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Inspection of technical materials

From the formalities to documentary evidence: why inspection records are so important!

Est. reading time is 6 minutes
The possible useful life of technical materials such as hydraulic hose lines depends to a great extent on the relevant operating and environmental conditions. In order to ensure that technical materials can be supplied and used safely, they have to be inspected by the owner (formerly the “operator”) at regular intervals and the inspection results have to be documented. The components of hydraulic lines can also be classified as technical materials. In Germany such inspections are legally regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) and in concrete detail by the Ordinance on Industrial Safety (BetrSichV). These laws and regulations are legally binding and must therefore be observed by everyone.
For this reason all owners determine the inspection intervals for this (i.e. the period until the next recurring inspection) themselves on the basis of their own risk assessment. Information and recommendations for the preparation of a risk assessment and the determination of inspection intervals are given in the applicable technical regulations, such as TRBS 1111, BG and DGUV 113-020, as well as standards such as EN ISO 4413, with which it is essential to comply. Before they are initially put into operation the technical materials must be checked, as it cannot be assumed that they are without safety defects. Inspections must also be carried out after maintenance work, conversions, accidents or repairs and periodically in accordance with the specified inspection intervals. This documentation must be kept at least until the next inspection - this is also required by law (BetrSichV §14). It is advisable to keep this test documentation for the entire service life of the equipment in order to be able to check whether a particular component is subject to repeated defects. It is also advisable to determine the cause of such defects and to remedy them by suitable means. This provides a good basis for preventive maintenance.
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However, there are a few points to be observed during inspections: it is not enough to note that the “hydraulics are OK” (see test certificate on the right. According to BetrSichV §14, the records have to contain at least information about the type, extent and results of the inspection, together with the name and signature of a “person qualified to perform inspections” in accordance with §2 Section 6 BetrSichV and TRBS 1203. This means that in order to ensure traceability, it must be stated on the documentation of the inspection what, when, how and where the inspection was performed and by whom. For this purpose, each individual component must be correctly checked and documented, regardless of whether a defect is present or not. This is not a matter of “irritating paperwork”, but rather a legal requirement and ultimately means safety for users and operators (people).
Every single component that is checked must be clearly identifiable. The specifications for marking are provided by the safety standard EN ISO 4413 “Fluid technology – general rules and safety requirements for hydraulic systems and their components.” Point 7.4.2.1 requires that: “Each hydraulic component and hose line must be assigned a unique position number and/or letter. (…)”. Components of hydraulic line systems include hydraulic hoses, pipelines, fittings, ball valves, adapters, couplings, metering devices as well as hose and pipe fittings of various designs.
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There are service providers who can support owners (machine operators) in such tasks in order to ensure legal compliance. A good example of this is the HANSA‑FLEX hose management system with the My.HANSA‑FLEX 2.0 customer portal. At the touch of a button it is possible here to view the date of manufacture, date of installation, age, proposed period of use and assignment to machines for all hydraulic hose lines in use. This also provides an exact overview of when the recurring inspections are to be carried out. By recording the inspection and its results the employer complies with the legal requirement to document the inspection (ArbSchG §6, BetrSichV §14).
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The inspection principles can be found in the applicable standards such as EN ISO 4413 and DIN 20066, as well as in the rules and regulations of the employers’ liability insurance associations, for example DGUV 113-020. These provide employers with assistance in the implementation of their obligations by showing the risks and how these can be avoided.
Violations of the Industrial Safety Ordinance and other laws can have serious consequences. They can, for example, be punished as administrative offences with substantial fines in accordance with the LV62 list of financial penalties. The elements of the offence include, for example, Point 5.1: “A hazard not assessed, not assessed correctly or not assessed in time; a risk assessment not carried out by a competent person; use of technical materials without the necessary inspections in accordance with § 14 and Section 3 having been carried out and documented; use of technical materials without a risk assessment having been carried out or without the protective measures to be taken or without establishing that their use is safe in accordance with the latest technological standards...”.
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The following principle applies: an inspection without complete documentation is considered not to have been carried out at all. Consequently, only those who carry out careful inspections with full documentation are in compliance with the law!
  • Nicole Marx

    Trainerin Leitungstechnik und Hydraulik-Öle der Internationalen Hydraulik Akademie

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