FRL are crucial in production performance and machine safety. Ensuring that correct devices are chosen and properly maintained is very important. What can engineers do to ensure equipment continually functions properly?
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Why does the equipment fail?
There are several factors that can cause pneumatic equipment to fail or not work as efficiently as it should.
One of the main reasons that pneumatic equipment fails is due to side-mount loading. The aim of the valve is to shift during operation, in a push-pull type of motion. It’s important to assess the efficiency of the valve during its motion rather than whilst it is stationary, as you might not spot the right errors or there could be seemingly no problems when the product is still.
It’s recommended that you avoid piston rod side-load mounting when aiming to achieve the maximum operating performance out of your pneumatic equipment. Side-load mounting can cause problems due to misalignment, rod deflections, off-centre loads, long stroke action or imprecise tie-rod torque. The pivot mounts would be moving in an arc motion when the rod is loading in this manner, thus causing the above issues.
To avoid this, whilst installing make sure that you take the necessary care to properly align the load – this will ensure that the load moves with the cylinder’s centre line. The alignment of the cylinder piston rod should also be checked against the machine it will be operating with, in both its retracted and extended positions.
If the cylinder isn’t correctly aligned with the machinery, this will cause excessive wear to the rod gland and/or cylinder bore. This can cause a shortened lifespan of both products and will lead them to being replaced more often than they necessarily would if they were cared for properly. Wear can also occur if the pivot pins or mounting bolts are working themselves loose during usage, so these should be regularly inspected too.
In order to maintain your pneumatic equipment, you will want to consider the following.
1. Use the right level of filtration
By selecting the right level of filtration to suit the applications you are using, you will manage your energy costs better and produce less waste. Unnecessary levels of treatment will increase the amount of energy used due to the resistance of some filters. For example, a coalescing filter will have a stronger resistance than a coarser filter.
2. Research the filters
Not all filters will work the same. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution for hydraulics and pneumatics. As a rule of thumb, the higher-quality air filters will have a lower pressure drop than the low-quality ones will. Low-quality air filters also have a tendency to clog much quicker than high-quality ones. Also look at the energy consumption of the filter at maximum rated flow, as well as the typical usage flow you will be performing at. Make sure you invest in the right equipment for your pneumatic processing and get something built to last.
3. Use regulators
Unregulated pressure settings can cause a higher demand for compressed air by the machinery, which will in turn increase the amount of energy expended. Pneumatic equipment operating at higher pressure levels than recommended will waste the compressed air and cause components to wear out faster. This will cause higher demand for maintenance, higher costs, and a shorter lifespan for your equipment.
4. Use the right sized lubricators
For parts that are moving and will be rubbing against each other, they will require some form of lubrication to avoid excess wear and damage to each component. Air-line lubricators will inject a pre-measured amount of oil mist or fog into the stream of air on the machinery.