Hydraulic hoses add flexibility to what would otherwise be an entirely rigid system. That’s an ironic perk, considering the very flexible nature of the energy transmission fluid. But it’s true, metal tubing is rigid and fixed. In addition to flexibility, hoses isolate noise propagating vibrations. Loaded with benefits, then, flexible conduits and their fittings must be every bit as reliable as any other hydraulically capable system component.
The Physical Dangers
Above all else, anyone who’s tasked with operating a mobile hydraulics rig must remember the following fact: hydraulic equipment is designed to contain dangerously high fluid pressures. If a hose or its fitting springs a leak, the hot oil isn’t just going to dribble messily down the machinery. No, the pressure-driven fluid will shoot out of the leak with the full impact of a hot bullet. An eye can be lost if someone is in the path of this jet-like force. Serious injuries are likely here, so the various equipment hoses absolutely require a performance-oriented testing program.
Standard Testing for Hydraulic Hoses
Take a look at a hose section on hydraulic equipment. Make sure it’s not in service, of course. The flexible conduit is metal armoured or reinforced with diamond-patterned threads of metal. It’s basically built to handle internal stresses, all while it retains its ability to bend and flex. All the same, we need to know its operational parameters, which then tell us the part’s safe working limits. Pushing performance to the limit, special testing rigs raise the MAWP (Maximum Allowable Working Pressure) of the hose to a point where it endures twice its rated pressure limitations. Sure to hold the hot, compressed oil during peak operating conditions and beyond, the hose proves itself rupture resistant.
MAWP Tested Hoses and Fittings
The hose alone represents a potential weak link, but we’re not really seeing the full picture. The fittings, including the tube-to-hose connectors, must be subjected to the same test regimen. Put together as a full system sub-assembly, the hoses and fittings are MAWP tested and safety-validated. Pulsed fluid tests and shock forces impact the assembly. Dimensional inspections and length changes are noted during the course of the standard testing program, and leaky products are sent packing. They’re rejected so that the tougher elastomers and armoured materials can make their presence known.
Again, and this fact is always worth repeating, hydraulic hoses and their fittings carry hazard potentiality. If there should be a rupture in the flexible material, it could cause serious harm. Fortunately, standard testing technology functions well as a performance-based hydraulic hose and fittings assessment process here, with the key parts pushed to their MAWP and beyond.
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