Clean, dry hydraulic fluid is the lifeblood of any hydraulic system. And keeping all gear oils, lubricants and other fluids within an industrial system contaminant-free is critical to efficient and reliable machinery. That’s why there is an entire trade show and technical conference dedicated to these technologies each year, called Reliable Plant, sponsored by Noria Corp.
This year’s event was held in Cleveland this week, and it was a great opportunity to see some of the big players in hydraulic fluid filtration, leak- and contamination-prevention, as well as new companies we’ve never heard of. A walk-through the show floor served as an introduction to new technologies and a chance to see how some technologies work first-hand.
Brand new for Schroeder Industries was its Hy-Trax sampling systems, which are available as manually controlled or with telematics communication modules with remote controls for wireless systems. The compact units include a micro VSD pump and Schroeder’s TestMate contamination monitor and water sensor mounted on a single manifold block. They are designed for mineral-based hydraulic fluids with viscosities up to 350 cSt and provide accurate particle counts of >4, >6, >14 and >21. This product was brand-new at Reliable Plant, so I am sure we’ll be hearing more about the technology soon, especially as more people look for wireless diagnostics options such as the telematic version.
Another brand-new portable particle counter was being introduced at Argo-Hytos’ booth, which launched its new OPCount at Hannover Fair last week in Germany. It is designed for use with mobile or stationary machinery and features a touch display and keypad for easy operation. It can be operated in both low and high pressures, of 0 to 7 and 4 to 420 bar, respectively and temperatures of 10 to 60° C. Viscosity ranges vary; for bottle measures, up to 200 cSt; at high-pressures, up to 350 cSt; and in lubrication systems, up to 1,000 cSt. It is rated for flows of 25 ml/min.
Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of visiting a company at a trade show is to really see its products in action. I’ve been writing about Spectronics Corp. for years, and this was the first chance I had to see the company’s fluorescent dyes and UV lamps in person. The dyes are flowed through hydraulic systems to see where leaks might be present, and glow fluorescent when the lamp or flashlights are shined on them. What I never fully understood was why there were so many colors available, as the dyes come in eight different colors. Upon speaking with Jeffrey Levine, industrial sales account manager, however, I learned that this is done to coordinate with machinery colors and fluids. For example, one company uses a more orange-colored hydraulic fluid, so the dye must be as far from orange-colored as possible. And white machines must have a bright green or red dye to stand out from the machinery background color.
Contamination and leaks are not the only problems you may encounter with hydraulic fluids, however. Varnish, which is caused by oxidation, can cause downtime, or in worst-case scenarios, catastrophic failure of a system. To prevent varnish, ISOPur Fluid Technologies of North Stonington, Conn., was promoting its Balanced Charge Agglomeration (BCA) technology, which is used in its Alliance Varnish Removal purification system for small hydraulic systems. BCA extends the life of antioxidant additives by removing products of oxidation, said ISOPur’s David Cummings. The ISOPur charging and mixing unit splits fluid flow into two paths, with the particles in each path being charged electrostatically by positive and negative electrodes. These opposite charged particles attract and agglomerate, and then these larger particles are removed by the filtering system.
As mentioned earlier, many of the companies were promoting wireless versions of their technologies, and this was no different at C.C. Jensen. The company, which focuses on online condition monitoring, particularly in the wind industry, was highlighting its real-time wireless oil analyzer, the OCM15. Designed for use with gearbox oils, hydraulic fluids and other lubricants, it is best suited for systems with lots of air bubbles, as it is designed to eliminate them.
Our final visit was with a company I’ve never heard of before, Dry Hydraulics, where we spoke with Tim Grooms and Michael Hurst about their water absorption technology. As anyone knows, water in hydraulic fluid can cause great damage, destroying the fluid and even the components that the fluid flows through. Preventing water build-up is critical, so the company offers molecular water absorbers that continuously remove all forms of water (free, bound and emulsified) from hydraulic fluid. The filter is contained in a stainless steel housing that is stored in a tank. For smaller applications, the company’s Micro Dry absorbers can simply be dropped in a reservoir to keep fluid dry. It’s a very simple technology but a very useful one and one that appears to work extremely well. Grooms and Hurst supplied me with some samples, so I will be doing my own video demo of the technology in the near future. Stay tuned.