Des-Case Breathers Save Metal Casting Facility Nearly $30,000

Metal casting is a common manufacturing process capable of producing large, complex parts for industrial applications. This industry is rapidly growing due to its ability to create lightweight, aluminum parts. In metal casting facilities, hydraulic units are essential to powering conveyors that transport product throughout the casting process. Uptime of the transport conveyors in this industry is crucial for production, and hydraulic failures are a common cause of downtime. Studies show that 80 percent of these hydraulic failures are caused by contaminated fluid.

The Challenge

A large foundry in the UK noticed their oil samples on a 1585 gal (6000 L) hydraulic unit were hazy, indicating water contamination, and decided to take an oil sample to identify the extent of the problem. The results came back showing over 450ppm of water in the reservoir, putting the equipment at risk for component failure and potential downtime. It was determined that the source of ingression was the humid air surrounding the equipment, ingested through the standard OEM vent ports that do not remove moisture or small particles from the air, allowing the ambient moisture and particulates to easily enter the equipment. Instead of replacing the contaminated oil, the facility investigated options for removing the moisture and better protecting the reservoir.
  • Equipment Type: Hydraulic power unit
  • Reservoir Size: 1585 gal (6000 L)
  • Oil Type: Hydraulic 46cs

The Solution

To solve the contamination issue Des-Case recommended installing two DC-VG-4s on the reservoir. This solution was based on the idea that the Des-Case breathers’ hygroscopic function would dry out the moisture already in the reservoir, as well as prevent more from coming in. This is a cost effective solution that is simple to implement and maintain. The Des-Case breathers replace the current vent caps and are visually monitored for saturation.

The Results

After 2 weeks, the Des-Case breathers visually indicated saturation of the desiccant at the top of the breather. This is indicative that the breathers pulled moisture out of the reservoir headspace, which in turn lowered the water content in the oil. To confirm, the company took an oil sample. The oil sample taken was clear and no longer hazy. With oil analysis, they saw that the Des-Case desiccant breathers did indeed remove the moisture contamination of the oil. The results from just two weeks using desiccant breathers showed <50ppm water, classifying the oil as dry. As the breathers continue to actively protect the equipment, the oil will remain clean and dry. If the company would have replaced the oil due to moisture ingress, it would have cost them about $15,000 for an oil change, labor hours, and COSHH hazards costs handling the oil. By simply using Des-Case desiccant breathers, they avoided having to replace the oil and extended their lubricant and equipment life by three to five times. The company used to change the oil annually and have now gone over two years without needing to change it, proven by monthly oil analysis. Based on two avoided oil changes, installing Des-Case breathers has saved nearly $30,000 and counting based on oil cost alone.

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