Filter elements are one of the most crucial parts on your injection molding machine. It is a key component and one of the greatest contributing factors to extending the life of your machine. Much like your kidneys, filter elements keep circulating fluids free from contamination and particles, which means your valves, pumps and hydraulic components will work properly.
Because of the importance of filter elements, you should ensure they are part of regular maintenance checks and that you replace filters as soon as they fail. In this article, we will go over signs that your filters are failing, how often you should change your filters, and the worst-case scenarios if you ignore your filters.
How to Know if Your Filters Need Replaced
There are pressure switch indicators on the filters, and these indicators are electrical signals that say, “Hey, you have more particulate in this filter element than you should,” and it trips an alarm. When that happens, something is going wrong in the system. Other telltale signs of full filter elements are decreases in valve performance, sticking clamps, or failing pumps.
That alarm provides valuable information on not just the filter but also possible problems with other components of a machine, especially on a new machine. We have asked customers to stop their machines before and take out the filter, and we have seen it full of brass, steel, or some other particulate. This is a sure sign that something is failing on the machine.
It is possible to silence the alarm if you’re in the middle of production, and we do see customers who do this to bypass the audible alarm. Unsurprisingly, customers that decide to bypass the alarm will also have valve problems, cylinder problems, and more. Ignoring the alarm might keep you running but only for so long. Ultimately, it’s setting you and your operation up for long-term downtime.
How Often Should I Replace My Filters?
While it depends on the quality of your oils and how much your machine is used, you should change your filters about every three months. You might be tempted to wash out the filter to extend its life, but much like bypassing the alarm, this will only keep you running temporarily. Eventually, you must do something about it. Once that alarm goes off, the filter element needs to be changed in order to avoid compromising the integrity of the filter, making it more likely that other particulate will contaminate your machine and cause substantial downtime.
Filter elements only cost a couple of hundred dollars on the high-end. While this might sound expensive, it’s cheaper than having a machine sit idle while it’s being drained of fluid.
What’s the Worst-Case Scenario?
Your machine will exhibit a lot of downtime, and that’s when things become very costly. Let’s say you ignore a bad filter for four months. Maybe someone bypassed the alarm to keep it running, but now your machine stops cycling and your hydraulic system stops performing (stuck valves, loud pumps, leaking seals, over temp alarms).
At this point it is not a simple fix. You would want to call Technical Support and Parts to schedule a service call with one of our technicians at your facility. To clean the system, we will need to completely drain the tank, wipe the tank, and get rid of all the contaminated oil.
If this happens, you are looking at five to seven days of labor to clean it up. So instead of just buying a hundred-dollar part, you will be looking at up to seven days of labor costs and seven days of downtime.
Fresh Filters Keep You Producing
All in all, filter elements are a crucial part of your injection molding machine. Having clean filters is one of the key factors in extending the life of your machine. They keep your machines producing and help you avoid extended periods of downtime. There are many signs that it is time to change your filter, but the best way is to pay attention to your alarms and act immediately. When you recognize the signs, just call our Technical Support and Parts line (1-800-288-8306) for a replacement filter element.
From our National Service Manager to you,