felt, the bladder may be ruptured, the piston seals may be bad, the pre-charge may be above the compensator setting or all of the nitrogen has leaked out. If heat is felt all the way to the top, the accumulator is undercharged.

Another check involves watching the system pressure gauge while the equipment is operating. Normally, the pressure shouldn’t drop more than 100-500 PSI when the accumulator is properly pre-charged.

If piston accumulators are used, the charging rig should be installed when the system is down and the oil bled off the top of the piston. With the pump on and the bleed-valve open, there should be little or no flow exhausting out of the valve. Make sure all personnel are away from the bleed-valve prior to turning the pump on. A continuous flow from the bleed valve would indicate that the piston seals or barrel were badly worn. If no flow exists, recharge the accumulator to the proper dry nitrogen level.

Check system hoses for proper length and wear. Hoses infrequently burst because the rated working pressure is exceeded. They normally rupture because of a poor crimp or the hose is rubbing on a beam or another hose. If rubbing cannot be avoided, hose sleeves are available on a reel from various manufacturers. Hoses should usually not exceed approximately 4 ft. in length unless they move with a machine.

Also inspect system piping to verify that prior to connecting to a valve bank or cylinder, a hose is installed. The hose will absorb the hydraulic shock that is generated when the oil is rapidly deadheaded. An exception to this rule is that hard piping should always be used when connecting to a vertical or suspended type load. Pilot-operated check valves and counterbalance valves are used to hold the load in the raised position.

Inspect system clamps to verify that that the proper hydraulic clamps are used to clamp hydraulic lines. Beam and conduit clamps are not acceptable, as they will not absorb the shock generated in the piping or tubing. The clamps should be spaced approximately 5 ft. apart. A clamp should also be installed within 6 in. of the pipe or tubing termination point.

Valve testing
On any hydraulic system, one or more valves could be closed while the system runs. These include relief valves used with pressure-compensating pumps, air-bleed valves and accumulator-dump valves. The tank lines of all valves should be checked regularly with a temperature gun or infrared camera to verify that they are closed and no oil is being lost back into the reservoir.

The big picture
To improve the reliability of your equipment, Smiley says it’s important to develop a preventive maintenance schedule for every hydraulic system in your plant, and stick to them. Heeding this advice can help your operations boost the efficiency, safety and uptime of these critical plant systems. MT

Al Smiley is President of GPM Hydraulic Consulting ( of Monroe, GA.


3:07 pm
January 13, 2015
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Mechanical and Hydraulic Showcase


0115f3-boschGlobal Hydraulics Service for Power Generation

Bosch Rexroth’s global hydraulics service portfolio includes spare parts, repairs and preventive maintenance, safety systems, hydraulic motors and pumps, steam and gas valve actuators and more for the power-generation and other industries. The service department is involved in the installation, start-up and fine-tuning of the complete control system. Rexroth technicians can teach basic troubleshooting and maintenance for intricate components, such as servo valves and variable displacement pumps and motors. In addition, service experts can create plant-specific checklists and update them continuously to provide an ongoing record of a plant’s condition so that system settings can be checked and optimized throughout the life span of the plant.

Bosch Rexroth Corp.
Bethlehem, PA

0115f3-smithPortable Valve Actuator for Water, Wastewater

Smith Flow Control’s EasiDrive portable valve actuator allows users to operate valves in water and wastewater installations without dedicated valve actuators. With the unit, one person can efficiently drive multiple valves with a single tool, reducing fatigue and risk of injury, and saving time and money. A unique feature prevents torque kickback, ensuring valve movement is always fully controlled and preventing operator injury and fatigue. A variable torque-output feature prevents excessive torque being applied, which ensures proper, safe valve operation. The unit can be powered by air, electricity or battery, and can be custom-designed to suit specific site requirements.

Smith Flow Control Ltd.
Erlanger, KY

0115f3-exairMini Swivel Fittings for Air Nozzles

EXAIR’s Mini Swivel Fittings make it easy to adjust the position of the company’s air nozzles. Made of Type 316 stainless steel, the mini swivels allow users to point nozzles exactly where needed. Available in three sizes, they provide even small nozzles a 50 degree total angle of adjustment to put them in the best position for maximum effectiveness. They deliver a precision, highly focused and forceful blowoff for applications in tight spaces or requiring a minimal amount of compressed air. The new mini swivels can be used with any 316SS or PEEK thermoplastic mini Super Air Nozzles. All have been engineered to maximize entrainment of room air while minimizing compressed air consumption.

Cincinnati, OH

0115f3-mecwashAutomatic, Customizable Parts Washer

The Maxi from MecWash Systems is a fully automatic, highly customizable, self-contained aqueous cleaning system that meets the highest aerospace, automotive and hydraulic industry cleanliness standards. The aqueous technology cleans without solvents or emissions. Designed for cleaning large, individual components or smaller components with high volumes, the Maxi’s cleaning chamber (24”W x 24”H x 32”L) can be extended to 40”L, providing more than 23,000 cubic inches of cleaning volume. The chamber can be configured with dozens of high-volume jet nozzles; full rotation of the workload at between 2-10 RPM exposes all surfaces to the wash and rinse solutions. The unit’s cleaning system features ultrasonic, immersion and spray wash-and-rinse cycles, hot air dry and vacuum dry for complex components.

MecWash Systems Ltd.
Chagrin Falls, OH

0115f3-yaskawaIntelligent Pump Drive

The iQpump Micro intelligent pump drive extends Yaskawa’s iQpump1000 drive technology, providing reliable, cost-effective microdrive control for variable-torque pump loads through 25 hp. The pump drive is designed for light commercial, industrial, agricultural and groundwater well systems, and offers many of the same software features and control along with the same programming style as iQpump1000, but in a more affordable package. The unit is available in NEMA 1 and NEMA-4X rated models. NEMA 3R Configured Packages are also available. Integrated pump-specific software allows for a wide range of pumping applications from constant pressure, flow, geothermal, multiple pump booster systems to wet well lift stations and others. As process variables change, iQpump automatically adjusts pump operating conditions to meet system demand, while maintaining pump performance and protection.

Yaskawa America, Inc.
Waukegan, IL

0115f3-crosbyHigh-Capacity Tubing Blocks

McKissick 70 & 80 Series tubing blocks offer higher capacities to meet the increased mast capacities of today’s well-servicing rigs. These 125- and 175-ton working-load-limit tubing blocks incorporate the same features and benefits as the company’s other tubing blocks, including being RFID-equipped for electronic inspection tracking. The blocks also incorporate a new lock-arm design with a self-retaining bolt.

The Crosby Group
Tulsa, OK

0115f3-magnaMaintenance-Free Motor Brakes for Cranes

The MagnaShear motor brake employs oil-shear technology, providing longer service life in demanding applications such as in the frequent start/stop cycles seen on cranes, hoists, winches and other overhead material handling equipment. Oil-shear technology transmits torque between lubricated surfaces, thereby eliminating wear on friction surfaces. A patented fluid recirculation system dissipates heat, eliminating heat build-up which is the most common problem in dry braking systems. Elimination of wear increases service life and virtually eliminates adjustment, which lengthens maintenance intervals. The motor brakes are ideal for applications where the motor is reversed each cycle.  The oil-shear technology provides a smooth, cushioned stop which reduces shock to the drive system, further extending service life of downstream components.

Force Control Industries
Fairfield, OH

0115f3-kirkKey Valve Interlocking Systems

KIRK Eagle series valve interlocking products provide process safety control in hydrogen-cooled generator purging operations. The company’s Eagle series trapped key valve interlocking systems ensure that users follow a pre-determined sequence of operation for startup and maintenance on generators in power stations, refineries, chemical plants and other industrial applications. By controlling a defined sequence of gas valve operation, proper purging procedures are enforced and hazards minimized. The Eagle series includes integral valve interlocks to fit every type and size of quarter and multi-turn valves, as well as bolt and electro-mechanical interlocks. All Eagle series product offerings are manufactured entirely of 316 stainless steel with keyways protected by a gasketed flip cover.

Kirk Key Interlock Co. LLC
North Canton, OH

Updated MRO Catalog

Motion Industries’ updated General Product Catalog contains full-color photos and descriptions of more than 44,000 products and an interactive, digital format that allows greater usability and ease-of-use for customers. Published as an e-reader, the new catalog is searchable by key word, and every product listing contains a direct link to the corresponding page on the company’s Website. Products are divided into 20 categories, such as Bearings, Material Handling, and Industrial Products. The catalog is downloadable in PDF format, either in its entirety or by individual product category.

Motion Industries, Inc.
Birmingham, AL


3:56 pm
July 15, 2014
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Dry-Running/Silent-Running Shaft Seals Reduce Costs and Eliminate Noise & Heat Issues

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.32.39 AMEagleBurgmann has launched a new generation of dry-running shaft seals for agitators. According to the company, in addition to the known benefits of this type of mechanical seal (there is no seal supply system, for example), the new SeccoMix1 is also silent running and has been prototype tested for use in ATEX category 1 (zone 0). The seals are suited for use in mixers, agitators, dryers and filter strainers.

The company says that products from the SeccoMix series have been used for over a decade. Featuring a sprung seal face and a stationary seat unit in a semi-cartridege type of construction, these seals can be easily installed. The manufacturer further notes that since dry-running singles seals require no supply system, their costs can be as little as 30% of those for an equivalent liquid-lubricated designs.

The company further notes that although dry-running seals could be considerably noisy in the past, depending on the type and operating conditions, and generally gave off substantial heat during operation, those issues have been eliminated by its new-generation SeccoMix1 series. The redesign means that these seals not only run silently, they incorporate a patented air-cooling system for the seal face that significantly reduces temperature rise. SeccoMix1 can now even be used in potentially explosive areas (ATEX), making temperature monitoring unnecessary for category 1 (zone 0).

Standard SeccoMix1 single seals are used for top-driven machines and in non-hazardous process media. For side entires of the type often found in dryers, there is the SeccoMixR version with rotating stationary seat. Because so little abrasion results with these units, EagleBurgmann says the SeccoMix1 is also appropriate for food and pharma applications.




2:17 pm
July 8, 2014
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Holmatro Announces Launch of New ‘Industrial Solutions’ Branding

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 9.14.17 AMHolmatro, the manufacturer of high-pressure, precision-power hydraulic equipment, has announced new “Industrial Solutions” branding that highlights the company’s strength in customized solutions for heavy lifting and moving applications.

“With Industrial Solutions, we demonstrate that we go further than just developing and manufacturing standard hydraulic equipment,” says Niels Rombouts, Holmatro Industrial Equipment Director. “The demand for customer-specific solutions has increased enormously over the years. We now have a complete team of engineers and experts, dedicated to finding the right solution for various different challenges together with the customer.”

Regardless of the application, the company notes that cooperation with the customer, ease of use and safety are recurring starting points for the development of its customized solutions, which like all Holmatro products, are developed, manufactured and thoroughly tested in-house.


7:54 pm
May 27, 2014
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Safer, Faster, Easier Flange Maintenance

052714EqualizerAccording to Equalizer USA,  its patented flange-spreading tools can be used with all flange-joint types, even those with no access gaps between them. The company says its new Equalizer SWi product range can make activities associated with flange maintenance in a plant safer, more efficient and more cost-effective than in the past.

Products in the SWI line are shorter and lighter than previous models and offer a 60% more spreading force and almost 30% more spreading-distance. Molded revolving handles, revolving safety lanyards and the absence of finger-pinch points enhance usability. Simpliefied disassembly and reassembly of these spreaders translates into easier maintenance of the tools themselves. The SWI range includes three different models:

  • Mechanically operated, the  SWi12/14TM (shown) is capable of exerting 14Tons of Spreading Force.
  • The SWi20/25TE is hydraulically operated by a separate hand pump and capable of exerting 24Tons of Spreading Force.
  • Featuring an integral hydraulic pump,  the SWi20/25TI is capable of exerting 24Tons of Spreading Force.