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The Importance of Preventative Maintenance from a Waterjet Expert


Michael Albert has worked on waterjets for nearly three decades. As an Application Specialist and Manager of Flow’s Customer Technology Center, he processes customer sample part requests, prototypes new equipment, tests new materials, trains new customers, and runs proprietary demonstrations on waterjet equipment nearly every single day.
And if he’s learned anything during his tenure, it’s the importance of consistent waterjet maintenance to prevent unwanted delays and cost. Michael uses an apt analogy to prove his point.
“It’s really like your car. If you drive your car 100,000 miles, you’re going to change your oil, hopefully, by then, 15 or 20 times,” he said. “It’s the same thing with waterjets. You just keep on the maintenance to keep it running and retain optimal performance.”

Flow Maintenance
The work you do to maintain your waterjet will vary depending on your application, hour usage, and model type. But most maintenance routines will look the same: make sure your work area is clean, your system is well-oiled and taken care of, your pump is maintained, and your waterjet system as a whole is being observed on a consistent basis to prevent any costly surprises.
That consistency, along with help from trusted, third-party professionals, can ensure you reap all the benefits waterjet has to offer without the mechanical blunders. Here’s a breakdown of good maintenance practices and what to watch out for when using your machine.   
Keeping Your Machine in Tip-top Shape: The Basics
Waterjet technology is in high demand thanks to its outstanding ability to cut anything from stone to steel. That’s not to mention the jobs you can do with more delicate materials like fiberglass or laminate.
Add to that waterjet’s capacity to make sleek, precise cuts for industrial and artful applications and you see why water makes for a top-tier cutting solution.

So, what do you need to keep an eye on to maintain your waterjet’s viability long term?

Michael notes a few items for starters, including checking your machine’s nozzles, cutting heads, mixing chambers, and abrasive levels. Pump filters also need to be changed regularly, with specific intervals depending on the type of work your machine does.
A weekly check on your grease points can also keep your waterjet in optimal shape.
“It’s not always daily,” said Michael of continued maintenance. “It could be six months, or it could be six weeks, depending on how many hours a day you run.”
Machinists should also strive for a clean workplace; tiny particles on your machine or in your water could hamper your waterjet’s efficiency.
The “Break-fix” Method is Not an Option
Thinking about forgoing basic maintenance? Think again.
Michael emphasized the fact that using a “break-fix” method – that is, only calling in a technician when something is wrong – will lead to nothing but problems. And, referring back to his earlier analogy, it makes sense: If you drive your car for 100,000 miles without an oil change, you can expect problems – and, in some cases, extremely costly ones.
The “break-fix” technique hurts machine operators in the long term, he explained.
“It increases your down-time because you stop to fix things unexpectedly,” he said. “You should perform preventative maintenance at regular intervals, as it no doubt leads to more up-time, which equates to more production, and more profit.”
When to Call for Experts, Benefits of Out-Sourced Maintenance
While a layperson might be able to tackle basic maintenance, it’s recommended that machine operators call in the pros when major fixes are needed. And the data backs this up: companies that keep their waterjet maintenance in-house have been shown to spend 50-60% more than those who outsource machine upkeep.

Any waterjet provider worth its salt will offer maintenance packages that provide, among other things, readily available customer service, training programs, and online parts ordering.
An outsourced maintenance team will not only fix your machine in a timely fashion – it will also offer insights as to why certain breakdowns are happening and how operators can prevent them in the future.
Making Sure Your Waterjet Works for Years to Come
How long your waterjet lasts is contingent on how well you maintain it. But if you consistently perform basic maintenance – and outsource when needed – you could run your machine for decades.
“I’ve seen 15, 20-year-old machines,” said Michael. “You look at them and go, ‘wow, it’s still working.’ The owner took care of the parts and it’s still running.”
Keep up with the little stuff and consult with a waterjet manufacturer if you get stuck. In the end, your waterjet will be as good to you as you are to it – and general upkeep plays a major role in that equation.
Remember Michael’s analogy? He takes his car in for regulator maintenance. He recommends you do the same with your waterjet.