Did you know that blown hydraulic hoses and resultant hydraulic hose repair costs the New Zealand logging industry over $130 million annually in lost productivity? That cost equates to over 700 logging crews missing out on 15 hours a month of work at $1,500 per hour.
Imagine what you could do, and how many lives you could change, with $130 million? All it takes is to familiarise yourself with hydraulic hose maintenance, and you could be in for some significant savings.
Below, we cover some of the most helpful information and top tips for hydraulic hose maintenance. A few hours of maintenance could save millions in hydraulic hose repair and downtime.
1. Use Your Eyes
You can’t fix what you don’t see, so never underestimate the importance of visual inspections. All hose assembly components – including the hose and fitting – should be part of your regular review. Firstly, check the fitting on the hose. Does it move around? Does it slip? What about the cover? Does it have any damage, cracks, or cuts?
If your hose has cracks, feels stiff, or has any charring, then cease using it immediately. What’s more, you should look at hydraulic hose repair or replacement if you notice any corrosion, kinks, twists, crush marks, blisters, or loose components.
Your hydraulic hose is important, but so too are all parts of your hose assembly. Once you finish looking at your hose, check your port for leaks, dirt build-up, and any worn shields, guards, or clamps. While you’re at it, check all your fluids to make sure they’re clean, free of air, and at the right level. Get into a regular maintenance routine so that your gear is always in the best condition.
2. Test it Out
Sometimes, it’s not what you see that’s the problem, but what’s inside. You won’t always know if anything’s amiss until you put your hydraulic hose into action. Carry out regular tests while operating the hose at maximum pressure. At this time, you should be able to notice any leaks or potential hazards that call for hydraulic hose repair.
While testing, ensure you and those around you are out of harm’s way. Avoid testing in hazardous areas.
3. Know When to Replace
Nothing lasts forever, and your hydraulic hose is no exception to the rule. As you go about your day, you often don’t spare a thought for inner components coming to the end of their working life. But that’s the sad reality. Hoses will harden and crack, fittings will wear out, and seals will deteriorate under thermal cycling and compression. There is no way around it.
The key to keeping costs down when carrying out a hydraulic hose repair or replacement, however, is by keeping up with your calendar. Have a schedule in place for when you should replace something.
Manufacturers have recommendations, but there are often government and industry standards as well. By replacing parts before they break, you are avoiding unplanned downtime and potentially dangerous situations.
4. Be Safe
When you work with hydraulic hoses every day, it’s easy to get complacent. They seem harmless, and you’re an expert with how to use the machinery that has them. However, you may be an expert machine operator, but how are you with hydraulic hose repair safety?
When a hydraulic hose fails – be it through a catastrophic event, poor maintenance, misapplication or wear and tear, the fluid escapes in a stream. You can’t see it, and you may not find where it’s escaping. Your first instinct may be to feel where that leak is. It’s crucial that you don’t put your hands anywhere near the hose.
High-pressure fluids penetrate your skin, resulting in severe tissue damage. The pressure can even be enough to remove a limb. Instead of feeling for a leak, shut down the equipment and wait until all the pressure is free from the hose. This process may take minutes or hours.
When the pressure rating is at zero, take off the hose and examine it. At this point, you should not carry out a hydraulic hose repair. A full failure requires an entire replacement unit.
If you are not confident to undertake any hydraulic hose repairs or maintenance, then leave it to the experts. Your machine will have a servicing agent who can happily take care of anything relating to maintenance and repairs.
Hydraulic hose maintenance is not something you can forgo or forget. Keep an updated service log book and set regular time aside for entire machine maintenance. Carry out visual inspections, test parts to ensure they are working at their best, and know when it’s time to replace them.
The key to the most productive working environment is regular maintenance. Nothing spells financial loss quicker than unpredicted downtime that stops an entire working crew in its tracks.