The Challenges of Hydraulic Hose Failure
Hose failure has presented a longstanding problem to operators of hydraulic equipment. Visual inspection is unable to prevent hose failures from occurring on a consistent basis. As a result, many organizations have turned to time-based preventative maintenance, using Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) as a metric for replacing equipment. However, this system has its own drawbacks — which we will address below.
A hose condition monitoring system offers an alternative solution to hydraulic hose failure, by offering predictive maintenance. Hose monitoring systems will deliver alerts in real time whenever there is a risk of a hose failure. With Eaton’s LifeSense product, this system is available in both wired and wireless options, allowing operator or remote monitoring.
II. Problem: The Costs of Hydraulic Hose Failure
Hydraulic hose failure can lead to a number of major costs for an organization. Depending on industry, certain costs may be more crucial to address than others — yet most will be an issue on some level:
A. Unplanned Downtime and Decreased Production
When a hydraulic hose fails, it can massively disrupt a business’s production. The costs of unplanned downtime can range from tens of thousands to millions per day in the oil & gas industry. See Fig 1 for examples.
B. Public and Environmental Safety
Hose failure represents a significant safety concern for workers, the environment, and the general public, depending on the application. In addition, dealing with personal injuries or a costly environmental clean-up effort can have a major impact on your organization’s reputation.
C. Collateral Damage, Repairs and Replacement
If a hydraulic hose fails at a critical moment, the result can cause major damage to nearby equipment, buildings, or other high-value items. It may also necessitate repairs or replacements for the piece of equipment in operation.
When you consider the fact that it has “traditionally been very common […] to run a component on a piece of equipment until has failed” (Eaton Hydraulics Group), it becomes clear that dealing with hydraulic hose failure creates an additional cost for organizations — due to the current reality of the technology.
III. Potential Solutions to Hydraulic Hose Failure
Operators of hydraulic equipment have developed several solutions to address the costs of hose failure, including (A) preventative maintenance, modeling the Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) of a component; and (B) predictive maintenance, installing electrified hose condition monitoring systems to deliver real time diagnostics.
This section will discuss the advantages and drawbacks of each potential solution.
A. Mean Time to Failure
Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) is a time-based preventative maintenance system, which models the life of a hydraulic hose component based on the following:
- Duty cycle
- Installation of the product
- Robustness of the product
MTTF allows operators to accurately predict the average life and conservative life of a hydraulic hose component. However, businesses are left with a choice when using MTTF: (1) remove the component after reaching its conservative lifespan and waste a potentially useful hose, or (2) remove the component closer to its average lifespan and risk an unexpected failure.
When using MTTF, there is no way to fully prevent hose failure — without discarding valuable equipment in the process. See Fig 2 below.
B. Hose Condition Monitoring System
A hose condition monitoring system is designed to offer a maintenance option that provides real time diagnostics on hydraulic equipment. Sensors are installed on each hose fitting and send electrical signals back to a hose diagnostic unit (HDU). The HDU will then provide visual alerts to the operator or remote monitor when the hose conditions indicate a potential failure.
Hose condition monitoring systems resolve the tradeoff of time-based maintenance. There is no need to choose between reducing risk and preserving useful equipment — both options are possible with this system. Hydraulic hose components can be swapped out exactly when they become damaged, without wasting any potential hose life. See Fig 3 below.
Although the upfront cost of installing a hose condition monitoring system represents an additional expense in the first year, the future savings of the system justify the investment for most businesses. With such clear benefits, the use of hose condition monitoring systems is likely to become commonplace in the future.
IV. Product Spotlight: Eaton LifeSense
Eaton’s LifeSense technology is the first intelligent hydraulic hose condition monitoring system on the market. The system models how certain properties of a hydraulic hose change as the hose approaches failure and uses these metrics to reliably assess the health of a component. Instead of predicting expected hose life, LifeSense measures current conditions to diagnose hose health in real time.
LifeSense is available in both wired and wireless formats, offering options for remote monitoring or operator usage. Wireless systems can be configured to send an email or SMS text message via WiFi or Ethernet, in addition to the standard visual alerts. The system will also transmit operational data automatically to a secure web portal where you can access system details.
At present, LifeSense is the only real time monitoring system on the market and Eaton’s patents will preserve this exclusivity for more than roughly the next decade.
While hydraulic hose failures have created many costly problems for businesses in the past, recent technological advances offer a promising solution. LifeSense is Eaton’s hose condition monitoring system, which offers real time diagnostics for operators of hydraulic equipment and indicates when a failure is imminent.
This solution resolves the tradeoff between reducing risk and avoiding equipment waste, which was an issue with past time-based maintenance practices. In addition, with a large segment of the fluid power workforce entering retirement, the use of diagnostics will make it easier for new technicians to enter this industry.
- Mike P. Beining, The new wave of Hydraulic System Monitoring (Eaton Corporation: Hydraulics Group), accessed June 19th, 2017, http://www.eaton.eu/PL/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@eaton/@hyd/documents/content/pct_1943913.pdf
- Kelly Moore-Floyd, Success Story: The Greenbrier® (Eaton Corporation: Hydraulics Group), accessed June 19th, 2017, http://www.eaton.com/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@eaton/@corp/documents/content/pct_683822.pdf
- Mary Gannon, Smart hydraulic hose provides easy condition monitoring (Hose Assembly Tips: A Fluid Power Resource), accessed June 19th, 2017, http://www.hoseassemblytips.com/smart-hydraulic-hose-provides-easy-condition-monitoring/
- Eaton LifeSense®: Hydraulic Hose Condition Monitoring System (Eaton Corporation: Hydraulics Group), accessed June 19th, 2017, http://www.eaton.com/ecm/groups/public/@pub/@eaton/@hyd/documents/content/pll_2588.pdf