At W.C. Branham, we take great pride in the quality of our products, which are built to last. Nonetheless, wear and tear is inevitable. Pneumatic cylinders used in industrial applications or in heavy machinery, for instance, often face extremely demanding working conditions. They are constantly moving, often fast and under tremendous force.
Most Common Pneumatic Cylinder Issues
Problems can vary according to the type of pneumatic cylinder and application, but there are some common symptoms you may see:
- The actuator is moving too slowly
- The cylinder is “drifting” out of position
- Cylinder movement is erratic
- Seals are visibly leaking
These issues can be caused by:
- Incorrect air supply – either too much air or low air pressure due to leakage
- Loose tie rods
- Worn, cracked, or torn seals
- Contamination (dirt or moisture)
- Off-center loads
Sometimes there’s a relatively easy fix
In some cases, you will have to disassemble and reassemble the cylinder, but repairing or replacing components can often keep downtime to a minimum and prolong the life of the cylinder. That gives you the best return on your investment. For this reason, W.C. Branham offers field repair kits for our cable cylinders and our pneU-SA rodless pneumatic cylinders, as well as our DURATRK and MAGTEC rodless cylinders. We recommend you stock a kit for each type of cylinder you’re using, so you can make repairs as quickly as possible.
But we all know the best offense is a good defense. So establish a regular schedule for inspections and preventive maintenance. Clean equipment performs best and lasts longest. Detecting and fixing small problems before they cause productivity problems or outright failures saves money and prevents costly downtime.
Always make sure the power supply is off and any leftover air has been released before beginning your pneumatic cylinder repair. This is a critical safety issue. Inspect the cylinder, tube, and rod seal – these are the most vulnerable components. Replace seals or make other repairs as soon as you detect damage.
Lubricate the following components, as necessary:
- Piston outer surface and rod surface
- Piston seal groove, plus the inner and outer surface
- Rod seal
- Rod seal groove on the rod cover
- Tube gaskets
- Tube inner surface
Sometimes it’s better to invest in a new cylinder
If you find extensive damage to your pneumatic cylinder, it’s probably time to replace the unit instead of trying to repair it. However, if you’re having repeat problems, you may be using the wrong pneumatic cylinder.
Before you replace your failing cylinder with the same product, talk to us. Pneumatic cylinders can be customized, and a custom-designed cylinder could give you the best performance. We can help you troubleshoot, to determine the best, most cost-effective long-term fix.