Pushing the boundaries of fluid power

Everyone has different ideas on which component is most crucial to helping industrial equipment run. Some argue that bearings matter the most, as they hold everything together, while others claim that belts are the backbone of keeping things in motion. Needless to say, every element plays a role, and one missing or damaged part could mean catastrophe for operators.

Hydraulic hoses are a critical piece of equipment for many industrial sites, and experience some of the toughest conditions inside fluid power machinery. Typically, they consist of multiple reinforced layers of braided tubing, designed to transport water and oil emulsions between key components.

The MegaSys portfolio of industrial-grade hydraulic hosing from Gates boasts complete, universally applicable fluid power solutions. Included in this range is the MXT, MXG 4K, and MXG 5K hoses. According to Arshad Ashroff, product manager for Fluid Power at Gates Australia, each of these units supersedes expectations in terms of durability and power capacity.

“These products incorporate fairly new technology that is unique to Gates and patent pending in the US currently,” Ashroff said. “They can be used on a diverse range of hydraulic applications across manufacturing, construction, agriculture, mining, and any other sort of heavy equipment industry.”

Ashroff has a background in mechanical engineering, and started working with Gates four years ago as a product specialist. Having recently taken on the role as product manager, he utilises many years of industry experience to deliver expert advice on hosing and other equipment.

“When it comes to the MXT, the key benefits are flexibility and lightweight design. They are 40 per cent more flexible, and 30 per cent more lightweight than standard, comparable hoses on the market. They are also tested to 600,000 cycles, which is an incredibly impressive impulse criteria,” Ashroff said.

“The MXG 4K and 5K are different because they meet a one million impulse rating, and the 5K includes the new Xpiral woven technology that was invented by Gates. Essentially it uses lighter weight steel for the reinforcement, allowing for the same high-standard performance, again with added flexibility.”

Rob Michelson, national product manager at Motion Australia, explains that the MegaSys full spectrum solution follows through on reliably smart design, and has impressive capacity for volume and speed transfer.

“The focus on flexibility and more lightweight materials directly addresses customer needs, and for that reason the MXT range is widely popular in every sector that we service,” he said. “These features just make them much easier to handle, while still outperforming the industry baseline.”

Ashroff points out that a lot of the premium elements of the hosing products come down to Gates’ commitment to continual improvement and model upgrades. Building on decades of experience supplying to customers worldwide, they utilise feedback and incorporate it at the initial concept or improvement phase.

“We invest a lot of time and resources into research and development, which is demonstrated by our standard of product,” Ashroff said. “We recently innovated on a coupling solution – the Gates MegaCrimp – which is directly compatible with this family of hoses. They are a leak-proof seal that incorporates concentric crimping, and have been known to surpass one million impulse cycles.”

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Fluid Power Conference Takes Aim at Environmental Challenges

The National Fluid Power Association will hold its quarterly conference on Dec. 2, and it will be presented as a live, interactive webinar to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The show’s organizers will broadcast the conference to attendees online using the Remo Online Conference Platform.

The theme of the conference is “Advanced Technologies for Eco-Friendly Fluid Power Systems,” which is supported by the three presentations scheduled for the event, which runs from 8:00 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. (EST).

The presentations include:

“Sustainability & Manufacturing,” given by Chris Bortnik; VP of engineering at Schroeder Industries, LLC. He will discuss ways of making high-horsepower, off-highway equipment and high-volume industrial fluid systems more carbon neutral while letting users maintain profits. Some of the solutions include reducing the volume of fluid used in systems, and reducing or eliminating how frequently companies dispose of used fluids.

“4 techniques to achieve Eco-Friendly Fluid Power System Designs for Industrial Machinery,” given by Neal Gigliotti, an application engineering manager at Bosch Rexroth Corp. His talk will give attendees insights into using conventional fluid power technologies and new engineering techniques to increase efficiencies, reduce noise and use less oil when cooling requirements allow it.

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Basic Machine Safety for Hydraulic Fluid Power

Failure modes of control circuits and any potential for stored energy must be understood and identified before safety functions for hydraulic fluid power using a control or isolation process can be properly designed into a machine. Could faults, such as sticky valves, hose failure, stored energy, or blocked flow paths, lead to a failure or exposure to danger?

The answer often is yes, and the potential danger these create should not be overlooked in the hazard identification process required by law. Contamination, lack of lubrication, condensation, silting, cavitation, aeration, rupture, leakage, blockage, intensification, wear, mechanical failure, poor maintenance, or circuit design are just some of the potential causes for a failure to danger within a fluid power circuit.

For example, we can identify a hazard inherent to circuit design which has led to accidents if we analyze a typical pneumatic circuit where a cylinder is controlled by a 5-port, 2-position single-solenoid spring return valve, shown in the illustration. Consider that the valve’s solenoid is de-energized when the machine’s protective guard is open. With no electrical power to the solenoid, compressed air flows into the rod-end of the cylinder.

Just because the solenoid of a 5-port, 2-position valve is not energized, pressure most likely remains in one of the lines feeding the cylinder, posing a potentially unsafe condition.

If the potential crushing hazard could only cause minor bruising and was assessed as requiring a Category 1 solution, then using a double-solenoid 3-position valve instead would exhaust air to a de-energized state. If a serious or irreversible injury could occur, the required fault detection of Categories 2, 3, and 4 could be met by providing 3/2 monitored safety interlock valves upstream of the directional control valve. Doing so would safely block incoming compressed air and bleed residual pressure from the both air lines to the cylinder. This would be suitable for cylinders mounted horizontally, but gravity loads require additional analysis and measures.

What Goes Up Must Come Down
As we know, gravity dictates that vertical loads fall if there is nothing holding them up. Rupture of hoses or single component failures in control valves, check valves, or counterbalance valves typically used in fluid power gravity load applications could lead to a hazardous condition. While undertaking failure modes and effects analysis of systems, we often observe clients assessing their slow-moving gravity loads as Category 3.

This is because they have a risk of serious injury and a high frequency of exposure. Their justification for selecting Category 3 over Category 4 is that they believe a good possibility of avoidance exists due to the slow speed of operation under normal control. If a failure occurred, would the load move slowly?

Consider a press where a flexible line runs from the bottom (cap end) of the cylinder back to a counterbalance valve. If the hose ruptures, the tooling could descend rapidly. This is where monitored valves fitted directly to the cylinder port or monitored rod-locking devices might become part of the safety solution—in some cases, both. By interlocking these safety devices with electromechanical locked guarding, operator access can easily be prevented until safe valve or rod lock position has been confirmed.

Read more: Basic Machine Safety for Fluid Power


Malone Specialty Inc.

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