Contamination Control

Increasing the Uptime and Productivity of Your Hydraulic Systems & Machines

By Rudy L. Vadbunker, CFPHS

Proper filtration and monitoring is absolutely paramount in order to keep a hydraulic system operating efficiently and effectively. Up to 80% of all system failures are related to or directly caused by contamination in the system. These system failures always result in increased machine downtime and therefore decreased production. The downtime and lost production are directly responsible for a company’s lost revenue. The added up-front cost to insure proper system filtration and monitoring can easily be justified by having eliminated just one hour of machine downtime.  

Designing for optimum contamination control requires that the most sensitive component within the hydraulic system be considered.  The entire system’s filtration should be tailored for that most sensitive component. For example, a hydraulic system containing a servo valve requires systemic filtration with a much lower micron rating than other systems. This is due to the extremely low tolerances between the servo valve spool and its lands. Shown below is a chart that will help identify the target ISO cleanliness codes needed for certain individual hydraulic system components.

Fluid Cleanliness Requirements
When choosing filtration, all of the system’s components and cycle requirements must be recognized. Anticipated pressure drop across the filter as well as the filter’s flow capacity are both important. Frequently, there is also a choice to be made regarding filter placement. In other words, the most efficient filtration may depend upon a specific filter’s position within the system. Typical filter location options include: pressure line filters, filters to protect individual components, return line filters, and offline or kidney loop filter circuits. The offline filtration systems provide the additional benefit of being able to be run continuously, regardless of the main circuit’s function or cycle. Quality Hydraulics & Pneumatics, Inc. offers a full line of filters and filtration accessories from MP Filtri.

Remember that planning for a particular cleanliness level is not enough – the system must be continually monitored to insure that the target cleanliness is achieved and maintained. Keeping the fluid cleanliness beneath or at the specified ISO cleanliness code will help ensure that both the component’s and the system’s greatest potentials are achieved.

MP Filtri offers a complete line of contamination monitoring devices which range from the In-line Contamination Monitor (ICM) up to the lab-based Laser Particle Analyzer (LPA2). These devices allow for immediate evaluation of fluid cleanliness and can help identify a failing filter and/or a failing system component (pump, valve, or cylinder) before the component failure occurs. Being proactive and spotting potential failures before they occur will result in avoiding unforeseen downtime and will keep productivity at the maximum designed level.

If your goal is to increase your productivity and maximize the uptime of your machine, make sure to contact Quality Hydraulics for any and all filtration and contamination monitoring questions, concerns, or needs.