We recently visited a large site of one of the leading scrap metal processing companies in the UK and were surprised to find the hydraulic oil tank of their primary baler “open to the atmosphere”.
From new it had been fitted with a series of three Filler Breathers one on each of the 76mm diameter tank top filler pipes. They had been initially removed because “It makes it quicker to top up the oil level” and never replaced.
We had been called to site to investigate short life on the expensive Pall hydraulic filter elements used in the baler circuit.
The results of an oil analysis showed a high level of 5 to 25 micron dust particles and a lot of free and emulsified water. The dust particles were “blinding” the filter element explaining the short service life. The emulsified hydraulic oil would result in accelerated wear of the pumps and motors in the baler circuit.
The operators had not appreciated the effects of their actions, that what seemed like a short cut would actually cause expense and cost more downtime.
All too often we witness similar cases where people underestimate the importance of quality well maintained filters and subsequently find machines and equipment being forced off line.
To rectify the problem the company had to hire a mobile off-line filter system with a water absorbing hydraulic cartridge and a separate 5 micron hydraulic element to clean up the system.
The elements in the breathers have been renewed and the breathers refitted. This small investment will be repaid many times over through the extended life of the hydraulic oil, the reduced frequency of hydraulic filter changes and the longer service life of the pumps and motors