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Centralized Pneumatic: Fitting For Industry

Centralized pneumatic air tools (not to be confused with Central Pneumatic, a brand name) offer quite a bit in terms of pricing, variety, durability, and efficiency. The concept behind central pneumatic is simple: you acquire a single, powerful pneumatic pump that sits quietly in one corner of your facility. Long, airtight pneumatic lines extend from that central pump out to wherever the work needs to be done; on the far end, those lines connect to a wide variety of possible tools with pneumatic fittings.

The big advantage of having a central pneumatic system is that the individual tools that you attach to the end of each pneumatic line are significantly less expensive than the same tools that work using a battery or other ‘on-board’ power supply. As long as you maintain and upkeep the central pneumatic unit properly, it will last for decades under normal circumstances. Between the long-lasting central unit and the inexpensive end-tools, a central system can save you a lot of money.

Similarly, the ability to power virtually any tool that uses a pneumatic fitting means that as your needs change or one-off situations crop up, you can always just go get the tool you need for the job. If it’s a one-time thing, you can generally find a place to rent a tool — if it’s something you’ll need again soon, buying is naturally the better option.

When properly maintained, a central pneumatic pump can function with minimal trouble for dozens of years, even in a high-particulate environment like many industrial settings. Depending on the quality of the tools you purchase, you can find tools that are cheap and need frequent replacement, or that are quite costly and will also last for decades. Which is the better choice for your business model is up to you.

Because all of your pneumatic power comes from a single source, but the end points are several, you gain efficiency. Specifically, you gain cost efficiency because you don’t have to replace the entire pneumatic system when an individual tool breaks. It’s much more common for a tool, which takes beatings and gets handled daily, to break down compared to the central unit that sits in the corner pushing air day after day.

Preventative Maintenance: Hydraulic Pumps

There’s no such thing as a part that doesn’t need maintenance, and that includes hydraulic pumps. Proper maintenance not only keeps parts working in the short term, but it reduces maintenance and replacement costs in the long term as well. The alternative leads to many minor problems in the short term that can become disastrous if left unattended. Preventative maintenance gives the best of all possible results.

For a hydraulic pump, preventative maintenance can be a fairly complex, multi-step process. Regardless of what else you’ll be doing to your pump, the first step is always to disconnect it from the power supply.

Basic Maintenance
Generally, the next step is to check the level of hydraulic fluid inside the pump. When all of the actuators are fully extended, the fluid level in the pump should be able halfway from the top. If it needs fluid, obviously, you should add more — if it seems to need fluid often, you should check the system for a leak.

Every so often (as dictated by your owner’s manual) you should drain the fluid from your hydraulic pump and give it a flush. Basically, you’re washing out the inside of the system, getting any particulate that might damage your hydraulic cylinders or other moving parts out. Then, refill with fresh hydraulic fluid.

Preventative Maintenance Example
Your owner’s manual should also explain how often you ought to clean the pump. While every system is different, a common example follows:

  • Remove the screws that attach the motor and pump assembly to the reservoir. Be careful not to damage the gasket or jolt the filter or pressure regulating valves while you extract the pump and motor.
  • Clean the inside of the reservoir, and refill with a suitable flushing fluid.
  • Place the pump and motor assembly back onto the reservoir, and attach with at least two screws on opposite sides of the mounting.
  • Run the pump for several minutes to clean it and flush out the system, then remove the motor and pump again.
  • Drain and clean the inside of the reservoir a second time.
  • Reassemble the entire unit completely, and fill with fresh, clean hydraulic fluid up to the fill line.