The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports an annual entry of over 700 million gallons of petroleum products into the environment, with approximately half attributed to irresponsible and illegal disposal practices. However, experts in the hydraulic industry estimate that between 70 and 80 percent of the hydraulic oil lost to the environment results from leaks, spills, line breakage, and adaptor failure.

A member of my Hydraulics Pro Club, serving as a maintenance planner for a large coal mine, recently informed me that the mine purchased 447,000 liters of hydraulic oil last year. It seems unlikely that planned oil changes accounted for more than a third of this volume. So, where does the surplus go? One might speculate that the coal from this mine burns more efficiently than most, but it’s safe to assume that hydraulic oil leaks contribute significantly to their challenges.

Considering this, I pose a question:

Do you have an accurate estimate of how much hydraulic oil each of your machines consumes annually?

Accurate measurement and recording of all top-offs are the only ways to determine this, especially if you oversee multiple hydraulic machines. From my experience, most users neglect this practice. Yet, those who have followed my advice and tracked top-offs are often surprised by the considerable volume of hydraulic oil lost by a particular machine over a year.

Yes, it’s an additional task, but controlling what isn’t measured is nearly impossible. As Peter Drucker, the late management guru, famously stated, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Moreover, the costs extend beyond makeup oil. Environmental costs, akin to carbon emissions, are not fully reflected in the price of hydraulic oil. Stay tuned for developments in this area. Additionally, there are expenses associated with cleanup, proper disposal, and the safety risks posed by leaky machines. Where hydraulic oil escapes, contamination can enter, necessitating costly filtration processes.

Addressing Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic leaks may require downtime, which is sometimes dismissed as an inconvenience. However, numerous innovative solutions are now available to address such issues. Therefore, now is an opportune moment to reconsider those persistent hydraulic oil leaks that may have been deemed insignificant in the past.

A 25 GPM pump operating continuously in hydraulic oil at this level of cleanliness will circulate approximately 3,500 pounds of dirt to the hydraulic system’s components each year on an accumulative basis!

To prevent the addition of dirt to the hydraulic system, always filter new oil before using it.

This can be achieved by pumping the oil into the hydraulic reservoir using a filter cart. Alternatively, if a filter cart is unavailable or impractical, the oil can be pumped into the reservoir through the hydraulic system’s return filter. The simplest method is to install a tee in the return line and attach a quick-connector to the branch of this tee. 

When hydraulic oil needs replenishing in the reservoir, couple the drum pump to the return line and pump the oil into the reservoir through the return filter. This process not only filters the oil but also prevents spills and the entry of external contamination. For most hydraulic systems, the advantages of implementing this straightforward modification far outweigh the minimal cost involved.

A recent client sought my advice regarding an application that demanded the utilization of biodegradable Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic fluid. This client was bidding for an earthmoving project situated in an environmentally delicate wetland area. A contractual condition stipulated that all equipment employed on the project must utilize biodegradable fluid in their hydraulic systems to mitigate pollution risks in the event of oil leaks, particularly due to hydraulic hose failures.

One type of biodegradable hydraulic fluids consists of bio-based variants. These fluids utilize canola (rapeseed), sunflower, or soybean oil as their base. Under specific conditions, these fluids can exhibit properties comparable to mineral oil-based anti-wear hydraulic fluids. However, due to limited testing, most Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic component manufacturers recommend reducing the maximum permissible operating pressure (load) when utilizing these hydraulic fluids to ensure there’s no compromise in the lifespan of hydraulic components.

Upon examining the available technical data on the hydraulic components installed in the machinery to be deployed, it was deemed prudent to lower the operating pressure to 80% of the permissible level for mineral oil.

Taking this into account, the contractor had to factor in several extraordinary costs in their bid. These costs encompassed not only the expenditure on the fluid itself but also the expenses associated with draining, flushing, and converting the Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic system from mineral oil to vegetable oil and vice versa. Additionally, there were costs linked with the adjustment of machinery capabilities.

A reduction in system operating pressure translates to a decrease in actuator force. Consequently, a hydraulic excavator with its operating pressure reduced by 20% would experience a corresponding 20% decrease in “break-out” force. This commercial implication necessitated that the contractor estimate the project cost while accommodating the use of larger machinery than initially anticipated.

Initiatives like renewable energy and exploring non-food applications for agricultural production have spurred advancements in bio-based fluid technology. As these fluids become competitive with mineral oils in terms of price and performance, their adoption will increase, leading to more comprehensive data regarding Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic component longevity.

Ensuring that every dollar invested in operating and maintaining hydraulic equipment is wisely spent is now of heightened importance. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the hydraulic equipment you design, repair, or maintain doesn’t result in financial losses due to leaks.

Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida Hydraulic systems are commonly viewed as continual consumers of oil, making makeup fluid an inherent expense in operating hydraulic equipment. However, to accurately assess the true cost of one or more ‘minor’ leaks on a hydraulic machine, one must take into account the expenses associated with the following:

Make-Up Oil

The expense of replenishing lost oil should be the most apparent consequence of hydraulic system leaks. However, many users of hydraulic equipment overlook the cumulative impact of one or more slow leaks over time.

Imagine a piece of Car Lift Repair Tampa Florida hydraulic equipment losing 0.5 cc of oil per minute. That’s 30cc per hour, totaling 720 cc over 24 hours – seemingly insignificant. Yet, over a month, this amounts to 22 liters, and over a year, 263 liters. With an oil cost estimated at $3 per liter, the annual expense amounts to roughly $800.