Using hydraulic-powered machinery has become the norm in construction and other industries. Hydraulic systems function by utilizing pumps and other mechanisms to propel fluids to the various components. This process can accommodate a larger weight range and increase force compared to electrical, pneumatic or mechanical systems.
What Is Hydraulic Oil?
Hydraulic oil, which is also known as hydraulic fluid, is the material that transfers energy within a hydraulic system. The types of hydraulic oil include:
- Petroleum-based: These are the most commonly used types of hydraulic fluids for applications where the fire risk is low. They provide excellent rust resistance, less foaming and enhanced lubrication.
- Water-based: The two water-based hydraulic fluid types are water-oil emulsion — which is affordable and offers reliable fire resistance — and water glycol, which provides superior viscosity and good corrosion resistance.
- Synthetic: These blended liquids work well in high-temperature applications.
- Biodegradable: This fluid type is more environmentally friendly and poses fewer hazards when hydraulic system leaks occur.
How Hydraulic Oil Is Used With a Hydraulic System
Besides transferring energy, hydraulic fluid performs several additional functions within a hydraulic system. These systems and the machinery they help to operate generate substantial heat. As the oil passes through the system, it moves through a cooler, helping to maintain the optimal temperature and prevent overheating. Alternately, the oil can carry heat into the system to assist with cold starting.
Contamination can cause significant damage to a hydraulic system and connected components. The hydraulic fluid reduces the risk by carrying potentially harmful particles away from vulnerable areas via filters and other conditioning devices. The oil also assists with sealing O-rings and other parts within the systems, motors, pumps and valves. Finally, oil lubricates the moving parts, protecting against metal-to-metal friction that can cause premature wear and possible melting.
The Importance of Hydraulic Fluids and Their Maintenance
Without hydraulic oil, many types of equipment could not function properly. Because of their hydrolytic stability, these fluids help prevent the formation of corrosion and rust that can cause a machine’s premature demise. They also enable equipment to operate in extreme temperatures with minimal damage risk. The fluid also has the ability to separate water quickly and prevents damage to components.
Hydraulic systems are often exposed to air and water. Anti-oxidation is one of the most valuable properties of hydraulic oil — this characteristic helps prevent system damage in these circumstances.
Regular hydraulic fluid maintenance is crucial for optimizing its performance and preventing infiltration from contaminants. It’s important to change the oil and filters at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer and even more frequently in extreme-use situations. You should also monitor the hydraulic system’s performance to detect irregularities that could indicate fluid issues.
Contact Global Electronic Services to Learn More
At GES, we’re experts at performing hydraulic repairs and rebuilds. We can also provide expert advice on how to choose the right hydraulic oil for your needs and the best ways to maintain it. Contact us for additional information or to request a repair quote today.