Hydraulic Cylinder Safety – Knowledge is Power

The hydraulic cylinder creates a mechanical force by converting stored energy in order to move a piston in a linear direction. This, in turn, allows you to lift extremely heavy objects in a very efficient manner. Any time this amount of force is used, however, comes a potential for injury if not used properly. Aside from receiving proper training and wearing the correct protective equipment, there are a number of important safety considerations that are specific to high-pressure hydraulic cylinders. Knowing this information can keep your equipment running efficiently and effectively and, more importantly, keep you safe.

  1. Choose the right cylinder for the job
    1. The first thing you need to know is the weight that a cylinder is capable of lifting. You find the number of pounds it can lift by multiplying the Effective Area of Ram (EAR) by the Fluid Pressure (FP). EAR (in sq. in.) x FP (psi) = Force (pounds)
    2. Next, find the weight of what you intend to lift and choose a ram with at least 20% more capacity. For example, if you are lifting 8 tons, use a 10 ton cylinder. Keep in mind any potential load shift that requires more capacity at the particular lifting point.
  2. Stability is key
    1. Every cylinder must have a solid base support – whether used individually or in a system, each ram should be completely supported on a solid, firm, non-sliding foundation capable of supporting the load.
    2. Be sure the load is centered on the lifting point of the ram.
    3. When using multiple rams, distribute the load evenly – to do this, you must be able to determine the location and number of lifting points that will allow the load to be evenly distributed to all rams. This is called Load Balance.
  3. Know how to properly store the cylinders to prevent damage and injury
    1. Store high pressure cylinders upside down when not in use to prevent contaminants from entering the rod side of the ram. Storing the cylinders this way also lubricates the seals when they are not in use.
    2. Storing cylinders on their side will create a seal set on the bottom side of the unit due to the weight of the piston, allowing the cylinder to leak at the next use. If a leak occurs, the ram could stop working, causing a major safety hazard.
    3. Always store cylinders inside – temperature changes and humidity can cause corrosion on the cylinder and ultimately effect performance and safety.
  4. Only fill the pump when the cylinder is fully retracted – this ensures that you have the proper amount of hydraulic fluid required for the ram. Without enough fluid, pressure can build and the line can explode, causing serious repercussions.
  5. Make sure the cylinder and pump are the right fit – the correct high pressure pump must be selected for the cylinder you are using to ensure the appropriate capacity of oil, flow and power.
  6. Do not tamper with relief valves – These valves are typically found on double acting cylinders of 100T and above and are used to ensure the cylinder has the right amount of fluid and pressure, so it is important that you never tamper with these valves!

High pressure hydraulic cylinders generate the force needed for the hydraulic systems to operate properly and, with that power comes important safety considerations. This means following proper guidelines for use, ensuring the right cylinders are used for the job you are performing, and making sure the parts are kept in excellent condition.

At PowerX we specialize in 10,000 psi hydraulic systems and can help ensure you have the hydraulic cylinders and other components needed to do the job right, and safely.  If you are looking for help, please give one of our application engineers a call at 1-414-988-6202 or visit us at www.powerxinternational.com.