The 300 Project – Increase the “full performance life” of hydraulic oil in the system by 300%

The 300 Project – Increase the “full performance life” of hydraulic oil in the system by 300%

Author: Mark G. Keen

Yes, it’s an aggressive target ! But, achievable !

Target 1: Increasing the useful “full performance life” of Hydraulic Oil in the system by 300%

Target 2: Reducing total “Life Cycle Costs” & “Reducing the use of Oil generally for the environment”

New technical advances in chemical formulation of oil and additives, combined with “best practice” in management of pollutants that destroy the oil over time and the introduction of “smart condition monitoring” a completely new concept in system management, all of these when combined mean that our goal of +300% oil life and at the same time “total life cost reduction” are achievable simultaneously!

Hydac have the technology, the products, and the “know how” to achieve this for you!

What are the “important concepts”?

1. Why does oil break down and need replacing?

a) Time- working oil gets old ! Yes, but just ask the ladies and they will tell you that “anti-aging formulas” are nothing new. For oil, this means additives! Now we all know that Hydraulic and Lubrication oils contain additives and have done so for many years (antifoaming, anti-rust, anti-wear, stabilising & anti-oxidising etc.).

What you may not know however is that there are new oils being released with new formulas and additives that have advanced “anti-aging characteristics”, they have different “Base Oil” with lower Sulphides (Group 2 and Group 3 base-stocks), they have the latest formulations of Esters, with Phenols & Amines typically used as antioxidants and with polyolesters blended into PAO’s to facilitate additive stability. The result is that with proper conditioning & maintenance they have the potential to last longer than ever before.

b) Contamination! All types of contaminants accelerate the aging and breakdown of the oil. This is a well researched and a proven fact, all forms of contamination accelerate the aging, some contaminants, however, are seldom recognised for what they are.

(i) These include “Heat”, the Arrhenius equation (as officially defined by IUPAC) is well known and well proven, it states that for every 10 C. increase in oil temperature we ½ the life of the oil based on acceleration of the oxidisation process and thus the depletion / degradation of the additives, (for an oil working at 60 Deg. C that means a projected life of ¼ compared to an oil working at 40 Deg. C). You can see from this that “Heat Pollution” is a major and very significant pollutant contributing to shorter oil lifetime, the good news is we can manage heat build up in systems quite easily and therefore optimize the lifetime.

(ii) Secondly yet also very importantly is the “Dissolved Moisture” as a pollutant,
(as opposed to free water). Water contamination starts at a molecular level, we should always remember that oil is hygroscopic in nature and even though it does not mix well with water certainly it attracts water and absorbs it from the humidity in the atmosphere during normal operation. It is also very important to note that the damage from water takes place long before you have “free water” evident in the system. By the time you have free water you have already exceeded 100% saturation and normal methods of looking for water contamination (cloudiness or milkiness) are useless as they only are evident at above saturation points. The “invisible absorbed moisture” at below saturation point is already damaging your oil, accelerating the oxidisation and costing you money.

(iii) Particulate – the dust, dirt and wearing down of components that are breathed into the system, added to it by mechanical wear and chemical reaction/breakdown through oxidisation or chain shear etc . These contaminants we rely on filtration to control and to remove. What is clear from many tests and long experience is that most of the dangerous particles that damage our system and components are microscopic in size (that is below the visual spectrum), therefore we need sensors that can see them and quantify the level and the changes in level (these are typically laser and LED particle counters). The particulate contamination at levels below normal filtration (ie. <10~20um) can contribute significantly to the aging of the oil and spiralling damage contamination levels.

2. What specific actions can be taken to reduce the aging?

a) Use the latest high-grade formulation oils. These oils have better stability and anti-aging properties.

b) Pre-condition the oil before service. This involves removing water and particulate contaminants (typically using “Vacuum Dehydration” to remove absorbed water and “Ultra-Fine Filtration” to remove particulates.

c) Design the system to avoid or minimise the aeration of the oil (note that Vacuum dehydration also removes dissolved air).

d) Design the system with (or add to the existing) a “heat management” function to keep the oil cool.

e) Ensure the system has “Water Absorption Breathers” fitted in addition to “dust removal breathers” (replace existing standard breathers if necessary), thus limiting humidity, transmitting moisture from atmosphere to the oil.

f) Fit high quality and high capacity / dirt holding filtration to the system.

g) For larger systems use online monitoring and “self-correcting” system design.

What is a “Self-Correcting System?” and “Why Would I Use One?”

The scarcest resource we have is “qualified, experienced people, working purposefully”.

If I have to monitor the system condition manually on a regular basis I will need:

A) Qualified operators, specialised equipment, & deep pockets!

B) Generally to wait for sample results to come back from an off-site analysis laboratory

C) All spare parts on hand at all times

This is the current unsatisfactory solution to system monitoring and maintenance.

The new alternative is the addition of 2 sub-systems to the main system:

i) A condition monitoring system (usually monitoring cleanliness levels, pressure, flow, temperature, water saturation, oil aging etc..)

ii) A switchable off-line system (usually consisting of an auxiliary pump+ oil cooler, fine particle filter, and water removal filter.


That’ Easy!

The condition monitoring allows you to do the following:

a) Ensure the system is operating under “ideal conditions”

b) Sense any changes at the earliest possible moment (well before any serious damage or system stoppage occurs)

c) “Switch in” the auxiliary system to correct any imbalances immediately and then when the system is stable again,
automatically switch it off.

d) If the auxiliary (corrective system) is unable to completely solve the problem or itself comes to a necessary service point, then the monitor sends a signal to the system or to the operator. This signal allows the operator to “be warned of an impending service” well in advance. He can then schedule it conveniently and he can prepare the necessary spare parts and equipment ahead of time ensuring that the service call will be short, successful, and avoid any necessity to make more than one visit. That saves an enormous amount of time, energy, and cost!

e) Fail safe dual switching is also possible where the system can be immediately shut down and protected from any catastrophic event well before other expensive components are damaged. Again saving significant cost over the equipment lifeline.

Increase full performance life of hydraulic oil in the system by 300% with HYDAC


Yes, it’s an aggressive target! But, achievable!

By starting clean, maintaining clean & reacting quickly to changes we can easily reach the targets, the good news is the solutions are very affordable and cost effective. They not only pay for themselves, they even save operators money in the medium/long term.

Hydac have the sensors, the interfaces, the know-how, the pumps, the coolers the filters the “TECHNOLOGY OF SMART SYSTEMS” and “SELF-CORRECTING SYSTEMS” we are already providing these fully integrated solutions to some of the worlds’ leading companies in Mobile and Industrial sectors and in 100’s of applications across the world.

From simple components right through to “fully integrated remote monitored systems” we have the correct solution to allow you to:

Increase Oil Lifetime, Reduce Life Cycle Cost, Reduce Maintenance Costs.