Top 3 Unique Pneumatic Directional Valve SolutionsJanuary 27, 2023
Observe the fundamentals when maintaining your pneumatic system.
Fundamentals to reduce downtime & increase production on your pneumatic system
Observing the fundamentals on your pneumatic systems applies to the maintenance of pneumatic equipment. In order to reduce downtime and increase production, you must:
- read the manuals
- keep the system clean
- maintain lubrication
- visually check system performance
- take constant notes
Because pneumatic systems require a specific sequence of operation that relies on pressure sensing and controls, a simple oversight may increase down time. In all instances, we must ensure that the system operation remains safe.
Manuals contain important information
Manuals contain important information about operation, installation, and lubrication of the system. A schematic drawing of the system shows how components function and provides the locations for pressure test points, regulator and valve pressure settings, air motor speeds plus the parts list. Manuals may include updates, typical problem lists, and troubleshooting information. The maintenance schedule includes crucial information about daily, monthly, semiannual, and annual maintenance tasks.
Keep the system clean
Many service problems begin with the quality of the air flowing through the system and also out of the system through the exhaust. Contaminants flowing into the system will cause fatigue wear and abrasive wear on system components. Preventive maintenance involves changing filters and confirming that clean, dry, and oil-free air flows through the system. While some manuals advise to drain the air-line filter daily, other maintenance schedules prescribe draining the filter once a week and inspecting the discharge air filter monthly. The maintenance schedule may recommend the cleaning of the intake air filter every six months and the replacement of cartridge air filters once a year.
Lubricate the pneumatic system
Lubricating the system according to a maintenance schedule and using the correct oil will maximize system life and performance. Applications may require lightweight oils for some applications or high viscosity oils for others. The lack of lubrication or the use of an improper lubricant will cause an actuator to slow and a piston, tappet, or other components to overheat. With repeated overheating, a bearing may seize and cause erratic torque or a piston may break and damage the cylinder bore.
Conduct visual inspections
A visual inspection includes the filters and ensures that the lines remain free of moisture, dirt and oil. The visual checklist should verify the operation of safety and pressure relief valves as well as the condition of lines and hoses. Fittings should have a tight fit with no leaks. When checking for damaged or loose parts on tools, ensure that safety devices remain in place. All manual controls should move freely and all moving components within the system should align and have smooth movement.
The system pressure must remain within the parameters specified by the manufacturer. Pneumatic systems control pressure after the compressor for safety and after the air receiver tank for consistent pressure. Low pressure may point towards leaks in the system and slow tool performance while higher-than-normal pressure can damage components and cause safety problems.
Take precise notes
Keep precise notes about the performance of the system, record any changes that have occurred, and list any problems. Your notes should describe how the system operates, at what point in the cycle the problem occurred, and if the problem occurred suddenly or gradually. All this information will assist your next troubleshooting efforts.