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Condition monitoring of axial piston pump



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Condition Monitoring is an area that has seen substantial growth in the last few decades. The purpose for implementing condition monitoring in industry is to increase productivity, decrease maintenance costs and increase safety. Therefore, condition monitoring can be used not only for planning maintenance but also for allowing the selection of the most efficient equipment to minimize operating costs. Hydraulic systems are widely used in industry, aerospace and agriculture and are becoming more complex in construction and in function. Reliability of the systems must be supported by an efficient maintenance scheme. Due to component wear or failure, some system parameters may change causing abnormal behaviour in each component or in the overall circuit. Research in this area has been substantial, and includes specialized studies on artificial fault simulation at the University of Saskatchewan. In this research, an axial pump was the focus of the study. In an axial piston pump, wear between the various faces of components can occur in many parts of the unit. As a consequence, leakage can occur in locations such as between the valve plate and barrel, the drive shaft and oil wiper, the control piston and piston guide, and the swash plate and slippers. In this study, wear (and hence leakage) between the pistons and cylinder bores in the barrel was of interest. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as at other research institutions, have been involved in studies to detect wear in pumps using a variety of condition monitoring algorithms. However, to verify the reliability and indeed, limitations of some of the approaches, it is necessary to test the algorithms on systems with “real” leakage. To introduce actual wear in the piston of pumps can be very difficult and very expensive. Hence, introducing piston wear in an “artificial” manner would be of great benefit in the evaluation of various condition monitoring techniques.Since leakage is a direct consequence of piston wear, it is logical to conclude that varying the leakage in some prescribed manner can be used to artificially simulate wear. A prime concern, therefore, is to be able to precisely understand the dynamic relationships between the wear and leakage and the effect it has on the output flow or pressure waveform from the pump.Introducing an artificial leakage to simulate the wear of pistons is a complex task. The creation of an artificial leakage path was not simply a process of providing a resistive short to the tank at the outlet of the pump port as was done in other studies. The objective was to create a leakage environment that would simulate leakage from a single piston (or combination of several pistons thereof). The complexity of the flow and pressure ripple waveforms (which various condition monitoring algorithms did require) was such that a more comprehensive leakage behaviour had to be modeled and experimentally created. A pressure control servo valve with a very high frequency response was employed to divert the flow from the pump outlet with a prescribed waveform directly to the tank to simulate the piston leakage from the high pressure discharge chamber to the pump case drain chamber as the simulated worn piston made contact with the high pressure chamber. The control algorithm could mimic the action of a single worn piston at various degrees of wear. The experimental results indicated that the experimental system could successfully introduce artificial leakage into the pump which was quite consistent with a unit with a “real” worn piston. Comparisons of the pressure ripples from an actual faulty pump (worn piston) and the “artificial” faulty pump (artificial leakage) are presented.



axial piston pump, condition monitoring, pressure control servo valve, piston leakage, artificial leakage



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


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