A Digital Transformation is at Hand for Manufacturers with Hydraulic Assets

It has been challenge for small industrial operations to envision how their organization can make a digital transformation.   With a factories, replete with legacy equipment that can be up to 50 years old in some instances, the case for connecting existing machinery to an Industrial IoT infrastructure to move data securely into the Cloud is often a tremendous reach. However, when Parker Hannifin launched their Industrial IoT platform, The Voice of the Machine (, a viable option for many industrial operators who sought to leverage IIoT became accessible. What differentiates Parker Hannifin’s  IIoT platform is the development of a portfolio of wireless sensors for air pressure and hydraulic fluid monitoring. These sensors can be adapted to virtually any industrial machine by placing the sensors in line with fluid or air hoses and manifolds.  This is one of the first IIoT deployments on the market that have addressed the sensor to Cloud monitoring infrastructure. Many of the details are readily available on their website on the implementation however, what is significant is that the Voice of the Machine is more than another IIoT platform, but is a viable option for many small manufacturers who would seek to make a transformational change in their maintenance practices.

class=image-5399Consider the implications of making a transformational change from routine manual maintenance procedures used in many factories with hydraulic systems in plastics machinery, power generation systems, and metal press fabrication machinery. The best practices for hydraulic system maintenance are specific to each of these industries and applications where machine design features and environmental conditions are factors in developing a coherent routine maintenance strategy for a facility or individual machine. The industry uses the ISO 4406-1999 cleanliness codes to quantify the particulate contamination of the hydraulic fluids however the range code for each machine is determined by the manufacturers’ most sensitive specification for the servo valves, cylinders, or pumps.   These metrics are used for initiating maintenance, however other factors influencing maintenance practices include the specific environmental and operational characteristics within a given industry.

Fluid monitoring using taps and differential pressure switches has been the cornerstone of every preventive maintenance program. Sampling on a regular basis provides an indicator of the overall health of a system. Sampling periods will depend on the specific type of fluid and the associated lubricity. To facilitate monitoring, a primary consideration is the location of the taps used to draw samples. To retrieve accurate samples, a tap should be located close to either the hydraulic manifold or the servo valve. A tap located between the cylinder and the hydraulic manifold, but preferably closer to the manifold, provides a sample that will be representative of the contaminants in the system. A tap located close to a servo valve enables users to observe the condition of the fluid entering the valve. Clean oil can become contaminated as it passes through the system. Laser techniques are currently the most accurate and fastest method for evaluating the hydraulic sample. Both water and particulates can be identified in the oil sample using this technique. However, if particle sizes vary widely, laser analysis can result in inaccuracies. It’s essential to educate users to be able accurately interpret the oil analysis report. Secondly, a clear, concise set of rules for corrective actions needs to be established for when water in hydraulic fluids becomes problematic. If water problems persist, electrostatic filters can mitigate the effects of electrical arcs.

Building an IIoT ecosystem based on the Voice of the Machine is a viable alternative to manual fluid sampling procedures used in many operations. In line fluid monitoring sensors that are adapted to critical fluid lines will push data securely to a Cloud infrastructure that can be monitored by using analytical tools in the Cloud. The availability of the sensors is a significant component of the solution, however the deployment in the Cloud offers manufacturers a solution that can be incorporated into their facility without having to allocate capital for an IT deployment and software purchases. The options for digital enterprise once available only to those large manufacturers with large capital budgets has become increasingly more realizable to virtually every small manufacturer today.

“Reprinted with permission, original blog was posted here”. You may also visit here for more such insights on the digital transformation of industry.

 About ARC Advisory Group ( Founded in 1986, ARC Advisory Group is a Boston based leading technology research and advisory firm for industry and infrastructure.

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 About the Author:

Sal Spada

Research Director Discrete Automation

Sal is part of the Discrete Automation team at ARC. His responsibilities include studies in the Worldwide CNC, North American General Motion Control, and Servo Drive markets.

Sal’s focus areas include General Motion Control, Material Handling, Machine Safeguarding, Computer Numerical Controllers, Robotics, and Servo Drives.

 Sal has over 15 years direct experience in motion control system design as a software developer, project manager, and product marketing manager. In the area of Computer Numerical Control (CNC), his concentration has been in implementing high speed contouring algorithms in vertical milling applications for five axis machine geometries.

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