The team at Coastal Hydraulics is confronting the COVID-19 outbreak in a manner consistent with actions taken by so many of our customers and suppliers. Like you, we continue to monitor guidance received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other Federal, state and local authorities, and have implemented reasonable precautions to address the health and safety of our associates and those who support and surround us.
While we implement prescribed measures and comply with customers’ requirements, we have chosen to keep our shop open and technicians available for service calls on a case by case basis.
Our featured employee in the August issue of our newsletter was our Operations Manager Michael Brown. Michael is from the Charleston area and joined the Navy after graduating from high school. He served in the US Navy for 6 years, beginning his hydraulics experience as an Engineman. His experience included auxiliary work and hands on involvement with hydraulic equipment, gear equipment, engines, air compressors, and oil purifiers.
At his wife’s request, Michael made his way back to Charleston after a brief stint in Atlanta doing hydraulics work as his first civilian job. He then did mechanical and electrical work in Charleston, building power modules for Caterpillar, transforming huge diesel engines into generators capable of powering small towns. When the company relocated to Europe, he joined the Coastal Hydraulics team in September of 2001 and has been an integral part of our success ever since.
Michael began as a technician here and has held many titles since including Cylinder Shop Lead, Machine Shop Lead, and now Operations Manager. He has been instrumental in the design and implementation of our Workflow Management System, moving the Work Order Scheduling System from paper to electronic format to allow real time visibility to everyone in the company from Account Executives to Management and Technicians.
Michael lives in the Charleston area with his wife and three children and is very involved in his church. He always has a smile on his face and is eager to help in any way that he can.
The components of hydraulic systems work together intimately. As a result, damage to one component may cause further damage to others. For instance, overheated oil caused by a leaky cylinder seal can break down and cause damage to other cylinders or the pump. That’s why it pays to perform regular maintenance and preventative inspections to eliminate problems before they occur.
Most hydraulic systems consist of a pump, hoses and lines, cylinders and motors, valves, a cooling unit, a reservoir, filters and hydraulic fluid (oil). At the heart of the system is the pump. It uses energy from the engine to pump the fluid and create hydraulic flow and pressure. Valves control the flow of the fluid by restricting or redirecting it. Cylinders and motors are the “muscles”of hydraulic systems. Cylinders have a straight, push-pull action while motors use the energy from the fluid to turn a shaft. The speed at which these components operate is determined by the hydraulic-oil flow rate, while the hydraulic pressure determines the force they exert. The cooling unit acts to cool the fluid after it has gone through the system and the reservoir feeds the pump.
The basic prescription for hydraulic maintenance is prevention. If you keep contaminants out of hydraulic systems, you will avoid nearly all common problems and failures. However, some contaminants inevitably do enter the system and scratch close-fitting surfaces in the components. Therefore, follow these guidelines to keep your hydraulic fluid in top condition.
Keep contaminants out of your hydraulic system. Clean the area around dipsticks, fill plugs and hydraulic filters before removing them to check or change the hydraulic fluid. Keep all fluid containers tightly sealed when stored and pour directly from the container into the system.
Change the fluid and filter after the initial 50 hours of use. Often, the manufacturing process allows contaminants to enter the hydraulic system. A fluid change after 50 hours will eliminate these particles. Thereafter, change hydraulic fluid and filters at regular intervals.
Check oil before each use. Verify that fluid levels are adequate and that the fluid is in good condition. An inadequate amount of oil can cause severe damage to pumps. If your oil appears foamy or milky, you may have a leak that is causing air to enter the system. Air will cause jerky and slow operation of the hydraulics. Locate and seal the source of any leak.
Also, air within the system holds moisture. When the system cools down after operation, the moisture can condense and mix with the hydraulic fluid. Water in the hydraulic fluid looks similar to the milky appearance resulting from air contamination.
Regularly check the temperature of the hydraulic fluid during operation. Is the fluid too hot to touch? Does it smell burnt? Your cooling system may be not working properly or you may have pressure-related problems. Check the hydraulic oil cooler or reservoir. They must be kept clean. Remove any dirt or other debris that inhibits airflow around them. If the fluid remains hot for extended periods, it can break down and lose its ability to lubricate adequately.
The Columbia Regional Business Report recently featured our very own Adam Moreland in the Industrial Repair section of its May publication, Book of Experts. The article featuring Adam addresses Coastal Hydraulics’ history and overall capabilities as well as HVOF industrial coatings. Click here to read the article in its entirety.
We wanted to share more about Adam and his contributions to the team at Coastal Hydraulics. Adam has been with us since 1996, beginning as a Cylinder Technician and quickly moving into a sales position. He is certified by the International Fluid Power Society (IFPS), serves on our internal Quality Council and moved to the Midlands in 2014 to help Coastal Hydraulics expand its footprint to the area. Prior to joining our team, Adam served 5 years in the US Navy Submarine Fleet and 3 years in Reserve Duty as a Sea Bee.
Adam currently lives in Gilbert and enjoys spending time in his boat on Lake Murray exploring the shoreline, taking his kids out tubing or knee boarding, and attending community events around the lake. You can find Adam watching river boat drag races, participating in Lake Murray’s Children’s Chance Poker Run, or attending events like the Drift Jam charity concert.
10 Point Weekly Checklist for Proper Hydraulic System Care
Hydraulic system maintenance is a critical component to ensure your machinery stays in top working order. Basic system maintenance can help you avoid an untimely and expensive breakdown. Here’s a quick basic checklist that you should be familiar with.
10 Point Check: Any operator responsible for hydraulic system maintenance should, at minimum, perform the following 10 point checklist as part of a weekly “quick scan” of every hydraulic system.
Check fluid levels. Add hydraulic fluid as needed (if needed). Not all hydraulic fluids are the same, DO NOT MIX OILS! Use the same oil brand and viscosity grade that is specified.
Inspect breather caps, breather filters, and fill screens — DO NOT punch holes in screens in order to expedite adding oil as this may allow contaminants into your system.
Check filter indicators and/or pressure differential gauges. Immediately replace any that show signs of wear or other negative indications.
Visually inspect all system hoses, pipes, pipe connections for leaks, frays, bubbling, or chaffing spots. Hydraulic ﬂuid leakage is a common problem for industrial systems. Excessive leakage is an environmental and safety hazard, increases waste streams and oil consumption, and, if ignored, can reduce the system capacity enough to overheat and slow normal system operation. Further, leakage is often an indication of seal wear or other compromise associated with impending failure.
Check system temperature via built-in thermometers or hand-held infrared detectors. Normal temperature range for most systems is 110-140ºF but may vary. If temperatures are high, check fluid quantity, cooler operation, and relief valve settings.
Visually inspect the inside of the reservoir for signs of aeration (via the fill hole using a flashlight). Aeration is a condition in which discrete bubbles of air are carried along in the stream of oil as it enters the pump. Visual signs of aeration in the reservoir are generally foaming and/or little whirlpools taking small gulps of air into the suction strainer. Causes of aeration include: low fluid levels; air leaks in the suction line, low fluid temperature, fluid too viscous to release air or maintain suction at the pump, or faulty shaft seals. When air leaks are suspected on the suction line, smothering these points with oil will usually pinpoint the leaks by creating a marked change in pump noise. A pump ingesting air sounds as if it were gargling marbles.
Listen to pumps for the signs of cavitation. Cavitation is slightly more complicated than aeration, but has some similarities. Cavitation occurs when air is released from the hydraulic oil during momentary depressurization at the pump suction and then implodes onto metal surfaces upon discharge. These implosions are extremely destructive to pump surfaces. A cavitating pump will emit a high-pitched whine or scream. Causes of cavitation are the same as those of aeration with the exception of suction side air leaks. How do you discern aeration from cavitation? One way is to install a vacuum gauge on the suction side and make sure the pressure is equal to or greater than that prescribed by the pump manufacturer. Foaming in the reservoir is usually the telltale sign of aeration.
Inspect a small sample of ﬂuid for color, debris, and odor. Keep in mind that visual inspection is limited in that it will only detect signs of excess contamination.
Scan electrically controlled servo valves with an infrared thermometer. High valve and solenoid temperatures (over 150ºF) usually indicate the valve is sticking or bypassing. Sluggish operation and violent system “jerking” around valves is a sign of possible contamination.
Scan the electric drive motor for housing hot spots and rotor bearing temperatures using an infrared thermometer. Any such finds and the system should be immediately tagged out and serviced.
These basic tips will help keep your hydraulic system in top operational shape and reduce chances of untimely and expensive breakdowns. Contact us with questions about hydraulic system care.
Since 2009, Coastal Hydraulics has been an Authorized Solutions Provider (ASP) for Aggressive Hydraulics, Inc., a leading manufacturer of purpose-built, application-specific hydraulic cylinders and components that address the unique challenges associated with a broad range of industries and geographies. As one of only a very few Authorized Solutions Providers nationwide, Coastal Hydraulics is the exclusive representative of Aggressive in the Carolinas – providing sophisticated on-the-ground customer service actively supported by Aggressive’s advanced design expertise and engineering resources.
Learn more about our relationship with Aggressive Hydraulics.
Our new HVOF Video is now online! Click here to watch our video and learn more about HVOF and our capabilities to coat your components. We also discuss several industries that have benefitted from HVOF industrial coatings as well as our HVOF booth’s capacity.
Did you know that Coastal Hydraulics can troubleshoot, diagnose, repair, and replace cylinders in-house? We offer comprehensive cylinder services for many industries including steel mills, paper mills, marine and ship building, boom trucks, construction equipment, and many others.
Some of our hydraulic and pneumatic cylinder services include whole cylinder and component machining; written failure analysis including clearance measurements per IFPS standards; HVOF industrial coatings for longer lasting and better performing components; custom seals for unique applications.
We are also an Authorized Solutions Provider for Aggressive Hydraulics and work together to provide solutions for the mobile hydraulic cylinder industry.
We are approved as an Advanced Warranty Repair center for many companies including Enerpac, Hiab & Fassi Cranes, Alaska & North Pacific Crane, Simplex, and BVA Hydraulics.
Coastal Hydraulics is an Authorized Distributor of Hanna Cylinders, Simplex Porter-Power high pressure cylinders, BVA, Enerpac, Peninsular and many others.