Don’t Overlook This Critical Device in Your Industrial Plant

Hydraulic pressure gauge

Whether you're talking about hydraulic or pressure gauges, these frequently overlooked monitoring and measuring components are a key aspect of a well-functioning plant, business, factory, or individual machine. 

Like any other machine part, gauges can become damaged or lose their calibration; this may be due to environmental factors such as extreme temperature or humidity but can also happen because of overuse. In some cases, gauges may even be damaged by the substance that they're meant to be measuring.

Most industrial plants have hundreds or thousands of hydraulic and pressure gauges, and even one of these being damaged or improperly calibrated could lead to catastrophe.

Ensuring Employee and Plant Safety

In a 2013 article published in Chemical Processing magazine, WIKA Instrument discovered that as many as 25% of its pressure gauges were broken, damaged, or misapplied, which meant about eight deficient gauges were located within 20 feet of every facility worker.

Findings like these are troubling, as the vast number of people and the wide expanse of property and machinery that could be adversely impacted are staggering.

One malfunctioning gauge is all it takes to set off a chain reaction – neighboring gauges that previously functioned perfectly may become affected as well. WIKA evaluated more than 150,000 gauge installations in order to better understand the most common causes of gauge failure.

Preventable through careful and thorough testing, installation, and inspections, gauge problems come from a range of common environmental factors, such as:

  • Vibration
  • Pulsation
  • Temperature 
  • Overpressure
  • Steam
  • Corrosion
  • Clogging

Keeping a rigid maintenance and inspection schedule can make a difference in saving not just money and time, but avoiding equipment damage and worker injuries. Ensuring that your installations are carried out properly is another key factor to keeping your plant safe.

To guarantee proper installation, follow these steps:

  • Conduct leak testing. Thorough leak testing is imperative to ensure there are no holes or leaks present in the instrument. These problems can lead to trouble with inaccurate pressure readings and faulty calibration testing. 

  • Conduct calibration testing. Gauge calibration and testing, which ensures that the gauge continues to function properly and deliver accurate readings, must be performed by a certified calibration technician to certify the integrity of the instrument.

  • Properly install your gauge. The correct installation of a gauge is paramount to achieving and maintaining equipment. Allowing a professional to handle installation minimizes the risk of any performance errors that aren't due to wear and tear.

  • Keep up with ongoing inspections, maintenance, and calibrations. Maintaining a strict inspection, maintenance, and calibration schedule can mean the difference between a normal workday and a disaster. Even the smallest performance errors can have lasting effects if they go unnoticed and unfixed.

Gauges are a critical aspect of almost any plant, factory, or facility. Many facilities use thousands of gauges to carry out daily work activities. While these gauges are tremendously beneficial in their applications, improper installation or maintenance can result in dangerous circumstances.

Making sure that your gauges are installed properly and keeping up with their maintenance schedule should be at the top of any facility’s priority list. 

Image Credit: Fotosr52 / Shutterstock.com

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