Hydraulic cylinders are widely used in a large number of heavy construction equipment. Hydraulic cylinders help to transmit and multiply force from one point within the hydraulic system to the other through the use of an incompressible fluid. It is this force that powers the operation of heavy construction equipment.
Construction equipment operators need to have a basic understanding of how hydraulic cylinders work. Discussed below are some common reasons for hydraulic cylinder failure and their possible remedies.
Contaminated Hydraulic Fluid
Contamination of the fluid in a hydraulic cylinder is perhaps the most common reason for cylinder failure. Contamination of hydraulic fluid often results in problems such as scored piston rods and regular internal leakage of hydraulic seals. Increasing internal leakage in a hydraulic cylinder has a profound negative impact on hydraulic cylinder efficiency.
Contaminated hydraulic fluid also has a negative impact on the ability of hydraulic valves to control fluid pressure and flow. This results in wastage of power and production of excess heat.
Hydraulic fluid contaminants often emanate from exposure of the fluid to external environmental conditions, the cylinder manufacturing process, and worn out parts of the hydraulic cylinder.
Once hydraulic fluid is contaminated, the only remedy is to flush out the fluid from the hydraulic system and have it replaced with non-contaminated hydraulic fluid.
Shock loading is also often responsible for hydraulic cylinder failure. A shock load causes sudden impact to full pressure within the cylinder. Shock loading may occur when heavy construction equipment is over-loaded, or when such equipment is put to unconventional use.
Shock loads emanate from fluid pressure as well as from the kinetic energy present in moving parts of the cylinder. Shock loading causes cylinder problems such as bending of piston rods and damaged eye bearings.
Reducing the likelihood of shock loads is done through the use of cushioning systems that are built into the end caps of a hydraulic cylinder. Special accumulators built for shock absorption can also be placed in the hydraulic system.
Pressure intensification refers to a situation in which pressure within the hydraulic cylinder increases above relief valve settings.
This problem occurs when pistons of double-acting hydraulic cylinders are pressurized and escape of hydraulic fluid through the rod side is prevented. This causes pressure intensification on the rod side of the cylinder, which ultimately leads to catastrophic cylinder failure.
Pressure intensification may result in wearing out of cylinder rods on one side. This problem can be remedied through the inspection and subsequent streamlining of cylinder valve operations.
For more information, contact hydraulic cylinder services.