Contamination can be devastating to the performance and overall life of your machine’s hydraulic system. Today’s hydraulic systems are engineered with extremely tight tolerances. These tight tolerances are what enable our hydraulic systems to achieve higher pressures. These high pressures translate into the demands that are placed on our machines to help you maintain productivity and remain within your owning and operating cost targets.
We refer to contamination as the "invisible thief" because many contaminates are too small to be seen with the naked eye. One of the most common points of contaminate entry into a hydraulic system is on the surface of the cylinder rod. When a rod becomes damaged as a result of scoring, pitting or denting for example, these imperfections on the surface of the rod can easily carry contamination into your hydraulic system as the cylinder rod retracts. Once contamination has entered the cylinder, damage can occur to the surface of the cylinder bore and internal cylinder piston seals.
With damage to the cylinder bore and cylinder piston seals, internal leakage starts to occur and efficiency slowly begins to erode. Studies have shown that efficiency losses can reach up to 20 percent or more before the operator detects an issue with the performance of their machine. When thinking of this figure in terms of productivity, 20 percent loss in efficiency translates to a loss of one entire day of production in a five-day week. Efficiency loss also reduces the overall performance of your machine and increases fuel usage. As a result, your machine becomes more expensive to run but with less productivity.
Once contamination has entered the cylinder, it can also spread throughout your entire hydraulic system and cause damage to other components such as pumps, motors or valves. Even worse, full system contamination may even lead to a catastrophic failure, leaving your machine down for an extended duration and at a very high cost to repair.
Contamination should be a major concern when a repair is performed. If care isn’t taken to ensure contamination isn’t kept out of your hydraulic system during a repair, it could cost you down time and high expense later on. Cat® dealers participate in a comprehensive contamination control program and are equipped to provide repairs contamination free through the use of clean fluids, specialized tooling and processes and Caterpillar-certified clean repair facilities.
Dependent on your situation and needs, your Cat dealer can offer a hydraulic cylinder repair that is designed to accommodate your needs, prevent unplanned downtime and restore full efficiency of your hydraulic system. To learn more, contact your local Cat® dealer or visit us online.
We’d like to hear about how you maintain the health of your machine’s hydraulic system and/or prevent contamination and other potential issues.
Have you ever had to deal with a contamination issue within your machine’s hydraulic system? What was the cause of the contamination?
Do you check for cylinder leaks during daily machine inspections? Are there any other things you are look for that could indicate a hydraulic system issue?
In your opinion, what are the most important steps you can take to help prevent issues with your machine’s hydraulic system?
Have you ever performed cylinder or hydraulic system component repairs on your own? If so, would you do it again or reach out to your equipment dealer instead?
Are there certain resources or support programs that you wish were available to you to help identify, diagnose and/or repair hydraulic system issues?
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