Why use aluminized steel for your hydraulic reservoirs?

Selecting the right material is critical. Most hydraulic reservoirs are manufactured from steel, stainless steel or aluminum. But, another option is aluminized steel.
IFH-330expansion-300x216The use of aluminized steel (sheet steel hot dip coated on both sides with an aluminum-silicon alloy) solves the contamination problems inherent in uncoated steels. It combines the corrosion resistance of aluminum with the structural strength (and lower cost) of steel. Aluminized steel is price-competitive with hot or cold rolled steel.

Reservoirs made of aluminized steel can help prevent corrosion from nearly any external influence. Aluminized steel reservoirs are compatible with nearly all petroleum-based and synthetic fluids.

The IFH Group has pioneered the use of aluminized steel in hydraulic oil reservoirs and fuel tanks for off-road and specialty vehicles used in agricultural, construction, utility and a range of other rugged off-highway applications. Depending on the application, environment and size of the reservoir, the use of aluminized steel can be a viable design option.

IFH has expanded its non-ferrous production capacity for applications that require custom aluminum fabrications.

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Essential keys to getting the reservoir you need while keeping costs down

When someone reaches out in need of a hydraulic reservoir, a few introductory questions can determine the options and services you’ll need from your tank provider.

  • What type of application will the reservoir be used in? (Agriculture, Construction, Mobile, etc.)
  • What kind of environments will the application be introduced to?
  • Is the reservoir a new or existing product?

Recommending materials

Depending on the application, environment and size of the reservoir, the use of aluminized steel is recommended. The use of aluminized steel (sheet steel hot dip coated on both sides with an aluminum-silicon alloy) solves the contamination problems inherent in uncoated steels. It combines the corrosion resistance of aluminum with the structural strength (and lower cost) of steel. Aluminized steel is price-competitive with hot or cold rolled steel.

Beyond aluminized steel, you have a wide array and variety of materials including but not limited to hot rolled steel, cold rolled steel, aluminum and stainless steel. Typically, you should look for quotes in multiple material options so you have the best option for your application.

Do you have any sketches?
blueprintWhile a space void or constraint for the reservoir is helpful, a preliminary sketch or print provides the groundwork of the design and gives us an idea of the manufacturing efficiencies we can utilize. Your tank supplier should enjoy the collaborative process to find the most cost effective design to fit the your application while providing a reservoir that exceeds expectations but maintains a competitive cost.

Keep it as simple as possible. Anything complex – complex corners or edges, trapezoidal shapes, irregular rectangles – means more material, more labor and more leak test time.

When the sketch or drawing is received, see if your tank provider can improve on it. It may be as simple as changing the construction by putting a bend in place of a weld or integrating mounting brackets into the tank body, thereby eliminating more welds. (For example, we received one sketch that showed 6 pieces welded together, necessitating a total of 12 welds. We proposed making the tank out of two pieces, which eliminated 1/3 of the welds and reduced costs.)

Value-Added parts – DIY not recommended

Make sure your supplier can procure and install the value-added parts you need – fill caps, strainers, sight bulbs, filters, straps, covers or any type of value added item that may be required. Look for suppliers with strong, key relationships with manufacturers of these value added items, often receiving discounted pricing – a savings that is passed onto the customer.

With a little planning, and a collaborate partner in your tank supplier, you should end up with a finished product that is ready for mounting and plumbing of the connections. Every tank and reservoir you receive should be thoroughly cleaned and tested based on a your own standard or an industry standard. Also, when your tank supplier takes on the task of installing the value added parts, it diminishes the introduction of contamination during the reservoir installation process.

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Key elements to address when designing mobile and industrial reservoirs

Do you have questions about the finer points of mobile hydraulic oil reservoir design? And the special design considerations that mobile reservoirs require?

Mobile hydraulic reservoirs are expected to perform as well as industrial reservoirs, even though they are typically operating under more extreme and often adverse conditions. It’s important that you (or your reservoir supplier) understand the special problems hydraulic reservoirs used in mobile equipment face, such as machine motion, extreme ambient temperatures, and size limitations.

Size is the most striking difference when comparing industrial and mobile designs. Industrial standards, developed by NFPA (National Fluid Power Association) and accepted by ANSI (American National Standards Institute), specify that reservoir capacity should equal 3x to 12x maximum pump output. However, size and weight limitations may require the equipment to operate with reservoirs as small as the volume the pump discharges in a single minute.

Because of the special limitations of mobile hydraulic reservoirs, they typically require custom design. Custom made hydraulic reservoirs have an advantage over off-the-shelf reservoirs because they can be designed to fit the exact space and technical requirements necessary for optimal performance.  Cost, size, and weight can be minimized while maintaining performance and efficiency.

Does your supplier employ techniques such as 3D modeling to develop the most efficient design for your application and for the manufacturability of your reservoir?

Details on design considerations for mobile hydraulic reservoirs can be found on our website in a free white paper download by IFH Group president Keith Ellefsen.

Ryan McCarty is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, at The IFH Group.

He can be reached at rmccarty@ifhgroup.com.

Do you need a custom mobile hydraulic reservoir?

tanks-SOABy Ed Wade, The IFH Group

Mobile reservoirs for off-road vehicles are more than storage tanks for hydraulic fluid. Though their prime function is to act as storage containers for hydraulic fluid, they should also function as fluid conditioning devices. They can not only provide fluid to meet varying demands as actuators extend and retract, but can also prepare the fluid for its next working cycle.

Mobile hydraulic reservoirs are expected to perform as well as industrial reservoirs, but since they operate under adverse conditions, they require special design considerations. Machine motion and extreme ambient temperatures are but two examples of the special problems designers and manufacturers of hydraulic systems in mobile equipment face.

When comparing industrial and mobile designs, size is perhaps the most striking difference. Industrial standards, developed by NFPOA and accepted by ANSI, specify that reservoir capacity should equal 3 to 12 times maximum pump output: today this may exceed 2000 gallons. However, size and weight limitations may require the equipment to operate with reservoirs as small as one time pump output.

Because of the special limitations of mobile hydraulic reservoirs, their design and build must be fully developed. Cost, size, and weight must be minimized while maintaining performance and efficiency.

Custom versus Off-the-Shelf

Custom made hydraulic reservoirs have an advantage over off-the-shelf reservoirs because they can be designed to fit the exact space and technical requirements necessary for optimal performance. Reservoir manufacturers should maintain a complete engineering department to assist in developing the most economical and practical hydraulic reservoir design.

Aluminized steel (sheet steel hot dip coated on both sides with an aluminum-silicon alloy) can be used to solve the contamination problems inherent in uncoated steels. It combines the corrosion resistance of aluminum with the structural strength (and lower weight and cost) of steel. Aluminized fuel tanks are resistant to virtually all petroleum-based and synthetic fluids while providing excellent protection from atmospheric corrosion. These tanks can be readily welded using resistance, MIG, TIG or robotic welding processes and can be formed using normal methods, with no peeling or flaking of the coating.

The Weld

With any hydraulic reservoir, the quality of the weld is all-important. Any competent manufacturer should combine MIG, TIG, robotic and electrical resistance welding to provide hydraulic reservoirs of the highest quality. Manufacturing equipment should be state-of-the-art, including CNC turret punches, CNC controlled forming equipment and CNC controlled welding equipment.

The Finish

Powder coating is the future. Increasingly stringent environmental regulations, rising costs in all areas, and demands for better quality and more durable products make it the smart choice for a better looking, more durable finish. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The coating is typically applied electrostatically and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a “skin.” It creates a hard finish that is tougher than conventional paint.

Cleaning and maintenance

Reservoir servicing must also be taken into account. There must be provisions to drain both return and suction areas of the tank, especially if a baffle is used to separate them. Pipe couplings are often used, but SAE O-ring ports provide better sealing. Valves should also be provided for closing off inlet lines when replacing pumps or other components that are below fluid level.

Access should be provided for cleaning and maintaining the interior of the tank. Clean out covers should be large enough for service personnel and cleaning tools. There should also be means for lighting each portion of the tank for inspection. Clean out covers should be attached to the tank so leaks can be detected and repaired from the outside.

Questions? For more information, contact Ed Wade, IFH Group, emwade@ifhgroup.com

How can I combat corrosion in hydraulic oil reservoirs?

Aluminized Steel Hydraulic Oil Reservoir

This 109-gallon capacity hydraulic oil reservoir is fabricated from aluminized steel and is used in an aerial work platform bucket truck. It includes a sight gage, filler-breather, and filter.

By Ryan McCarty, The IFH Group

Hydraulic reservoirs in mobile equipment can be prone to corrosion when humid air is drawn in when the oil level drops. Once moist air gets into the reservoir, water can condense on the interior walls when the ambient temperature drops. Desiccant breathers can be specified to filter and dry ambient air drawn into the reservoir. However, the desiccant has a finite service life, so if the breather is not changed at recommended intervals, moisture will be drawn in unimpeded. The condensate, ultimately, will enter the hydraulic system and pose several problems.

The condensate will also adhere to the interior surfaces of the reservoir, which could lead to rust deposits that can also enter the hydraulic system. These deposits can cause problems of their own, including premature wear to components, clogging of filters and orifices, and valve malfunctions.

Reservoirs made of aluminized steel can help prevent corrosion if moisture does get into the reservoir. Aluminized steel is sheet carbon steel that is hot-dip-coated on both sides with an aluminum-silicon alloy to avoid the contamination problems inherent to uncoated steels. Essentially, aluminized steel combines the corrosion resistance of aluminum with the higher mechanical strength — and lower cost — of steel. Aluminized steel reservoirs are compatible with virtually all petroleum-based and synthetic fluids while also providing protection from atmospheric corrosion.

For more information, contact rmccarty@ifhgroup.com

 

What makes a good water tank?

watertankBy Ed Wade, The IFH Group

Water Tanks are used on mobile concrete mixers. Most of them are Rated at 60 PSI (which is much higher than a standard tank 3-6 PSI). The water is used to keep the concrete to the correct moisture, and also wash out the chutes and mixer barrel.

Seam welded tanks can be made from thinner Material (up to 14 Gauge thick). When the application does not require “Heavy Duty” structure, seam weld is a cheaper option.

However, in heavy duty tanks used on concrete mixers, seam welding is not an option. This kind of application demands MIG, TIG or robotic welding.

A constant drum speed yields a more consistent concrete mix. Over mixing damages the quality of the concrete by increasing the temperature of the mix, lowering the slump, decreasing air entrainment and decreasing the strength of the concrete. A constant drum speed maintains the center of gravity with a loaded truck for better stability in corners.

Question your Supplier

What material are they fabricating the tanks from? The ideal material would be 10 gauge 414G carbon steel.

Do they have a work cell set up for testing at 60 psi? At IFH, the cell is set up with a hydrostatic pump that ranges from 0 to 500 psi. The pressure can be adjusted and set to any requirement that falls within that equipment range. The tank is placed within a containment unit and plugged prior to attaching the pump for testing. The containment allows for full visual acceptance of the part.

For more information, contact Ed Wade at emwade@ifhgroup.com