A Quick Overview of Hydraulic System Maintenance

heavy construction equipment

One of the most overlooked – but most important – components of heavy construction equipment is the hydraulic system.

Hydraulics help power a lot of the mechanisms that make performance possible for a piece of construction equipment. But they often aren’t heavily checked, inspected, or maintained, which can lead to problems down the road. Most operators perform a quick check of the vehicle and mainly look for leaks – assuming that if there aren’t any, the hydraulics are good to go.

However, if you want to protect your investment, it helps to maintain your hydraulics with regular, detailed maintenance and inspection. Here’s how.

Keeping Oil Maintained

The first line of defense is with the hydraulic oil used in the system.

Oil helps lubricate your components and keep them operating for the length of their expected service lives. Using the wrong oil – or just using the cheapest option – can seriously shorten a component’s service life, which ultimately costs you money. And not keeping levels high will ultimately degrade a system and render it inoperable over time.

Follow the manual for recommendations on which type of oil to use. It varies by use and by environment. Oil used in the south may vary from oil used out west or up north. Follow the manual and consult with equipment experts when keeping track of your system’s oil levels and composition.

Additionally, store oil in a sealed container in a dry area. Moisture and particles in the air can both have a negative effect on oil over time, especially in conjunction with any additives that are in the oil. Speaking of additives, it’s important to select the right additive for the right machine. A machine operating at 4,000 PSI may require a different additive than one running at 2,000 PSI. There is no one-size-fits-all for additives for your oil. That’s why talking to an expert is so important.

Monitoring Filtration

Your hydraulic oil filter is an important part that is often overlooked. It’s understandable, because oil filters aren’t easily seen most of the time, so they’re out of mind. But keeping your filters replaced regularly can mean the difference between top performance and sub-par performance.

Use filters recommended by the manufacturers, and replace them regularly. Inspect filters on an ongoing basis, even before their shelf life is supposed to end. Other filters beyond those recommended can be a poor fit for the system, which can eventually wear down system components. If something happens to the filter and your valves are affected, that can shut down an entire piece of equipment.

Protecting System Integrity

The overall health of a system is important for heavy construction equipment. You have to maintain the system as a whole so that it operates the way it’s supposed to.

Analyze your fluids through fluid samples taken at regular intervals. You have to take samples consistently, not just when a failure occurs. Samples can pinpoint potential problems well before they turn into major issues – but you have to keep it up regularly. Fluid analysis isn’t always something owners want to do, but it’s well worth the effort.

Additionally, you have to monitor how your operators use the equipment. Operation should be smooth and seamless. It should induce as little wear and tear on the equipment as possible. And you should monitor duty cycles to make sure the equipment isn’t being pushed past its limits. A smooth operator is preferable to one who runs full-bore the entire time without consideration for the equipment.

Reckless operation of heavy construction equipment can cause damage to hydraulic pins, bushings, cylinder pins, and other components. The pump system and release valve can also fail under reckless operation.

Perform Scheduled Maintenance

Finally, perform scheduled maintenance at all times for your vehicle fleet. Scheduled maintenance is the only way to avoid problems with your equipment later on. A lot of the issues owners have with their equipment can be traced back to irregular and infrequent inspections and maintenance periods.

At Cowin, we have over 75 highly-trained and qualified technicians who work at fully-equipped facilities perfect for ongoing maintenance. The average service management pro has 29.1 years of experience; the average technician has 17.3 years of experience. The end goal is perfect, seamless customer service that protects your investment.

Also, Cowin offers four levels of a Customer Support Agreement (CSA) that guarantees OEM parts, oil, and filters, along with exemplary customer service, to help improve the life of the unit.  

Protect your hydraulic systems by taking care of them on a regular basis, and work with professionals to guarantee your equipment is taken care of the right way.