Maintenance Strategies for Pneumatic Actuators – Preventive Maintenance

Jeremy King from Bimba Manufacturing continues his discussion on the most difficult challenges facing manufacturers and OEMs as they compete to reach their production targets. With their equipment running at maximum loads, how can they avoid breakdowns in pneumatic components? What are the smartest and most economical approaches available to assure optimal performance? Recent advances in sensor technology make it possible to obtain performance-related data from which more informed decisions can be made about the need to replace failing components. This blog series analyzes the different maintenance strategies for pneumatic actuators and the role sensors can play in each.

Preventive Maintenance
Preventive maintenance is the practice of replacing a component on a set schedule.

Advantages:
• Makes it easier to budget repairs
• Prolongs life of entire system
• Supports product quality
• Schedules maintenance

Drawbacks:
• Could replace an actuator that is still workable
• Failure can still occur without warning

When to use:
Preventive maintenance is not practical if the cost of maintaining the component is lower than the costs associated with its failure. When calculating the cost of component failure it is important to consider the effect one component has on the lives of other components in the system. Product quality can be influenced by component failures. Breakdowns in the middle of a production run could cause the loss of product, from a single unit to an entire batch.

Role of sensors:
Preventive maintenance of pneumatic actuators is based on time in service or number of cycles. Because of the cyclical nature of preventive maintenance, that is, its occurrence on a set schedule, sensors play a limited role in this strategy. But new technologies allow pressure sensors to be installed near actuators where they can provide cycle count data. No longer is a magnetic rod and switch required to monitor cylinder position.

In next week’s blog Mr. King will continue his discussion with the advantages/drawbacks in condition-based/predictive maintenance.

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