Maintenance and upkeep of pneumatic cylinders – the key to their longevity

Maintenance and upkeep of pneumatic cylinders – the key to their longevity

Pneumatic technology is an integral component in many industries. Pneumatic actuators, which are one of the key components of this technology, require regular maintenance and proper upkeep. Proper maintenance of pneumatic actuators allows not only to extend their service life, but also to increase the efficiency of the machines in which they are used. In this article, we will review the basics of actuator maintenance, paying attention to cleaning, lubrication, seal inspection and component replacement.

Why is it so important to maintain pneumatic cylinders?

Keeping pneumatic cylinders in good condition is key to ensuring their reliability and longevity. Cylinders are an integral part of many machines and devices – from production lines to industrial vehicles. Their failure can lead to major downtime, resulting in financial losses. Regular maintenance helps detect and repair potential damage at an early stage, before it develops into more serious problems.

What are the basic maintenance activities for pneumatic cylinders?

Among the basic maintenance tasks that every user of pneumatic cylinders should be familiar with and perform regularly are cleaning, lubrication, inspection of seals and replacement of worn components including fittings.

Cleaning the actuators

The cleanliness of the actuator directly affects its performance. Dust, dirt or water can get inside the actuator and cause damage or slow down its performance. Regular cleaning of the actuator surface is key. A soft soaked cloth can be used to clean the surface of the pneumatic actuator. For other components, it is recommended to use compressed air to remove dust particles or dirt that could get inside the actuator.

When the pneumatic cylinder is exposed to water that could get inside it, it is recommended to use CPP “PREMA” S.A. actuators with an additional 11.416 series piston rod scraper or with a bellows piston rod guard. Note that actuators with a bellows guard installed must have an extended piston rod.

Lubrication of pneumatic actuators

Lubrication is another key aspect of keeping pneumatic cylinders in the condition necessary for proper operation. Although many cylinders are designed not to require lubrication, in some cases this can significantly extend their life. Lubricant reduces friction between moving actuator components, which prevents premature wear. Always use the lubricant recommended by the actuator manufacturer. The best will be lubricants for moving parts, e.g. bearing grease, non-aggressive to the material of seals; rubber, polyurethane, etc.

The best method for lubricating pneumatic actuators in continuous operation is to use pneumatic lubricators, which offer the possibility of adjusting the amount of grease fed. Due to the fact that the prolonged use of pneumatic lubricators can lead to solid grease being washed out, tt is important to remember to maintain an adequate oil level in the lubricator tank to ensure constant lubrication. Preferably HL32 hydraulic oil or other mineral oil free of water and acids with a viscosity of 2-4°E/50°.

When regenerating a pneumatic actuator and replacing seals, be sure to use a solid lubricant to facilitate installation and extend service life by reducing friction.

Inspection of seals of pneumatic actuators

Seals in pneumatic actuators are designed to prevent air loss. An interesting fact is that pneumatic cylinders can operate without seals while maintaining complete tightness, but this is economically unviable due to the cost and labor-intensive manufacturing of details for such an actuator. This procedure is used in unusual situations where working and environmental conditions determine such a procedure. Seals give, the possibility to produce actuator components in smaller tolerances where at the same time they allow proper operation of the actuator with full tightness. They are extremely important for proper operation. Regular inspection of the condition of seals allows early detection of possible leaks. If a leak is found, the gasket should be replaced as soon as possible.

Replacement of parts in pneumatic actuators

Regularly checking the condition of all pneumatic actuator components and replacing worn parts is another important part of maintenance. Worn accessories such as lugs, forks, ball joints or compensating connectors can lead to the failure of the entire actuator, and in extreme cases, to the failure of the machine or the entire production line. Remember that all replacement parts should conform to the original manufacturer’s specifications. In CPP “PREMA” S.A.’s offer you can equally find repair kits for actuators, as well as components and accessories necessary for the assembly of a pneumatic cylinder.

Scope of inspection and servicing of pneumatic actuators

The scope of inspection and servicing of pneumatic actuators should primarily include regular inspection, cleaning, lubrication and replacement of damaged parts. But even with regular maintenance, it is important to remember that not every actuator requires the same service. Maintenance requirements can vary depending on the actuator model, its application, operating conditions and the manufacturer.

Training in operation and maintenance of pneumatic actuators

Knowledge and skills are essential for the proper maintenance of pneumatic actuators. That’s why manufacturers of these devices often offer special training courses for operators and service technicians. These trainings cover not only theory, but also the practical aspects of operating, maintaining and servicing actuators. It is worth investing in such training to ensure the highest quality of operation and maintenance of these devices.

When to contact a professional service?

Despite regular maintenance, not all problems with pneumatic actuators can be solved in-house. For more serious problems, such as main cylinder failure or valve damage, it is worth contacting a professional service. CPP “PREMA” S.A.’s professionals have the necessary experience and specialized tools to effectively repair or replace damaged actuator components.

Maintenance planning for pneumatic cylinders

Planning is a key part of maintaining and servicing pneumatic actuators. Developing a maintenance plan that takes into account the timing of inspections, component replacement or lubrication will help avoid unexpected failures and downtimes. Many companies use modern maintenance management systems (CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) to help monitor and schedule inspections and maintenance.


Proper upkeep and maintenance of pneumatic actuators is key to their longevity and efficiency. Regular maintenance, cleaning, lubrication, inspection of seals and replacement of worn components will help keep actuators in excellent condition, increase their performance and reduce the risk of failure.

Remember that neglecting the maintenance of pneumatic actuators can lead to costly downtime, as well as shorten the life of these important devices. Therefore, to ensure uninterrupted operation of machinery and equipment, it is worth investing in regular maintenance of pneumatic actuators.

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