A lot can go wrong with air cylinders, and when any problem could lead to downtime, damage, or equipment failure, troubleshooting each issue can get complicated. Preventive maintenance can keep air cylinders running at optimum performance levels and reveal telltale signs that you might need to repair them. Look for these six telltale signs you may need air cylinder repairs.
Your air cylinder may need repair if you notice any of these warning signs:
- Failure to move (or actuate) or slow actuation. Lack of movement is a clear sign that something is wrong. Monitoring actuating pressure can help avoid system breakdown.
- Requiring higher than normal pressure to actuate. If pilot control pressure is too low, the control line may be too small or the metering choke valve could be malfunctioning. Also, there may be mechanical binding between the working load and the air cylinder, so check to make sure that the parallelism is maintained.
- Visual corrosion or excessive wear.
- Hissing noises.
- Load pulsing. Air cylinders are known for their smooth, almost silent movement. If you notice a change, it’s probably not running right.
- Intermittent start-up. When cylinders run at overload capacity, seals are subjected to higher stress and friction rates. Rod ends bend or break, and actuators can come apart. In a system with speed control or energy-absorbing devices, pressure spikes can also occur above normal system pressures.
The Price of Ignoring Air Cylinder Problems
Missing any of these signs can be costly. If your air cylinder isn't properly cared for, you'll likely notice production downtime as well as potential damage to machinery and the products you're making. But ignoring warning signs and skipping regular maintenance carries ongoing costs, not to mention drastically reducing the lifespan of the air cylinder and the equipment it's used in.
Even if you're maintaining your equipment regularly and checking for signs of disrepair, it's always a good idea to order a replacement air cylinder or rebuild kit for your storeroom for unexpected emergencies to minimize costs and maximize uptime.