From an enquiry about an overheating hydraulic power unit, CRAM has developed a comprehensive upgrade program for one of the country’s leading timber processors. Along with a tangible reduction in operating expenses, the program will improve plant productivity and extend the service life of installed hydraulically driven process equipment.

Working alongside the mill’s engineering and maintenance teams, CRAM has identified a number of points along the process line where production efficiencies and savings can be achieved.

The project has highlighted the diversity of the world class products, services and expertise such a specialist fluid power company can bring to a manufacturing environment.

World-class components

The problem of the overheating hydraulic power unit was solved with an upgraded cooling system package, including a new pump and filter matched to a larger capacity oil cooler. The overheating was the result of the installation of an additional hydraulic pump into the line and although the increase in oil temperature created by the additional pump wasn’t an issue in the cooler months, with higher ambient temperatures in summer combining with the hotter oil the system shutoff temperature of 70°C was being reached.

Overheating ranks number two (behind leaks) on the list of most common problems with hydraulic equipment. Heating of hydraulic fluid is caused by operational inefficiencies. Inefficiencies result in losses of input power, which manifest as heat. A hydraulic system’s heat load is equal to the total power lost – PL – through inefficiencies and can be expressed as PLtotal = PLpump + PLvalves + PLactuators. Overheating can be overcome increased dissipation (installing a more efficient cooler) and decrease the heat load (by increasing the operating efficiency of the hydraulic system).

The new cooling package eliminated the overheating problem and now this particular system in reportedly the coolest throughout the facility.

Hydraulic valves are at the very heart of fluid power systems and for more than 25 years CRAM’s experience in resolving operating and performance issues around such valves has been a hallmark of the company’s positioning in the hydraulic power sector.

As national distributors for Star servo valves, CRAM can now supply a viable, cost-effective range of valves of equal quality and performance to the more expensive products in the marketplace. Star valves feature Sapphire Technology to replace the traditional steel ball which has been identified as the source of most servo valve failures. Using sapphire ball technology significantly extends operational life of the valve. This is achieved by extending the time it takes for the feedback wire to wear the main spool feedback groove which causes feedback delay of the valve response (ball glitch). According to reports Star servo valves are performing many millions of cycles without the need for repair.

The timber mill is progressively changing to Star servo valves. Performance and quality have not been compromised and productivity has been maintained. The mill is also seeing considerable cost savings. In some cases, the Star valves are up to 50% cheaper than the high-end equivalents.

CRAM is also a national distributor for Delta controllers which are specifically designed and manufactured for motion control systems. We have complete in-house facilities and expertise to design, write and commission new motion control systems or modify existing systems and code to improve performance and accuracy. If a problem arises around Delta controllers we have the resources to go to site, troubleshoot and perform any software amendments and replace hardware if necessary. This combination of Star servo valves and Delta controllers is unique and gives CRAM a formidable presence in the timber processing sector.

Exceptional design and manufacturing back-up

A strength of CRAM is the workshop, capable of repairing or manufacturing almost all the components that make up a comprehensive fluid power system. The upgrade project at the timber mill called for a 4-Station Cetop3 manifold along with a new hydraulic cylinder.

The design and manufacture of Cetop3 manifold is one of many design and builds regularly done in the workshop. This particular manifold operates a number of cylinders in the dry mill.

The new cylinder replaces a leaking unit on the tilt hoist. We designed and manufactured the application specific replacement cylinder in-house and changed-out the existing damaged unit. The damaged cylinder was repaired and will be used for service exchange by the mill if required.

A well-stocked warehouse gives CRAM customers direct access to an extensive range of new and replacement parts for fluid power systems – a facility the upgrade program at the timber mill is taking advantage of. The program has called for a new Graco grease manifold and a range of filter elements.

As a national Graco distributor we could supply and install the appropriate grease manifold. Equally, as national distributors for filter manufacturers including Parker, Hydac and Donaldson, we also supplied the particular filters required.

The next stage of the mill upgrade project is a site audit looking at improving the operation, accuracy and efficiency of the fluid power system in use. Although recognised nationally as a leading supplier of hydraulic power components and system design, the primary focus for CRAM is solutions-focussed problem solving – whether that means supplying off-the-shelf components or a design, manufacture, install and commission package to supply the best solution for our clients.

The company’s inherent skill is finding a workable, efficient and cost-effective solution based on a quarter of a century of product knowledge, expertise and experience.