How to Increase the Working Life of your Hydraulic Pumps
If you’ve had trouble trying to predict how long your hydraulic pump will last, you’re not alone; the lifespan of any pump can be next to impossible to figure, even with a lot of past experience. Unfortunately, there currently exists no approach that’s dependable enough to reveal a precise figure. However, it isn’t necessary to guess about how long your hydraulic pump will live; all that needs to be done is to look at a few factors.
General System Considerations
What kind of application your hydraulic system is being used for is the first thing to think about, as this will have the most impact on the life of your pump. The temperature at which the pump must operate will be another consideration. Regardless, a pump of industrial grade will generally have a longer lifespan than one without an industrial designation.
Oil is another consideration; specifically, the grade and type being used in the system. Some oils, like the fire-resistant or other special purpose types, will not have a positive impact on the life of a pump, but may help the pump run more easily while in service. The cleanliness of oil is another factor to keep in mind, as this will be integral to the long life of a hydraulic pump, and every other components in the system, including hydraulic seals and gaskets.
How hard a pump works overall will speak volumes about its potential lifespan. The rate at which the pump spins, the pressure under which it must work and its duty cycle all will contribute to the length of its life. A pump operating at 70% or less of a duty cycle that spins at 1200 rpm using clean oil is likely to last over 20,000 hours. However, under a 90% load with 1800 rpm and a special purpose oil, that lifespan is reduced to around 10,000 hours.
Even if you have all of the information you could ever want about a particular pump, there is one thing no one can prepare for, and that is a flaw in the pump’s design. Even the best designs can have hidden flaws which can compromise the system and/or cause complete failure of the pump itself. For example, if a pump’s design allows for valves to shift rapidly and cause regular spikes in pressure, this will eventually and inevitably cause total pump failure if left unchecked.
Should You Run a Pump to complete Failure?
Some may wonder if it’s better to simply run a pump until it can no longer do its job. But even this is not without its caveats, as running a pump until failure can cause damage to or the failure of other components, thereby increasing the cost to repair them. The key to long pump life is in changing it before it fails.
Instead of running a pump to failure, the careful management of change-outs should occur, as should the collection of historical data. A pump can be removed and inspected to see how well it’s operating before being place back in service. So if 20,000 hours is considered to be a lot for the pump you’re using in your system, you may consider removing it once it’s reached 15,000 hours to check its operating status. If all is well, the pump can be run for another 3,000 hours and inspected once again before being placed back into service for another set of pre-determined hours.
This graduated approach will avoid risk to other system components as well as allow you to keep a pump in service for as long as possible, which can save you money. It will also provide the data needed to make future decisions on the realistic lifespans of subsequent pump installations.