Connectors, fittings and adapters are often overlooked pieces of equipment, but they play an important role in nearly every hydraulic application—whether your systems move, turn, shape, mold, lift, dig or haul.
Although these solutions may seem purely ancillary, making purchase decisions based solely on price can often negatively impact entire operations. The consequences may even end up costing more than you saved on the initial investment due to shortened equipment life, heightened maintenance requirements and poor performance.
To help ensure your hydraulic systems operate to the best of their ability, the following article will provide key factors to consider when selecting connectors, fittings and adapters. By inspecting for these characteristics before buying components, you can enable your fluid conveyance systems to look better, last longer and operate more efficiently.
1. Standardized to fit any application
Adapters, fittings and connectors should all be designed and manufactured to meet Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards. Meeting these standards means all products are rigorously tested, and when combined with other SAE components, will provide optimal system performance
When used with other fluid conveyance products, SAE-approved adapters will also allow systems to operate at higher pressures for optimized efficiency and eliminate concerns with interchangeability.
2. Designed with corrosion resistant materials
Corrosion resistance is a necessity on nearly every application of hydraulic fluid conveyance products, as unplated carbon steel fluid conveyance products can begin rusting within hours of exposure to the elements.
Whether you work in oil and gas, construction, agriculture, mining and metals, machine building, manufacturing or transportation – moisture, grit, salt spray and harsh conditions can quickly compromise your equipment. This is a particularly risky scenario in remote locations when replacement components can be hard to come by and downtime simply isn’t an option.
To help avoid this situation, look for products that are tested in accordance to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) B117 salt spray requirement, which is used to evaluate the relative corrosion resistance of coated and uncoated materials exposed to a salt spray or fog at an elevated temperature. Some manufacturers can even provide solutions rated up to 1,000 hours of corrosion resistance, enabling protection that far exceeds SAE requirements.
3. Quality control
In addition to peace of mind when it comes to standardization, products that meet SAE design criteria provide the user with an assurance that products have been rigorously tested and provide optimal performance. When looking for the right solution, ask your distributor or the manufacturer if they can guarantee the quality of products and manufacturing processes.
For example, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides technical specifications aimed at the development of quality management systems that provide for continual improvement, defect prevention, reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain. Manufacturers with ISO certified plants provide better quality control and manufacturing accuracy to provide confidence when purchasing components.
The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) Production Part Approval Process is also commonly used in the supply chain to help establish confidence in component suppliers and their production processes. Actual measurements are taken of the parts produced and are used to complete the various test sheets of PPAP.
The PPAP process is designed to demonstrate that the component supplier has developed their design and production process to meet the client’s requirements, minimizing the risk of failure down the road.
Regardless of market conditions, look for a reliable supplier with a proven history of success that is able to react quickly to customer demands and needs. It is most often best to look for manufacturers with products that are available globally through a wide network of distributors with no restrictions for purchasing. These elements can often lead to better cost positioning with enhanced lead times to better support project needs.
5. Systems approached engineering
Beyond simply supplying products, some manufacturers can offer customers and distributors with application engineering and consultation services to help get the job done right.
Support with system design, analysis, build, and project management can help ensure hydraulic systems are optimized for smooth, reliable operation and properly integrated for the job your equipment needs to get done.
With an emphasis on precision and accuracy, manufacturers with dedicated application engineering teams provide a focused and systematic approach to enhance your system’s performance and ensure that your overall system operate more reliably, efficiently and safely. These engineers can also leverage years of experience engineering and analyzing systems containing multiple manufacturers’ equipment.
Hydraulics products and solutions should always deliver the performance you need to stay competitive. By performing due diligence when making purchasing decisions, you can enable your fluid conveyance systems to look better, last longer and operate more efficiently.
Although these best practices were outlined for hydraulic components, it is always vital to ensure pumps, motors, transmissions, valves, cylinders, controls, hose and fittings offer a unique combination of proven technology and innovative design that translates directly into reliable performance and enhanced uptime.
Whether you need a single component, a custom-engineered solution, or anything in between, look for a trusted manufacturer that can offer the right blend of expertise, quality control and availability.
Canan Myers manages the specialty metals portfolio for Eaton’s hydraulics business, which includes couplings, adapters, connectors and joints. She has nine years of experience with Eaton. Myers received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University with a concentration in Supply Chain Management, and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Findlay.