Effect of summer on hydraulic fluids

When it comes to summer temperatures, companies using hydraulic equipment need to be able to cope with rising temperatures. Knowing how the heat affects your hydraulic system can help when it comes to preserving machinery and ensuring that no downtime occurs from the heat.  

Hydraulic fluid is directly impacted by the rise in temperatures. Power Team SA suggests that the first step is to know the viscosity of your fluid and how it changes at different operating temperatures. Petroleum-based hydraulic oil has viscosity that lessens as the temperature increases which then reduces its ability to reduce heat and part-wearing friction. If the load on the hydraulic system remains the same but is working at a higher operating temperature with a reduced oil viscosity, friction, abrasion and adhesive wear will increase.  

Keep the fluid cool by controlling temperature with cooling processes. These should be put in place before the warm weather arrives. Processes can include:

Make sure you are using the right oil in the system.

Know the overall efficiency of your system. Lower efficiency systems generate more heat and may require heat exchangers. If heat exchanges are being used, make sure that they are not too small for your system as this can make the heat increase even more.

With hot weather comes humidity which can lead to water contaminating your fluid and therefore your entire system. Water in your hydraulic fluid can cause surface corrosion and increased wear on a system’s metal parts. It can also reduce oil viscosity adding to the rising temperatures. To help avoid this, the following can be done:

Perform oil analyses on all systems to check water content. Once this is established replace hydraulic reservoir air breathers with desiccant breathers which will help to absorb water in the system.

Carefully manage oil temperatures and viscosity and know if the rising temperatures are due to water contamination and humidity. It is also important to know just how hot a system is running. Once all of this is known you can avoid additional expenses when it comes to repairs and part replacement.

Power Team SA’s knowledge on all things hydraulics comes from decades of experience within the industry. Any concerns regarding systems running hot can be directed to the team at Power Team SA, as they will be on hand to answer any and all hydraulic related queries.