Fluid power's strengths require that practitioners know their stuff.
Fluid power is mode of power transmission and motion control that is used in a wide variety of industries. It can be used to transmit and control large amounts of power, is used to move and hold very large loads and, in some cases, incorporates critical safety features. So why is it that there is no recognized and regulated standard for knowledge of fluid power systems in Canada? Possibly some people think it is more like plumbing than power transmission.
In my day-to day-business, I often discuss this topic with the people who work with hydraulic systems, my area of endeavour, and they are always amazed that a person doesn’t need to meet a recognized standard to work on fluid power systems. In my opinion, such a standard is essential for at least three reasons: safety, reliability and continuity of knowledge.
It’s clear to me that people who have not been instructed specifically in hydraulic system safety do not understand exactly what they’re dealing with. I have heard many stories of ticketed mechanics who have been injured or killed due to a lack of knowledge of hydraulic systems. Fluids at high pressures can be hazardous, such as during oil injections. Raised loads and accumulators represent stored energy that must be lowered, blocked or released before servicing the system. There are situations that can cause pressure to intensify (go higher than maximum system pressure) that must be understood or component/conductor failure could occur.
I am not trying to be Chicken Little, but unless a standardized safety program is required for anyone that works on hydraulic systems, injuries and fatalities will continue.
Proper knowledge in correct system assembly and maintenance goes a long way to making hydraulic systems run trouble free. Hydraulics get a bad name when they leak or a component fail prematurely. It is widely recognized that the No. 1 cause of failures in hydraulic system is contamination. I would hate to think this is because people working with hydraulics know this but choose to ignore how important it is. More realistically, I think it comes down to a lack of a proper knowledge standard for hydraulic system installation, operation and maintenance. I am still amazed that many people who deal with hydraulics on the plant floor don’t appreciate the importance of pre-filtering hydraulic fluid and pre-cleaning hydraulic conductors before installation. A recognized standard for this knowledge would ensure hydraulic systems can operate as trouble free as possible and expand the application of hydraulic systems in the future.