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Fluid technology: These are the mistakes you should avoid

Fluid technology is an essential component of many industrial processes. Whether hydraulic systems, pneumatic controls, or process equipment, proper application and maintenance is critical to efficient operation.

However, there are numerous sources of error that can lead to malfunctions, failures, accidents and reduced competitiveness in the market. Avoiding these errors ensures optimal operation, long equipment life, and improved energy efficiency.

What actually is fluid technology?

Fluid technology is a field of engineering that deals with the use of liquids and gases in technical applications. It is a key technology used in many industries and technology areas, such as mechanical engineering, automotive engineering, process industry, power generation and environmental technology.

Fluid technology includes both hydraulics (use of liquids, usually oil) and pneumatics (use of gases, mostly compressed air). They are used in systems to transmit, control and convert energy.

Hydraulic systems can transmit high forces and torques and are therefore widely used in heavy machinery and equipment. Pneumatic systems, on the other hand, are popular for their speed, cleanliness, and safety in transmitting energy at lower loads. Common applications include production lines and machine tools.

Typical components in fluid power systems include pumps, cylinders, valves, actuators, piping and control devices. The design, selection, installation and maintenance of these components are critical aspects in fluid power applications. Failures in these areas can lead to inefficiencies, breakdowns or accidents.

What errors can occur when designing fluid systems?

There are numerous sources of error in fluid system design. These include:

  • Conversion of functionality into a circuit diagram
  • Dimensioning and design of components
  • Selection of components
  • Compliance with safety regulations and standards
  • Energy efficiency

What are the most common sources of errors in the field of fluid technology?

  • Conversion of the functionality into a circuit diagram: The correct representation of system functions in a circuit diagram is essential. Errors overlooked here can subsequently cause expensive malfunctions and failures.
  • Dimensioning: Inaccurate dimensioning of the overall system minimizes performance and can lead to damage due to overload. For optimal sizing, determine the correct sizes of all lines, valves, pumps and actuators.
  • Component sizing: Component sizing errors often result in inadequate performance, system instability, and premature wear.
  • Component selection: Choosing inappropriate or poor quality components can degrade system performance and lead to premature failure.
  • Safety regulations and standards: Failure to comply with safety regulations and technical standards may trigger dangerous situations.
  • Energy efficiency: Insufficient consideration of energy efficiency during project planning can lead to increased operating costs and a reduced service life of the plant.

What consequences can errors in project planning have?

Errors in the project planning of fluid power systems can have far-reaching and serious consequences. The range of potential problems is broad, from technical difficulties to serious safety concerns.

A primary problem in fluid power is cavitation. This is a phenomenon in which fluid bubbles implode in a fluid system and cause damage to components. This can affect the operation of the entire system and shorten its life.

Pressure spikes caused by incorrect component sizing or design can lead to system instability. In the worst case, there is a risk of performance problems or complete failure of the system.

Even minor errors in project planning lead to higher manufacturing and operating costs. Inefficient design or selection of components causes the system to consume more energy than necessary. This increases both operating costs and CO₂ emissions.

The most drastic consequence of incorrectly designed fluid systems is a significant increase in the risk of accidents. Faults in fluid systems can affect the health of operators or uninvolved third parties.

The pitfall in the detail: faults in fluid technology detected

In the highly specialized world of fluid technology, every overlooked detail has far-reaching consequences. Decisions that seem trivial at first glance can have serious consequences.

Incorrect material selection or neglect of surface protection can cause corrosion and malfunction of the fluid system in humid and aggressive environments. This in turn has a direct impact on the service life of the system, which is significantly shortened.

Another common mistake is the incorrect sizing of pipes, valves, pumps and actuators. If just one inconspicuous pipe is undersized, pressure drops occur. The efficiency of the system is impaired and, in the worst case, the system fails.

Incorrect conceptual design of functional parts can lead to overloads and thus to the failure of components or entire assemblies. Extreme pressures and temperatures that occur as a result of incorrect dimensioning stress the material and possibly cause a total failure of the system.

Errors during assembly and operation

Numerous sources of error also lurk during the assembly and operation of fluid systems. These include:

  • Installation
  • Maintenance
  • Operating temperature and pressure
  • Contamination
  • Presence of air and water in the system
  • Insufficient training of the personnel
  • Deficiencies in the safety equipment

The consequences of such defects can be the following:

  • Leakages
  • Blockages
  • Reduced service life of the equipment
  • Unsafe operation
  • Reduced performance
  • Increased noise
  • Vibrations
  • Reduced performance
  • Malfunctions or failures of the system

Many failures are due to improper installation, such as improperly attached lines or the use of defective or incorrect hoses.

Another widespread source of error is irregular maintenance of the fluid technology used. Systems that are maintained too infrequently or not at all almost inevitably lead to leaks and reduced performance over time. The service life of the components is reduced as a result, which in turn leads to an increase in the total cost of ownership.

With modern sensor and measurement technology, maintenance operations can be coordinated efficiently and possible faults can be detected at an early stage of their development.

Contamination is also a serious problem in the field of fluid technology. Contamination such as dirt, water and air in the lines can lead to blockages, corrosion and cavitation. Filter technology adapted to the fluid system used ensures permanently safe operation.

The human factor is also a typical source of error in the operation of fluid technology. Inadequately trained or inexperienced operating personnel can handle the highly complex fluid systems incorrectly. This may result in an increased risk of accidents.

Existing insecurity becomes particularly dangerous if there are deficiencies in the safety equipment at the same time. In the field of fluid technology, high pressures and temperatures occur. A burst pipe can lead to serious personal injury.

With ARGO-HYTOS to maximum reliability in fluid technology

In fluid technology, mistakes are expensive and can lead to serious consequences. Incorrect material selection, faulty dimensioning or failure to comply with regulations can cause malfunctions, breakdowns and safety risks. Thorough planning, correct selection and regular maintenance are crucial to ensure optimal functioning, long service life and energy efficiency.

ARGO-HYTOS has been your reliable partner for many years when it comes to high-quality and durable components for fluid technology. Our experts are always pleased to serve you, so that your upcoming project will be a success. Contact us and let us advise you without obligation!

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