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Understanding the Lifespan of Hydraulic Pumps

Hydraulic Pumps
A hydraulic pump is the core of any hydraulic transmission system. The pump transforms mechanical energy into hydraulic energy, which consists of pressure and flow. Every hydraulic pump has a life expectancy limit. Beyond this limit, operational efficiency diminishes and machine safety may be compromised.
Read on to learn more about the life expectancy of hydraulic pumps and how you can maximize longevity.
Basics of Hydraulic Pump Lifespan 
Manufacturers rate the lifespan of a hydraulic pump based on the number of hours the pump is expected to operate at a certain pressure and speed limit. The component that primarily determines the life expectancy of a pump is the shaft bearing. The bearing supports the hydraulic load exerted on a pump's impellers, belt drive, and shaft coupling.
Speed and pressure directly influence the lifespan of the shaft bearing, which in turn affects pump longevity.
On average, the lifespan of a bearing is inversely proportionate to the bearing's rotation per minute (RPM). A reduction in the RPM or shaft speed results in an increase in the lifespan of the pump.
The amount of pressure a hydraulic pump delivers is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A reduction of hydraulic pressure prolongs the lifespan of the pump.
Overall, to maximize the lifespan of a hydraulic pump, operate hydraulic equipment at relatively low speeds and pressure levels.
Factors Affecting Hydraulic Pump Lifespan 
In addition to bearing speed and the resultant pressure, other operating conditions can influence the life expectancy of a hydraulic pump.
Dirty hydraulic oil drastically diminishes pump efficiency. While most hydraulic pumps come with an efficient filtration system, with time, these filters clog and need to be replaced.
To prolong the life of hydraulic pumps, consider using long-term contamination control methods. A solid contamination control strategy not only eliminates dirt and debris but should also keep contaminants from entering the system at all.
While filters can help prevent some contaminants from intermixing with the oil, but they do have limitations. Consider additional methods such as magnetic filtration or centrifugation to remove minute debris from the hydraulic system.
When determining whether to invest in additional contamination control methods, factor in the cost of replacing the pump and the impact of any pump-related downtime on your bottom line.  
Excessive Pressure 
Too much pressure in a hydraulic system is a safety risk and can reduce a pump's lifespan. To ensure the pump is operating at ideal pressure levels, monitor relief valves regularly.
Adhere to manufacturer specifications regarding the positioning of the relief valve. Correct placement of the valve will depend on the specific pump circuitry or the type of pump.
Pump pulsation results from sudden acceleration and deceleration of energy within the hydraulic system, which disrupts the smooth flow of fluid in the system.
Pulsation can wear down parts of the pump and therefore minimize pump efficiency. A reputable hydraulic systems technician may recommend several measures to eliminate pulsation. For example, you could install a dampener at the head of the pump or alter the plumbing configurations.
A misaligned pump shaft can create bearing fatigue and slow down operations. Regular pump maintenance can help you detect and repair a misaligned shaft.
Restricted Flow
Liquid pumps require enough fluid for lubrication and optimal performance. A wrongly sized pump feed line will restrict the flow of fluid into the pump, resulting in corrosion and excessive heat. A combination of these factors can severely damage a hydraulic pump.
While hydraulic pumps are generally sturdy and robust, they are also prone to wear and tear. Regular maintenance and operating your pump in optimal circuit conditions can help you get the most from the pump for longer.
Carolina Hose & Hydraulics, Inc., is the one-stop shop for top brand hydraulic pumps and maintenance services. Call us today to learn more about our services.