Your Questions Answered

Design Engineering and Robert Bosch address some of the pressing issues of the day

Q: I’m a production engineer and have recently been looking to improve productivity through automation. Although I understand how to use and maintain the equipment, the rest of my team doesn’t. Is there any way I can get product specific training?

A: (Axle Burke – Bosch training) The issue of ongoing training to maintain engineers’ understanding of technological development is a common problem within engineering. Good product training is almost as important as the installation process itself. Unless everyone responsible for the day to day operation of the components understands the product, the full capability of the technology is unlikely to be realised.

All reputable suppliers should be able to offer some kind of product training for the products they provide. In many instances these packages are very flexible and in industries where it’s simply not possible to send employees off-site for a day’s training, product specialists from suppliers can visit the customer’s workplace and provide bespoke on-the-job training.

All training centres should be able to offer a wide range of practical training within their product areas. If not, then they should be able to recommend an external facilitator who can provide help and advice.

For example, at Bosch training is taken seriously and significant investment has been made in this area. We now provide flexible training packages which can be undertaken either in a purpose built training facility in the UK or Germany. For those unable to travel, on site training is common.

In addition, a number of specialist training centres up and down the country work in partnership with Bosch and offer fluid power training courses using the actual products engineers are likely to use.

Keeping up with technology is not easy, but it is essential. It’s important to stay one step ahead of the competition. Training is a vital part of this ongoing process.

Q: Throughout our production process we use a number of hydraulic systems. However, I am not sure of the level of maintenance they require. Are there any essential checks that we need to undertake regularly?

A: (Peter Buxton – fluid power manager, peterbuxton@

Hydraulic systems do not usually need a lot of maintenance. Instead, they require regular checks and servicing. Basic errors or a lack of regular servicing can cause major problems later in their lives.

However, a few basic tips will help any hydraulic system run for years providing a reliable service.

Always make sure the oil within the system is changed at least once a year.

Make sure there is an oil filter fitted either in the return or pressure stages. This will help maintain oil cleanliness.

Check the filter elements every six months, or use an indicator on the system to monitor it.l When changing oil it is important to clean out the tank at the same time. Pouring new oil into a dirty tank can disturb any sediment introducing impurities into the clean oil.

Check the efficiency of the pump regularly and service it whenever the performance starts to decline. This will help extend the life of the pump.

Check the setting of the pump safety relief valve. When using pressure compensated pumps the valve should be set higher than the pump controller to ensure one does not influence the other.

If a pump is fitted to an electric motor coupling, ensure that the shafts are aligned correctly as poor installation can often lead to problems.

It is essential that the air filler breather is capable of supplying sufficient airflow relative to the tank size. If not, it can cause a vacuum to build up within the tank. This altered pressure reduces the ability of the oil to flow quickly and efficiently through the system.

Ensure when changing or fitting new hoses to the system that they are thoroughly flushed out before installation, otherwise the system could become contaminated.

Make sure the entire system is flushed out both prior to installation, or commissioning, and after servicing.

The majority of these checks are straightforward. You would not expect your car to continue to run efficiently without regular attention and the same applies to your hydraulic system.