19 February, 2020

Connection is key to fluid power system efficiency

30 October, 2015

As equipment and technology advances, it has never been more important that modern fluid power systems perform safely and precisely. However, partnering one manufacturers hose with another’s coupler can seriously jeopardise this. Andrew Dawes, hydraulics product manager at Eriks, explains how to avoid the common pitfalls of specification and why solid connections hold the key to true system efficiency.

It’s common knowledge that high-quality hose assembly is essential to the reliability and efficiency of fluid power systems. The flexibility of hoses enables components to be positioned in the most efficient or convenient place, due to the ability to bend around corners, through tight spaces, or across long distances. Yet, there is a misconception within industry that specifying high quality hoses and end connectors (couplings) from separate manufacturers won’t have any effect on a systems performance. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Beware of the ‘mix and match’ approach

The amount and type of machinery being imported into the UK has grown dramatically, which has led to suppliers offering countless styles and types of hydraulic hoses, couplings and fittings. With engineers under constant pressure to solve challenges quickly and avoid machine downtime, a hose may be matched from one manufacturer, with couplings from another. This ‘mix and match’ approach to hose and coupling specification can have serious repercussions ranging from minor leaks and major safety hazards, through to unanticipated downtime and increased maintenance costs.

To determine the correct hydraulic hose and coupler has been selected, it is vital to take a holistic view of the system to ensure maximum efficiency. This should take in to account hose performance characteristics and the demands of the application including meeting temperature requirements and pressure capabilities and crucially the compatibility of system components.

Take size for example, in order to select the proper hose size for replacement, it is important to measure the inside and, if through confined spaces, the outside hose diameters exactly, as well as the length of the hose. The inside diameter of the hose must be sufficient to keep pressure loss to a minimum and avoid damage to the hose as a result of heat generation and excessive turbulence.

Risk of reduced hose life

In fact, the hose must be capable of withstanding the minimum and maximum temperatures of the system application. All hoses are rated with a maximum working temperature ranging from -40degC to +100degC based on the fluid temperature, but exceeding these temperature recommendations, for long periods of time, can reduce hose life by up to 80 per cent.

Needless to say, correct specification at the point of purchase can reap dividends for businesses; ensuring systems are not only safe but also as efficient as they possibly can be. To understand the core requirements of a system, it is essential to understand the needs of the business and the environment in which the system will be working. This means taking into account every factor of the application, including fluid and ambient temperatures, environmental conditions, the type of equipment, working and surge pressures, minimum bend radius, fluid compatibility and expected service life and beyond.

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