A piece of hydraulic equipment operating in the waste and recycling industry must be super tough. It performs robust, unrelenting work in the harshest environments. But such equipment is only as strong as the hydraulic and pneumatic hoses that feed it.
Rupture a hose and the equipment is idle. Its operations cease—a loss of time and money for the operator. It’s also a source of frustration for the community members waiting for the waste to be picked up, and for the municipalities that oversee this service. Hydraulic hose failures can be very expensive, but not just in the terms of downtime: They can create an ecological problem as fluid spills into the surrounding environment.
Equipment can take a beating
Garbage trucks, compactors, balers, shredders, grinders and dozers exert tremendous force—intense hydraulic power—which requires the system to be working at maximum capacity. Conveyor systems, screeners and separators are also hard-working machines that operate for long durations.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generated 258 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2014, more than 89 million tons of which was composted and recycled. All that hard work means that hose failure is bound to occur over time.
The good news is, you don’t have to wait around for that to happen. There are number of preventative measures you can employ to keep your hoses in good working order and eliminate some of the costly downtime.
Inspect your hoses carefully
A good inspection procedure is the first line of defense in preventing hose failure. It should be a scheduled activity, part of your maintenance program. It’s helpful to create a checklist of issues to look for so your inspection will be structured and thorough. Incorporating images into the checklist makes it doubly effective—as the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Things to look for include external damage, such as cuts to the outer cover, kinks, and exposed wire reinforcement. You should check the clamps to make sure none of them are missing or there’s no damage resulting from any rubbing action. During the inspection, be on the lookout for rust and oxidation on the fittings. Check all joints for moisture, which can be a sign of impending problems.
When you find any of these issues, it’s best to have the hoses replaced rather than waiting for them to fail at the most inopportune time (and they often will), bringing thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery or equipment to a halt without notice.
To increase the life of your hoses and to stave off future damage, you may opt to cover them with specially designed plastic, metal coil, or textile sleeves. Providing that extra layer of protection can pay dividends down the road—particularly in the aggressive environment of the waste and recycling industry.
Change oil, filters
The outside of your hose can be smooth and free of damage even while the inside is being cut apart by microscopic particles. As valves and pumps undergo the natural erosion process, tiny flecks of material can end up circulating through the oil. After enough cycles, these contaminants can create unseen internal abrasion leading to a failure.
The obvious solution is to keep the oil clean. Change it regularly, along with the filters. The more the fluid running through your hoses is contaminant-free, the better your chances of hose longevity. This is crucial in the waste and recycling industry, because the harsh conditions make equipment so prone to wear.
Ensure hoses, fittings are compatible
You want to make certain that the hoses in your assemblies are compatible with all the fittings. While it may be optimal to have all hoses and fittings from the same manufacturer, this is not absolutely essential. If you must “mix and match” from different manufacturers, check with each manufacturer to make sure the products have all been fully tested and approved for compatibility with one another.
By the way, it’s advisable to use hose vendors who tag and identify their hose assembles so you can easily determine where and when hose assemblies have been replaced.
Preventative maintenance is worthwhile
This minor investment in preventative maintenance is well worth the effort. When a hose ruptures during waste and recycling operations, it can be a monumental headache. A few small steps performed on a regular basis is often the difference between big trouble and business as usual.
Be sure to take those steps.
Jamie Vokes has been the manager of franchise support for PIRTEK USA since January 2003. Before joining PIRTEK USA, Vokes acquired more than 22 years’ experience in the PIRTEK system through his position as European sales manager for PIRTEK Europe. Vokes also holds and maintains his connector and conductor certification with the International Fluid Power Society.