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What You Need to Know About Particle Contamination

Particle contamination in hydraulic systems on commercial vehicles can go unnoticed and can lead to premature repairs or increased fluid replacement which costs fleets money.

What are the ways to prevent or manage this?

Recently we interviewed Bob Ihrig, the Applications Engineer for Filter Systems, and Timothy Rodman, the Marketing Supervisor from Schroeder Industries.

Hydraulic System Failures

Contamination of commercial vehicle’s hydraulic system oil is a significant issue that can lead to multiple problems—robbing it of performance, reliability, and productivity.

The effects of contamination comprise a laundry list that includes some of the fleets’ most pressing issues: loss of vehicle efficiency, fine controls and position holding, internal leakage, sticky and erratic controls, and rust and corrosion.

Schroeder Industries products solve the main problem of solid particle contamination for fleets which has a significant economic impact.

Three Common Causes of Contamination

There are three common reasons a hydraulic system can become contaminated:

  • Built-in: This comes from dust and dirt from the manufacture.
  • Dirt Ingression: This happens when working on the hydraulic system in a dusty or dirty environment.
  • Internal: This occurs when you have two or more components grinding on each other when you’re operating, which causes metallic or steel components to chip off and get in the fluid.

How do you deal with these types of contamination?

“It begins with understanding the possible sources. It’s very unlikely the contamination can be completely prevented. It’s just the nature of what it is… When we’re talking about particle contamination, we’re talking about particles that aren’t able to be seen with the human eye. So, this is why effective filtration, and fluid condition monitoring, either online or through lab analysis is vitally important to long-term asset reliability,” explains Bob Ihrig, Applications Engineer for Filter Systems at Schroeder Industries.

A Success Story

The economic impact of hydraulic system contamination is huge. Once a contaminant is introduced, it flows through the entire hydraulic system from the pumps, through the lines, and all the way back to the reservoir. If the particles are large enough, the orifices inside a valve can get clogged, blocking oil flow, and that begins to shut down the function of the vehicle’s entire system.

This was the situation with one refuse truck fleet with 100 units. They were having problems with keeping their hydraulic systems from getting contaminated and so they had resorted to just increasing the frequency of the fluid change intervals which was costing them more than they realized.

“We were able to deploy two Schroeder Asset Management Filtration Station units (AMFS) which is an intelligent offline filtration and condition monitoring product on a mobile cart for a 100-unit refuse truck fleet… When we arrived the (hydraulic) fluid was simply being replaced every six months costing the fleet nearly $98,000 annually. By simply deploying our AMFS solution, we were able to increase our customers’ fluid-change duration to 18 months. Ultimately resulting in an estimated fluid cost savings of $65,000,” Bob recounted.

Education and Training

Schroeder Industries have really tried to provide the heavy-duty parts industry with educational information that will assist fleets and repair shops to win the fight against hydraulic system contamination.

“The more end-users can educate themselves about the harmful effects of contamination on their hydraulic systems, the more in tune they can become with their heavy-duty machinery,” said Timothy Rodman, Marketing Supervisor at Schroeder Industries.

They have a YouTube channel dedicated to education about the problems that occur with hydraulic fluid contamination. They have also created a mobile-specific pocket guide and a product-specific pocket guide, which is a storybook way of learning the effects of contamination, and how to fix the problem.

This education effort is for everyone, communication is key between operators and repair technicians, because the efficiency of a hydraulic system can be reduced by 20% before the operator notices a difference in operation.


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Author: Taron H.

Taron is the Marketing Manager at The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

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