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Knowledge is power: Industry warned threat of unauthorised repairs to hydraulic drives

Unauthorised repairs to hydraulic drives and systems are leading to increased downtime and placing the safety of staff and warranties at risk, according to one of the UK’s leading drives and controls manufacturers.

Production and maintenance managers in the industrial sector are being warned of the heightened threat of employing unofficial repairers to service hydraulic equipment. Bosch Rexroth is highlighting the importance of servicing hydraulic systems through the correct channels, rather than resorting to the ‘grey market’ for repairs.

“People say knowledge is power, and this is certainly true in hydraulic servicing and maintenance procedures,” said Richard Chamberlain, service product manager at Bosch Rexroth. “Operating at very high pressures, hydraulic systems have the potential to cause huge and even lethal damage if they fail. This is why it is absolutely essential that repairs are completed by an authorised expert.

“We estimate that circa 80 per cent of hydraulic repairs are completed by the ‘grey market’. Not only is this highly dangerous for the employees on site, it also increases the risk of downtime. Unofficial repairers, typically, may not have access to the genuine spares and correct components for the task in hand – which will increase the likelihood of machine failure and will almost certainly invalidate the warranty.”

Chamberlain highlights that even simple repairs undertaken by non-approved suppliers, could increase the likelihood of a premature failure. The components of hydraulic systems work together intimately. As a result, damage to one component may cause further damage to others, hence why it pays to implement regular servicing from authorised suppliers.

“There is a misconception that hydraulic drives are easy to repair with little account taken for which components are used in the repair, or how this may affect warranties. This couldn’t be further from the truth and could jeopardise productivity and on-site health and safety.”

Chamberlain cites a case of a customer to make his point. “The customer in question was using a large pump and, upon failure, the maintenance engineer took a decision to fit a copy sourced from the grey repair market. The copy failed which resulted in the closure of the customer’s production line for a long period of time with tens of thousands of pounds of production time lost.

“Ultimately, while taking the grey repair route can at the time appear to be the cheaper option, the use of inferior components increases the risk of machine downtime. This could end up costing manufacturers thousands of pounds in lost revenue, not to mention the health and safety and reputational ramifications. Sourcing an authorised service supplier is a simple price to pay in comparison.”

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