Why should you replace an actuator and how often should you replace it?
During a LOLER inspection or annual service, engineers may pick up some of the following issues which could mean a replacement actuator is needed, or just the specific part needs replacing:
- The actuator jack plug or lead is damaged
- The cover to the actuator becomes damaged which could expose or compromise moving parts within
- The actuator and moving parts could start to leak grease
- Fulcrum pins can break or show wear and tear
- The actuator could be put under excessive stress and break if the safe working load of the hoist is exceeded
- Noises such as ticking, grinding or screeching could indicate an issue
If your mobile hoist is in good working order and none of the above issues occur, you may wonder why the engineer has recommended you replace the actuator – this is down to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing mobile hoist actuators
Manufacturers of mobile hoists will take guidance from the manufacturer of the actuator they use. As actuators are sealed within a unit, you can never be sure if a failure has occurred. Therefore, manufacturers recommend actuators are replaced, as they are a safety-critical part, and they want to minimise the risk of failure.
This information can usually be found in the user manual or technical service manual of the equipment.
Manufacturers recommend you replace the actuator on your hoist after a certain number of years or cycles (lifts) – this is calculated following extensive lifetime testing of actuators for hoists under BS EN ISO 10535: 2006 requirements.
Cycles (lifts) on mobile hoists with smart monitors
Manufacturers recommend that actuators should be replaced at 40,000 cycles (lifts) or sooner if deemed necessary following an inspection.
Some newer mobile hoists come with ‘smart monitors’ which provide information such as total lifting cycles, total work done, overloads and number of days since the last service, which can be used to quickly and easily evaluate the condition of the lift actuator.
However, not all mobile hoists, especially older ones, come with a digital display, so the engineer cannot determine the total cycle count.
If this is the case, then the age of the actuator can be used.
Age of Actuator
As mentioned before, you can check this information in the user or service manual, but the majority of manufacturers recommend the actuator is replaced at 10 years.
Actuator usage indicator calculation
One final way to assess if an actuator should be replaced is to calculate the total life cycle count through an actuator usage indicator calculation. This can be estimated by the age of the actuator (in years) and approximate lifts per day. However, this technique isn’t commonly used as the lifts per day aren’t always accurately recorded and monitored by the care facility.
Please note, that with every guidance from manufacturers, the cycle count or age of the actuator is only applicable where the hoist has been serviced and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and has passed LOLER inspection.