When your hydraulic system stops working, no matter the cause, it can bring productivity to a grinding halt (both literally and figuratively). Troubleshooting and tracking down the problem will take skill, experience and common sense. There are a few basics that anyone can handle, however. The basics of hydraulic troubleshooting serve as a reminder to keep it simple and take time to do each step. This will save money and time in the long run.  

Preparing for Troubleshooting

Before you even begin the troubleshooting process, it’s important to know what the problem is. This means you have to ask questions before you start. Some basic questions might be:

  • How long has this been happening/When did it start?
  • When did you first notice the problem and what was happening? (startup/shut down/heavy load/temperature change/etc.)
  • Have there been any recent changes to the system, such as maintenance, modifications to the settings, or repairs?
  • When was maintenance last performed?

Once you have as much information as you can gather, pull the hydraulic schematics for reference. It’s important to know that you should not attempt troubleshooting without this! The schematics provide valuable information about flow and pressure in the system.

Common Problems

There are a number of issues that commonly prevent hydraulic systems from working properly, such as an inoperative system or overheating hydraulic fluid. In any basic troubleshooting, it’s key to look at the most typical issues that arise in hydraulic systems first.

System Inoperative

When your hydraulic system is inoperative, there are several things that can be checked. First, you must verify the hydraulic fluid levels and check for leaks, as they can lead to significant loss of hydraulic fluid. Filters are also a common problem because if they are dirty or clogged, they can seriously impact performance. Check your hydraulic lines for restrictions such as collapse or clogging. Be sure you do not have any air leaks affecting the suction line. Also, inspect the pump itself; if it is worn, dirty, or out of alignment, it will affect system performance. The drive can be a source of issues if belts or couplings are slipping or broken. 

Slow Operation

If your hydraulic system is working more slowly than normal, it could be as simple as the hydraulic fluid is too thick, which may be due to cold temperatures or the use of an inappropriate hydraulic fluid. Air trapped in the system can be a problem, as well as restrictions in the line, due to dirty hydraulic filters. Another potential issue is badly worn hydraulic components such as pumps, motors, cylinders, and valves.

Erratic Operation

When a system is operating in an erratic, unpredictable manner, it can be very frustrating. One of the most common causes for this is air trapped in the system or hydraulic fluid that is too cold. Damaged internal components, such as bearings and gears can also be a reason, although it is a bit less common.

Excessive Noise or Vibration

Something that almost anyone who works with hydraulic equipment has experienced is excessive/abnormal noise or vibration. The pump being noisy calls for a check that the oil level is sufficient, the correct type of fluid is being used, and that the oil is not foamy. If the oil is foamy, that informs you that there is air in the fluid. This can lead to cavitation and expensive damage. It is also wise to verify that the inlet screen and suction line are not plugged. For both pumps and hydraulic motors, there can also be internal issues, namely worn or misaligned bearings. Noise and/or vibration can also mean you need to make sure the couplings are secure and tight. Keep in mind that pipes and pipe clamps can vibrate if they are not secured properly, so take a moment to check them over if none of the other checks show an issue.

Overheating Hydraulic Fluid

Excessive heat is never a good sign in a hydraulic system and often leads to a system working at sub-optimal levels. One of the primary purposes of hydraulic fluid is to dissipate generated heat, but the system should not be generating enough heat to cause the fluid to reach high temperatures.

There can be many causes behind hot hydraulic fluid, starting with contaminated hydraulic fluid or fluid levels that are too low. There may be oil passing through the relief valve for too long at a time; in this case, the control valve should be set to neutral when it is not in use. Worn-out components within the system can also lead to excessive temperatures due to internal leakage. Restrictions in the line or dirty filters can result in hot hydraulic fluid or if hydraulic fluid viscosity is too low, it can lead to overheating as well. Finally, there may be a need to make sure that the oil cooler is functioning correctly and that the key components are clean enough for the heat to radiate away from them.

No Fluid Flow

Having no flow within the hydraulic system is a serious issue that can have several different sources. The first step is to determine exactly where the fluid flow stops, such as failure of the pump to receive fluid at the inlet (usually the result of a clogged line or dirty strainers) or a failure for fluid to exit the outlet, which could be due to a pump motor that needs replacing, a sheared coupling between the pump and drive, or a pump/drive failure. It would also be a good idea to make sure the pump rotation is set correctly and the directional valves are in the correct position.

The most expensive problem would be a damaged pump that needs to be replaced or repaired. Getting your hydraulic system back in working order can be a time-consuming process. At Yarbrough Industries, we understand the importance of having a functional, efficient hydraulic system. We know that downtime is a price that you can’t pay in both money and time. That is why we offer comprehensive hydraulic services on-site troubleshooting and repair. Our team of experienced technicians can work on motors, pumps, valves, cylinders, and systems. When complex repairs are called for, we have a full machining center and certified welders. We also offer customized maintenance plans tailored to your needs and your equipment.

 

Contact us today to find out how Yarbrough Industries can help keep your hydraulic systems operating efficiently.

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Whether you are in a warehouse, distribution center, or other manufacturing facilities, it is inevitable that you will have pallets for material handling or storing equipment. Although they are generally user-friendly and simple, improper stacking of materials can bring troubles and unforeseen accidents. These might include worker injuries, product damages or property destruction. There are some simple rules that should be followed while stacking pallets. These are also imperative in order for your company to be in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), although this is not a complete list. 

Pallet Stacking: A Quick Guide

Stacking pallets properly not only saves space but also helps eliminate tripping and collision hazards. It helps with organization efficiency as it can also help categorize your goods. By organizing effectively, you, in turn, ease the material storage and transportation activities. 

Stacking pallets carelessly or overly high can lead to collapse, causing injuries or death to those in their vicinity. Here are several measures that can enhance safety and efficiency when it comes to stacking pallets.

  • Ensure that the pallets are durable enough to carry the loads required. It is also important the the pallets are undamaged. 
  • Never stack products with sharp corners or edges on pallets in a way that they could injure people coming near them.
  • Tie any boxed items securely. This can be done with cross-ties or shrink plastic fiber. 
  • Metal pallets should be stored in a clean place and have no protruding nails, holes, splinters, or loose boards.
  • Position your pallets securely to avoid collapse or sliding when stacking goods on them.
  • Avoid keeping stacked pallets in high-traffic areas.
  • You can stack pallets up to 15 feet high, however, regulations vary based on the type of goods you store on them. 
  • Always stack product on both sides of the pallet. Even distribution is critical for material handling and safety. 
  • If you must stack different products, always stack similar items with uniform size and shape together. 
  • Never overstack a pallet, even if it seems as though there is still room for stacking at its rated capacity. 
  • Always stack the heaviest load at the bottom of the pallet.
  • Maintain sufficient clearance around stacks. This ensures safe handling and easy access.
  • Provide ergonomics training and task-specific training to assure proper stacking, and utilize a pallet dispenser if available.
  • Never stack goods where they obstruct lighting, electrical panels, or ventilation.
  • It is not advisable to manually lift heavily stacked pallets per OSHA regulations, instead use a forklift or automated pallet dispenser for lifting.

There are more safety practices that have been formulated by OSHA and following these practices, as basic as they are, help prevent damage to life and property. 

If you are interested in learning more about saving your company time and money through safer pallet procedures, please contact Yarbrough Industries today. 

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Manufacturers typically use one of two major cutting processes when cutting material for a project. These are known as laser cutting and water jet cutting. The choice of one or the other may be better depending on the type of material used and the desired end result. This article explains some of the basic differences between these fabrication processes and the materials and types of projects that they work well with.

Laser Cutting

A laser cutter relies on gas, typically CO2, for energy. The CO2 is transmitted through a beam, guided by mirrors, and directed at the material that will be cut. With CO2 lasers, the laser source is located inside the machine, and the beam can output between 1500 and 2600 Watts, which makes safety a primary concern and can occasionally increase the price point on a laser cutting job. Materials and applications, as well as precision and safety, are important factors to think about when considering laser cutting.

Materials and Applications

Laser cutters work well with a wide variety of materials, making them an easy choice for plastic, glass, wood, and most metals. It is important to note that laser cutters cannot be used on reflective metals. It can also work on material combinations as long as that combination consists of materials with similar melting points. If the materials have different melting points, it can be rather difficult to cut. Sandwich structures with cavities cannot be cut at all using a laser, and materials with limited access prove difficult as well. 3D material cutting is also hard to manage because of the rigid beam guidance with the mirrors. 

Laser cutters do well with materials that range between 0.12 in and 0.4 in thickness and are commonly used to cut flat sheets of medium thickness steel. Typically, a laser cutter performs cutting, welding, drilling, engraving, ablation, and structuring.           

Precision and Safety

Lasers are great when you want precision. The minimum size of a laser cutting slit can reach 0.006 in, depending on the speed of the laser. It is good to note that thinner workpieces may suffer from gas pressure if the proper distance cannot be maintained, and partial burring does occur frequently. Deformation and minor structural changes can occur as a result of thermal stress, and the cut material will appear striated. 

Laser cutting produces smoke and dust, and some plastics and metals may produce toxic fumes, so being aware that those could impact time and cost is important. The overall risk involved in working with laser cutting machines is very low, however, and your time and budget can benefit from the minimal amount of waste produced and subsequent ease of cleanup. 

Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutters use pressurized water to cut materials. There are often abrasives such as garnets and aluminum oxide added to increase cutting ability.  The overall process mimics erosion in nature, just at a much higher speed and concentration: a high-pressure pump drives the water through rigid hoses, resulting in a forceful water jet—a typical water jet can output between 4 to 7 kilowatts. Unlike a laser cutter, where the laser source is located inside the machine, the work area and pump are often separate.     

Material and Applications

Water jets can cut virtually any material including combination materials—with combination materials. However, water jets pose the threat of delamination. They can sometimes handle 3D material cutting, and exhibit limited ability with sandwich structures and cavities. Cutting materials with limited access is possible but difficult. 

Water jets usually perform cutting, ablation, and structuring, specifically with materials like stone, ceramics, and thick metals. Materials that range in thickness from 0.4 to 2 inch benefit from water jet cutting.

Precision and Safety

Waterjet cutting is not quite as precise as laser cutting, with a minimum cut size slit of .02”. Because of the high level of force used, thin, small, parts do not fare well and must be handled carefully. Although thermal stress is not an issue and burring doesn’t occur in the cut, the surface of the material will appear sand-blasted as a result of the added abrasive to the waterjet. The waterjet cutting process is quite noisy, and requires a significant amount of clean up, which could mean a bit more labor cost. There is also a large amount of waste that occurs as a result of the mixed water and abrasive. 

At Yarbrough industries, we specialize in laser and waterjet cutting. learn more about our services and how we can help you with your next project.

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When you need to hire a machine shop, it’s important to work with someone you can trust to get the job done right the first time. Working with a local company makes this much more likely. But why?

A local machine shop offers several advantages. When you are weighing your options, consider the following benefits of working with someone in your own backyard and what you should look for when doing so:

    • You can be more specific: Clear communication and detailed specifics are essential to getting the end result you desire. Being able to deliver this information in person allows you to make sure your parameters are accurately conveyed and your machine shop understands exactly what you need. You can specify the tolerances needed and work with the local company to achieve accurate measurements and optimal results. 
    • You can make roughness smooth: An important aspect of your project is determining the desired roughness of the surface. Do you want smooth components, with a very polished surface? This depends greatly on the functionality of the parts. A local professional can explain how the roughness will affect the performance of your equipment and work with you to decide what roughness is best for your project.
    • You can choose wisely: The materials you use for your manufacturing affect the final durability and performance. It also greatly affects the cost of production. Your local machine shop will review your options with you and let you personally examine various materials to determine which is best. You may even be able to look at similar products the shop has made in the past to make an informed comparison.
    • You can enjoy savings: A local shop can save you both time and money. Enjoy a smaller budget by saving on delivery costs. Complete your project faster by cutting out delivery wait times. By working with someone local, you won’t be wondering where your parts are in transit or when the project will be completed.
    • You can be involved: When you work with a local machine shop, you can be actively involved in the manufacturing process. This will provide peace of mind and a better overall experience with production.
    • You can complete the process: Once the machine shop has designed and manufactured your piece, they can also install it. It is typically easier for the same professionals who created the part to also perform the installation. Working with someone local makes this possible.
    • You can help your community: Obviously, we all want to do what we can to ensure that the community we live in is becoming better every year. Working with a local business helps your own community and you know that they will provide reliable, timely service to keep their reputation spotless.

Shop local with Yarbrough Industries! You’ll enjoy the advantages of working with a local machine shop right here in the heart of the Ozarks while receiving the best quality from some of the top professionals in the industry. Reach out to us today with any questions or to get started on your next project.

Get direct access to industry-leading content

This industry moves fast, but you can move even faster if you’re up to date on trends, technical developments, and best practices. The Yarbrough Industries blog is a go-to source for valuable, timely and detailed information. Sign up to ensure that you don’t miss a single post.