The winter months have arrived, bringing with them freezing temperatures and moisture – both of which can severely affect your plant and facility’s equipment. There are, however, certain steps that you can take to minimize the impact of winter weather on your manufacturing facility. By carefully planning for the inevitable issues of cold, wet weather, your plant can experience minimal disruption. Attention to seemingly minor details like fresh lubrication, in-tank warmers for hydraulic fluid, and replacing insulation can make a tremendous difference when winterizing manufacturing plants.
Proper Equipment Lubrication
When it comes to the cold, lubrication is going to be your machinery’s best friend. Proper lubrication will prevent the formation of rust, which can quickly cause damage to everything from bearings to gears. Such damage can have a catastrophic cascade effect that brings your hydraulic systems to a grinding halt. This not only leads to malfunctions and failures, but can also pose safety issues depending on what components are involved.
All equipment that needs lubrication should be greased before winter arrives. Special attention should be paid to bearings, which need to be purged, cleaned, and greased. However, it is important to follow manufacturer recommendations on the appropriate lubricants to use.
Hydraulic fluid can experience a significant increase in viscosity as temperatures drop, which in turn can lead to issues such as cavitation damage due to pressure drops at pump inlets. This type of damage is not immediately apparent, but is evidenced by continually decreasing efficiency and eventual breakdown of the pump. Potential solutions for preventing damage due to an increase in hydraulic fluid viscosity include in-tank warmers and industrial immersion heaters.
As the cold weather approaches, facility heating systems need special attention to make sure they are functional, both for the good of the employees and the equipment inside. Filters need to be changed and basic operational tests should be performed on the heating systems. If heating is supplied via steam or hot water, pipes such as water return systems and condensate lines must be checked to verify that they are in proper working order before they are needed.
For steam traps, make sure there are no “stuck open” problems which can result in expensive energy losses or failed closed-traps, which can defeat the purpose of heating and can freeze. Thermostats also need to be checked, as well as portable heaters.
Winterizing Exterior Pipes
Make sure that all outside pipes are drained to prevent moisture from freezing in them. Also verify that any heat tapes are working correctly to prevent potential freezing. Keep in mind that exterior piping for things like dock sprinkler systems likely contains antifreeze, but the concentration needs to be verified that the mixture is strong enough to prevent freezing.
Outdoor Equipment and Storage
Outdoor equipment such as machinery and vehicles will need fluid levels checked, antifreeze added, cold weather fuel utilized, and fresh lubrication. Be careful about storing machinery outside during the winter months – the freeze-thaw cycle can wreak havoc with moisture inside the machine, and it seems that motors are especially susceptible to this type of problem. Temperature changes can also lead to the breakdown of grease and other lubricants. Consult manufacturer guidelines for recommended storage procedures and pre-storage maintenance to ensure the equipment still functions properly when the cold weather is over.
Overall Building Maintenance
Winterizing manufacturing plants will include the buildings themselves at your facility, which will most likely require maintenance in preparation for the icy cold weather. This includes sealing cracks and other openings, fixing any roof leaks, verifying that windows are tightly shut, and repairing / adding insulation to problem areas.
From a safety standpoint, make sure that all exit doors open properly and are free of clutter and snow that could hinder an emergency exit. Mats should be used near the doors to prevent employees from tracking in snow and debris that could pose slipping hazards. In addition, any backup sources of power should be checked and prepped well before a power outage happens.
Winterizing Manufacturing Plants with the Best Hydraulic Equipment Repair Company
Winterizing manufacturing plants and equipment may seem time-consuming, but it is necessary if you want to avoid as much disruption as possible when winter weather arrives. Trying to prep your hydraulic systems and other equipment for the cold weather might seem overwhelming, but there are options. Contact MAC Hydraulics today to learn about our extensive list of maintenance services. We work diligently with our clients to develop maintenance plans customized to the needs of each facility. Our highly trained, experienced technicians will come to your site to implement that plan, assuming responsibility for tasks like lubrication, fluid changes, filter replacement, and much more. We also provide emergency repair services, hose replacement and repair, cylinder repair, machining, and welding. Don’t let the winter months cause your work to freeze up – let MAC Hydraulics help.