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STAYING SAFE WITH HYDRAULIC HOSES. A FLOTEC RAIL STORY.

Updated: Jun 25

With 24th June marking the launch of Rail Safety Week 2024, here, Flotec’s Rail Division raises awareness about the need of staying safe with hydraulic hoses.

In this article, Flotec’s Rail Division talks about the need of staying safe with hydraulic hoses.

Often overlooked, always efficiency critical.


Hydraulic hoses aren’t exactly the most glamorous of images that come to mind when thinking about train travel but, they do play a critical role in helping a train run and operate to its optimal efficiency.


If a hose blows or fails, it can have a detrimental impact on fleet efficiency, potentially resulting in train delays and disruptive downtime to the rail network.


Hydraulic hoses also work at high fluid transfer pressures as well as under incredibly arduous conditions.


Hose failure can have potentially harmful consequences.


Potential Hazards.

There are three main hazardous effects caused by a failed hydraulic hose. Let’s look at each of these.


Environmental Detriment.

Hydraulic oil leakage can be hazardous to aquatic ecosystems, wildlife and vegetation.  Furthermore, some fluids may be slow to break down, adding to biodegradability issues.

 

Fire Hazards.

Hydraulic hoses often work in compact, high temperature environments, where, in the case of trains, are typically close to the engine.


Hydraulic fluid can be flammable so if a hydraulic hose blows or pinhole leak occurs in a high temperature area such as near a train engine, fire can ensue.


Oil Mist is often a major contributor to fires or explosions.


This can happen when high pressure hydraulic fluid is either, sprayed through a crack in the hose or, there is fluid leakage from a full hose failure.

 

When the hydraulic oil lands on a hot surface it vaporises and then contacts with a lower temperature.


When the concentration of oil mist increases and reaches the lower explosion limit, a flammable instance may happen when the mist either, contacts a surface with a temperature over 200 degrees Celsius or, interacts with a spark.

 

Whilst thankfully rare, the risk is very much real.

 

Risk to Life and Human Safety.

Failed hydraulic hoses can pose substantial risks to human safety.


Hydraulic fluid itself can be incredibly slippery meaning that a blown hose which is leaking oil can result in slips, falls and injuries.


An explosion or a ‘whipping’ hose also contribute significantly to injury or worse, threat to life.


The oil itself can cause skin burns and under extreme pressure such as a pinhole leak, can penetrate the skin.


A pinhole leak is typically caused by abrasion to the hydraulic hose which results in a fine spray (most times, invisible to the human eye) being expelled from a tiny hole in the hose at such a force, that it is the equivalent of a bullet being fired from a gun.


The leak can penetrate PPE and if it enters the skin and bloodstream, toxicity can take hold, potentially leading to amputations and in some cases, even death.

 

Mitigate the Risks.

With an understanding that hydraulic hose failure not only destabilises train efficiency and increases the likelihood of fleet downtime, it also carries with it significantly hazardous consequences, meaning there is a tangible need to mitigate potential risks.


Flotec can support train operators in doing exactly that.

 

Dealing with Slips and Falls. 

Hydraulic oil leak is likely to happen in environments such as a train depot where fleet maintenance and repairs are taking place.

 

If there is a spillage of oil, Flotec has the perfect solution to lessen the risk of slips, falls and injuries.


Flotec’s emergency spill kit contains ten absorbent pads, two absorbent socks and one hazard bag with tie, making it an ideal solution for clearing up potentially hazardous oil leaks and minimising the likelihood of injury.

 

‘Q’ Approved for Hose Assembly

 

Flotec is an official British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) member and is fully ‘Q’ approved to supply and distribute hose assemblies.


BFPA 'Q' Approved Hose Assemblies Logo

 

The British Fluid Power Association is the UK’s only authoritative representation for the hydraulics industry, having more than 250 members, consisting of manufacturers, distributors, consultants and more.

Quality Guaranteed.

Through rigorous annual audits and inspections, Flotec is permitted to display the ‘Q’ approved logo.

This is important because it demonstrates that Flotec assembles hoses to an industry agreed standard and that all supplied hoses are reliable and safe.

As an example, Flotec will never re-end a hose as this can be potentially fatal to life and hazardous to machinery. Flotec will only ever assemble new hoses to ensure a fit-for-purpose and safe product.

Furthermore, Flotec will never mix and match parts and components as parts from one supplier may not be compatible with another’s.

Mixing can be detrimental to hose performance and is completely unacceptable under a set of clearly defined industry regulations.

 

Own Branded Railtec Hose.

 

The Railtec hydrostatic hose has been designed and engineered by Flotec specifically for the rail market.

The Railtec Hydrostatic Rail Hose

 The Railtec hose can withstand temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius, where traditional hose products only withstand up to 100.

 

This is noteworthy because, we know that many hoses are placed in a heated train engine environment.

 

International standards for hydraulic hose assemblies state they must pass 200,000 cycles as standard, The Railtec hose is tested to 600,000 impulse cycles making its lifecycle three times longer than other hoses on the market.

 

All of this ensures that the risk of hose blowout and failure is kept to an absolute minimum.

 

EN 45545-2 Fire Safe Compliant.

 

Introduced in April 2016, EN 45545-2 is a rail industry fire safety regulation designed to protect railway workers and passengers by lessening the risk of fire and controlling its speed, spread and development if a fire does occur.

 

 

 

Hose Management is Critical.

 

Flotec has developed its own Hose Management Programme and supports train operators and fleet engineers to inspect and audit their existing hose set-up, analyse its weaknesses and design a proposal for improvement.

 

Addressing Pinhole Leaks.

 

Armed with the knowledge that hydraulic hose pinhole leaks can be potentially fatal, with the main perpetrator of the leak being hose abrasion, Flotec offers a selection of abrasion resistant hose covers which are ideal for track maintenance machines that need to perform in extremely challenging conditions and are much more at risk of abrasion.


Should a pinhole leak occur, the Gates Lifeguard sleeve supplied by Flotec can safely contain and control a burst of up to 10,000 psi.

 

Conclusion.

 

Whilst hydraulic hoses and their parts and components are critical in the effective performance of a train, they do possess potential safety risks which if managed properly, can ensure that the hydraulic hose system is as safe and reliable as can possibly be.


With over twenty-five years’ experience in this field, Flotec is on hand to offer operators and engineers all the support they need in ensuring an efficient and safe train fleet.


You can contact Flotec’s technical support team on 01509 230100.

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