Cylinder "Broke?" - Don't Go Broke Replacing It
Cost savings and increases in productivity are crucial if a company is to survive and prosper in today's economic uncertainty. Hydraulic cylinders, although a small cog in the wheel of industry, is one area where a company can save money by developing and adhering to a maintenance program. And when cylinders breakdown or wear out, consider the benefits of repairing the existing cylinder instead of purchasing a new one.
Maximizing the life of a hydraulic cylinder begins with a dedicated approach to maintenance. The biggest culprit in cylinder failure is fluid contamination. This single item accounts for close to 80% of all hydraulic cylinder failures. Neglecting to establish a regular fluid inspection schedule and cleanliness target can result in high levels of micron particles that left unchecked, will eventually score the cylinder rod, cylinder bores and lead to seal failure. Dependent upon the industry, system, usage and maintenance standards, hydraulic fluid should be checked a minimum of once per quarter and sent out to a lab for an ISO cleanliness test. The fluid will be graded on 6 levels ranging from 2 upwards to 50 microns. The results of the test will determine whether the fluid needs to be changed or filtered back to within specifications. Servo value systems, because of the close tolerances and precise nature of the equipment, will require special attention and very high cleanliness standards.
In addition, regular inspection of the equipment to ensure that pivot points are greased, rod end connections are tight and not working loose from their mounts and that rod boots are in good condition will also help alleviate potential problems.
Other reasons cylinders fail are due to an inappropriate application for the specific task or because of an improper mounting, which, over time, will create undue stress in the most vulnerable areas. Then there is always the potential of a random event like a piece of construction equipment or manufacturing material falling on an exposed cylinder rod, creating a nick or defect on the surface that will shorten the life of the unit.
Over time and regardless of the maintenance schedule, hydraulic cylinders will fail or simply wear out. When that time comes, consider repairing a cylinder instead of buying a new one. The benefits include faster turnaround time, a significant cost savings and the ability, in many cases, to identify the cause of the failure and make the necessary corrections that will eliminate the problem from occurring again.
In the past, many companies stocked a spare cylinder or two as back up to assure continuity of production; however, in today's economy that is no longer a feasible option for most companies. Instead, many are turning to specialized repair facilities like Yates Industries.
Yates offers a 24-hour emergency repair service and stocks a complete selection of parts and materials that enable them to repair a cylinder in a quarter of the time or less than it takes to machine a new replacement.
It is often possible for Yates to repair and ship a cylinder within a day or two of receiving the product. The length of time will depend on the size and condition of the unit.
Cylinder repairs can save a company approximately 40 – 50% of the cost of a new unit. This is a substantial savings considering that new hydraulic cylinders can cost upwards of $100,000 – dependent upon the application.
Although a large portion of the savings comes about as a direct result of using many of the existing parts in the repair process, it does not compromise the quality of the cylinder but can actually enhance the life of the unit.
Each cylinder receives a thorough inspection at the start of the repair process to determine the overall condition of the unit. During this phase, technicians check to see if there has been any stress placed on the unit from excessive side loads, improper mounting, fluid contamination or a defective seal. All welds are also dye tested for stress cracks. This procedure enables the technician to determine the possible cause of the failure and make the necessary corrections in the repair process which will restore the unit to a better than new condition. This is also a time when a determination can be made to assure that the cylinder is the proper fit for the application. In comparison, buying a new cylinder will not address the specific technical or design flaws that led to the failure.
During the repair process, defective parts are replaced. The cylinder body is bored and honed if necessary – rods straightened, OD re-chromed, end caps reworked and seals replaced or upgraded if possible. "One of the advantages to repairing a cylinder," stated Mark Cook, Vice President, Yates Industries, "is that if a rod has to be machined and re-chromed we will increase the layer of chrome from 1/1000th of an inch upwards to 4/1000th – a process that enhances the surface hardness of the rod and performance life of the cylinder. All new cylinders repaired are brought back to like new OEM condition and are warranted for workmanship and material."
In the end, establishing and following a comprehensive maintenance program is the key to maximizing the performance and useable life of your hydraulic cylinder. In these current economic times, your can minimize your costs by being proactive. However, when a cylinder does wear out, take time to consider the alternative of repairing the unit — which in the long term could save you even more time and money over the purchase of a new unit.