Have you ever had to troubleshoot a hydraulic unit problem? You can be a salesman, maintenance person, or service provider, the guidelines to diagnose and fix the problem are the same. In most plants, troubleshooting is through the process of changing industrial parts. This can be expensive in parts costs and downtime if you are not sure what you are doing. When a machine is operational it is not easy to learn the problem. For many random things, people do in the process of fixing the hydraulic issue. Below are steps to follow for effective hydraulic troubleshooting.
1. Know the problem
Hydraulic issues are pressure or volume. If it is pressure, it is not building high enough to operate the machinery properly. Volume could be the problem if the issue is speed-related. Either there is a pass by somewhere in the system or the pump is not delivering the amount of oil required. Challenging hydraulic issues are those that happen intermittently. In such cases, everything appears normal while operating, but it is not steady. And the hydraulics can have some hiccups, and you cannot identify what the issue could be. Such issues need you to do proper research. Since it may be a minor issue, you will notice it when keen. As a first step, always identify the problem to make it easy to fix the issue.
2. Collect information
Once you know the issue, the next step is to collect information. Fortunately, before you arrive at a problematic hydraulic system, most things have already been done. It can be electrical, or it needs pressure adjustments. Check if the new components have all part numbers as the replaced components. If it misses one letter or number, that part will not work effectively in the system. Consider checking the correct part numbers and letters to make the hydraulic system operate at its best. Also, at this step of collecting information, do visual checks. Assess the filter condition, oil level, pump coupling condition, leakage, among others. Also, verify the level of oil cleanliness by checking the latest oil analysis report. So, get the best information from machine operators for they understand how the unit should sound, feel, and run. Since most maintenance workers only show up when the machine has an issue.
3. Review the schematic
While you trace and read the hydraulic schematic, it is the best way to diagnose the issue. Follow the lines on the schematic to find the problem before changing out any part. This will avoid people working on repairing the hydraulic valve while stuck on what the issue could be, do not assume the help of the schematic, as it helps to identify the problem faster than doing it all alone. Also, you save downtimes if you took the time to diagnose the issue from the schematic immediately after the machine went down.
4. System diagnosis and adjustments
After you have done the above steps, you should verify that the system pressures to check their settings. This includes the pressure-reducing valves, pump compensator, relief valve, and other pressure control valves in the hydraulic systems. Since most times, you can solve an issue by setting the pressure at the correct level. As you diagnose the system check accumulators using an infrared camera. When troubleshooting pressure problems, always isolate various points in the system. If there is a pressure problem in the machine, the oil may be bypassing the system.
5. Reliability checklist
Once you solve the issue, the toolboxes are loaded up, and everyone returns to their duties. What is vital for the future is to develop a reliability checklist on the hydraulic system. The checklist should consist of temperature and pressure readings, oil cleanliness, filter and breather conditions, current readings on the electric motor, conditions of clamps and hoses, voltages to proportional valves, among others. Do this check regularly to avoid unnecessary downtime. In the future, the recorded information will be a great tool in case of any hydraulic issues. When a machine breaks down, most times, the problem is simple, but most people start changing parts. Thus, it is not about only changing parts, but becoming an effective hydraulic system troubleshooter.