What Are The Signs Of Wear And Tear In Pneumatic Components?

Post By: Holly Shaw On: 20-02-2024 Read Time: 4 minutes - Guides - Pneumatics

Wear and tear is inevitable in any mechanical system, and you'll always find points of weakness. Pneumatic cylinders are particularly vulnerable, but you'll have a head start if you recognise the signs of wear and tear and what they're telling you. Proper system maintenance is the best way to keep your pneumatic system functioning optimally. You can incorporate predictive maintenance into your procedures if you're already geared up for Industry 4.0 technologies.

Common Signs Of Wear And Tear

While regular preventive maintenance will keep your system optimised, you'll need to recognise these common signs of wear and tear:

  • Premature wear or visible corrosion

  • Hissing noises

  • Intermittent start-up

  • Slow or no actuation

  • Excessive pressure is required to actuate

  • Load pulsing

Premature Wear Or Visible Corrosion

Harsh environmental conditions like extreme temperatures, high humidity or chemicals can cause damage and eventual failure. Look out for pitting, erosion or rust on your pneumatic cylinder body or end caps.

Hissing Noises

Hissing sounds are an obvious sign of leakage. Check for wear or damage at vulnerable points to prevent pressure loss and reduced performance.‍

Intermittent Start-Up

Overworked and overloaded cylinders will cause component damage and possible pressure spikes that make system start-up unstable, especially if energy-absorbing or speed-control devices are involved.‍

Slow Or No Actuation

Something is wrong if your actuator is sluggish or static. You might have too much air choke caused by an incorrectly adjusted flow control valve or a silencer, filter or tube blockage. Keep a critical eye on the actuating pressure to prevent a complete system breakdown.‍

Excessive Pressure Needed To Actuate

You might have low pilot control pressure if the metering choke valve has failed or the control line is undersized. ‍Check also for leaks, blockages and other damage.

Load Pulsing

If your pneumatic cylinders aren't smooth and practically silent in operation, it's a sure sign of malfunction.

What Are The Signs Of Wear And Tear In Pneumatic Components

Signs Of Imminent Failure In Pneumatic Cylinders

Several reasons your pneumatic cylinder might fail include side loading, inadequate lubrication and contamination. Additionally, your system might suffer from synchronisation issues or exceed its operational parameters.

Side Loading Issues

If you see signs like cylinder tube scoring, seal failure and uneven or accelerated wear on bearings and piston rods, you may have a side loading problem. These signs of damage result from lateral pressure on the axis due to incorrect installation of the pneumatic cylinder.

Inadequate Lubrication Problems

If your seals are drying out, cracking or leaking, this indicates inadequate lubrication. Pneumatic cylinder seals need thorough and constant lubrication to prevent this.

Contamination Issues

If your system seems underperforming or components aren't functioning correctly, it could indicate contamination. You should monitor and regulate your filtration levels carefully to prevent system failure.

Synchronisation Issues

If your system runs on multiple pneumatic cylinders, every component must be perfectly synchronised. Otherwise, the machinery will cease functioning correctly and crash the entire system. You'll need careful monitoring and management to ensure that complex pneumatic cylinder systems are not out of sync.

Exceeding Operational Parameters

If you operate a pneumatic cylinder outside its intended parameters, poor performance and system failure are inevitable. Always observe the manufacturer's prescribed parameters to avoid exposure to excessive loads and undue stress on the cylinder's internal components. Conduct regular checks to ensure they're not exceeded.

Fundamentals Of Preventive Maintenance For Pneumatic Components

There's no hard and fast guarantee that pneumatic components won't fail. Even if you haven't adopted new technologies, you can save on costly downtime when you carry out regular preventive maintenance. Regular and consistent maintenance schedules can help reduce unplanned downtime and make your system more cost-effective. These are some of the essential elements of maintaining pneumatic components:

  • Ensure all components are correctly installed, making your system last much longer. ‍It might seem obvious, but this is one of the most critical factors in preventive maintenance. Even using incorrect tools to carry out an installation can directly affect the system's longevity and functionality.

  • Ensure all fasteners are torqued adequately so your tie rods are installed correctly.

  • Install filters or FRL units only per the manufacturers' specifications and initiate a regular cleaning and maintenance programme. This will help protect your pneumatic system from damaging contaminants.

  • Check frequently for rust or other damage. The tube, cylinder and rod seal are the most susceptible to wear and tear. Contaminants may also be introduced via worn or rusted fittings.

  • Make sure exterior surfaces and moving parts are always free of dust or dirt that could cause friction and premature wear.

  • Ensure all components are correctly lubricated, especially around the piston, tube, rod, seals and gaskets. Seals are especially susceptible to leaking, cracking or other deterioration and require regular checks and replacement.

Finally, don't forget health and safety considerations. Before performing any maintenance procedures, you must always ensure the power is switched off and the system depressurised.

Recognising The Signs Of Wear And Tear In Pneumatic Components

Knowing how to spot the signs of wear and tear is an essential first step in identifying problems. Adopting a preventive maintenance programme will also help keep your system running smoothly.

Pneumatics are increasing in efficiency and complexity as intelligent systems become more popular and widely adopted. This means that problems in these systems also become more complex and challenging to understand. It's not so simple to maintain and repair them any more and keep them running at the highest level of operational efficiency.

Components are becoming much more advanced, with electronic elements that require specialist knowledge. Rowse has a team of experienced and knowledgeable customer service personnel who are always happy to help.