6 July, 2022

Keep safe and efficient through hydraulic hose awareness

21 November, 2014
Chris Buxton, CEO of the British Fluid Power Association (BFPA), and Martin Kingsbury, the BFPA’s membership director, consider some important safety and efficiency aspects to be aware of when sourcing, fitting, using, maintaining and replacing hydraulic hoses. As any engineering professional knows, hydraulic hoses have an invaluable part to play in the efficient running of many types of industrial and mobile plant. For example, they are often used for the supply of oil under pressure for motion control in high-powered machinery such as cranes, excavators and extruder equipment. If they are supplied to the user or OEM to the correct specifications, and installed in accordance with current guidelines, they will likely operate reliably and efficiently. It is worth mentioning, however, that because of the wide range of hydraulic hoses available for different applications – articulated, coiled, corrugated, reinforced etc. – it is important to bear in mind a number of valuable points in order for your equipment to suffer minimal downtime and be safe for the operators and maintenance engineers. Avoiding fluid injection injury When dealing with hose assembly providers, it is important to be as sure as possible that you are sourcing high-quality hose, fittings and related equipment and services. This is not just a requirement from an efficiency and reliability point of view, but also from health & safety perspective. High-pressure injection injuries as a result of a faulty hydraulic hose are comparatively rare; occurring in an average of 1 in 600 cases of hospital reported hand injuries. However, when they do occur they should be taken very seriously indeed and treated as a medical emergency. And it’s not only the injured individual whose health can be seriously affected; the question of professional responsibility, accountability and reputation of the company can also be raised. In the worst-case scenarios, where a fatality occurs, there could even be a level of managerial culpability that leads to prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act. The right specification So, what can be done to substantially mitigate any risk of hose failure, or, at worst, the scenario of a burst hose that results in a fluid injection injury to users or maintenance personnel? One practice to avoid is the mixing of different suppliers’ fittings for use in the same hydraulic hose application. Not all providers supply the same sizes, thread forms or taper angles, even though two different fittings may look more or less the same. Fittings have thread sizes that are often measured using a number of different formats, such as metric, BSP and MPT. Therefore if size and thread form information etc. is not written on the fitting, it is highly advisable that you seek the guidance of someone who is capable of using a thread gauge because the thread form must be known before it is installed. It is also important to tighten a hydraulic fitting to the torsion level specified by the manufacturer or supplier. Qualified fitters know that more torque doesn’t necessarily mean more oil tightness. Moreover, too much torque can end up damaging the fitting’s thread, making it difficult to unscrew and potentially reducing its efficiency and lifespan. Also, some hydraulic fittings tighten against a locking ring, clamping ring, taper or a soft seal, so if the fitting is over-tightened the rings or seals could become distorted – and this in turn can lead to a faster rate or corrosion or wear. Appropriate material Hydraulic hose fittings are made of different materials for use in specific environments. There are two most commonly used types of material. One is carbon steel, cast, forged or fully machined and often with either

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