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Count the cost of contamination

Published:  01 April, 2014

Most hydraulic systems are contaminated with solid, liquid and gaseous particles, either generated externally or internally through fluids, component wear and tear, or just bad housekeeping. These contaminates can cause system inefficiencies or system failures.

One of the first questions asked when presenting or training about condition monitoring products is “How much is this going to cost me?” Our response is always “How much is this going to save you”? Let’s look at a few points where investing in condition monitoring can help you save costs.

We know that around 70 – 90% of hydraulic breakdowns can be attributed to particulate contamination. That’s quite a high figure in anyone’s terms, but if we can reduce this figure by 30 – 40% then surely there is a cost saving there.

So what are the costs of these breakdowns? The biggest cost is system downtime especially in production. Add manpower to this, the time to fault find as well as remove and replace the component that has failed. So is the question really - How long can you afford not to have your production working?

Components are being subjected to contaminants before actual component failure, therefore losing component efficiency right from the start. Whereas at new, the system will run at full pressures, loads and speeds. When contamination is a problem, over a period of time these can all be effected by causing wear and cracks at critical component surface areas and therefore begin to lose the efficiency of the component and how well it operates. Sometimes the component may even stop operating due to the blocking of small orifices by large contaminates. Typically we are looking at component clearances of 0.5 micron up to 50 micron. It doesn’t take much to block an orifice, to reduce or stop the flow of hydraulic media, hence stopping or slowing down the hydraulic application.

Costs can also be attributed to the product quality, scoring, wearing, and damaged components and finishes. Add all these together and the value can be quite high. How can we control this contamination problem and extend component life?

The first step is to add filtration. But which type of filtration do we install? Pressure, return, offline (Kidney loop) even a suction strainer. They all do a job but are they the right filter for the application?

We have to take each individual hydraulic application into consideration to see how it is operating, for example how sensitive the components are, flows, pressures, temperatures, environment and how critical the operation is. Only after considering all factors are we able to select the filters to suit the application. But how do we know we have selected the correct filters? We can analyse the oil using several different methods, but the quickest and most efficient method is online.

We know that applications are becoming far more sophisticated, using high-tech products, thus creating finer tolerances and more critical component clearances. For that reason we recommend fitting low cost particle monitors.

Online particle monitors can analyse your systems 24/7, initiating internal and external alarms should any levels of contaminate or, in some cases moisture levels change. These alarms can initiate external functions from simply putting a warning light on, controlling a traffic light sequence (red, amber, and green) turning an offline filtration Kidney loop system on, or even shutting down the system. Protection is provided for your components and applications. Thus eliminating and reducing high cost breakdowns and unscheduled downtimes. All this for a relative small cost.

So if your question is – ‘can I afford contamination monitoring products?’ the answer is – ‘can you afford not to’.

The benefits are online particle counting is

• Saving money on total cost of filtration eliminating unscheduled filter changes

• Constant system monitoring = predictive maintenance = cost savings

• Constant system monitoring = tracking system cleanliness = cost savings

• Prolonging major component life due to predictive maintenance

• Save time – high cost processes effectively monitored

• Predictive control – low cost, efficient method of system monitoring when system cleanliness levels are exceeded

MP Filtri Group is an Italian owned company with 50 years experience in the hydraulic filtration market. It develops, manufactures & supplies a range of filtration, power transmission and ancillary products worldwide. MP Filtri pursues an ambitious programme of product customisation to satisfy even the most specific customer requests, and handles every phase of the manufacturing & product development process for both standard & special projects. For more information on the MP Filtri Group and the products and services provided, please visit

At MP Filtri UK Ltd we act as the fluid condition monitoring wing of the MP Filtri group, both designing and manufacturing high quality instrumentation for portable, in-line and laboratory applications.

We supply many market sectors worldwide including, but not exclusive to…

Off shore




Renewable energy



At MP Filtri UK Ltd we employ a dedicated workforce from varying backgrounds, providing a wealth of experience and expertise to our business and products. We pride ourselves on customer service and delivering a faster, more flexible and personal service to all of our customers.

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