Choosing the right hydraulic fluid is vital to achieve the maximum performance and life for your hydraulic cylinder.
Hydraulic oil or hydraulic fluid is much more than something you add to your hydraulic system like a consumable item.
It is a central engineering component. Choosing the right one is vital to getting the best performance from your hydraulic cylinder. It is also a critical factor in the life of the cylinder and mean time between failures.
For example, hydraulic fluids which are not compatible with the seal material can result in chemical attack where the fluid causes the seal to swell, lose memory due to excessive friction while swollen, or become gummy and sticky.
Beyond the obvious problems that a sticking rod might cause, faulty seals also allow the ingress of water, air or both. Such contamination further reduces the effectiveness of the hydraulic unit and can also lead to internal cylinder corrosion.
Getting the hydraulic fluid right therefore requires looking beyond the application to the construction of the cylinder as a whole and how this comoponent fits in with the whole assembly.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
If you have doubts about the hydraulic fluid you are using then it is better to have it tested than wait for failure. Testing the oil or fluid will provide a better understanding of the state of the fluid in two key areas:
1 - Contamination
Knowing the level of contamination will give vital clues as to any other possible problem such as seal wear or leakage.
The contamition level provides an indication of how much life is left in the system to allow a planned repair to be made in a controlled shut down.
2 - Chemical Makeup
The chemical makeup of the fluid is something that will change over time in line with usage, load and heat. Time may also be factor in itself.
Understanding the chemical makeup will give an indication of the efficiency of the system and when the fluid should be changed in the future.
The downside of testing is the cost and that the results are after the fact. That is, you may be getting the results when it is already too late.