VIDEO: How to Bridge the Gap with Filter Debris Analysis

Oil filters are designed to remove contaminants and particles that would have otherwise damaged the system – but did you know this also removes the evidence that data analysts can use to provide in-depth maintenance recommendations? Dive deeper into the particles, contamination and evidence of wear that are caught in the oil filter by sending in your oil filter for Filter Debris Analysis.

FDA Dives Deeper Into Contamination Causes

Standard oil analysis (Elemental Analysis by ICP) can provide you with information on what’s going on in your equipment – but, there are limits to what ICP can detect. ICP can only detect fine particles of approximately 10 microns or smaller – leaving larger particles unidentified. Filter Debris Analysis helps identify larger wear particle debris as well as outside contamination. The wear morphology, metal type(s) and contamination types can be identified to help determine the possible source of the wear or contamination.

How is FDA Performed?

The FDA process involves flushing the filter, extracting the particles and performing several tests (including micropatch and analytical ferrography) to identify wear particles. Check out the video below to see how we perform Filter Debris Analysis at POLARIS Laboratories®:

Learn more about Filter Debris Analysis by reading our technical bulletin.

Interested in adding FDA to your current fluid analysis program? Contact customer service or your account manager.

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Published October 9, 2018

The Future of Your Reliability

We live in a connected world

Do you find that your critical condition monitoring information (fluid analysis, thermography, acoustics, telematics, etc.) is stored and managed in many different places and systems? Do you have to manually connect each of these data points to come to conclusions? Companies like yours have to navigate through data and information that is too often siloed – creating unnecessary work, time and expense.

So, how do we eliminate these silos? How do we integrate data into one place and automate our reliability?

Imagine your machine creating a work order from the oil analysis results you received from the laboratory … but seamlessly, without the human connection. That’s the future of reliability – technology, integration, connections and removing the human connection.

Telematics. Artificial Intelligence. Machine Learning.

This prescriptive approach enables maintenance professionals to leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) by integrating siloed data into a centralized digital system.

Leveraging fluid analysis information is the key to your success today, but establishing an asset reliability model for your organization of the future is paramount. And, if executed effectively, you will establish a truly empowered user experience that will save your company countless hours and effort in manual labor and analysis. And, it will improve your impact, uptime and savings. This is the future of maintenance and reliability, but you can take your first steps today.

So, where do you start?

POLARIS Laboratories’ DataConnect feature offers advanced data integration to seamlessly connect your CMMS to HORIZON®, our award-winning online management platform. This capability does the work for you by automatically importing your HORIZON sample data into your CMMS system.

The future of operational efficiency through integration, technology and advanced systems is here. Are you ready? Talk with one of our account managers or technical business consultants to turn today’s missed opportunity into tomorrow’s success story.

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Published October 2, 2018

Take Action & See the Savings

Have You Taken Action?

One of the most under-used and yet, most powerful tools that POLARIS Laboratories® data management system, HORIZON®, can provide our customers with the Action Taken function. Dive deeper into your sample data and recommendations and be able to:

  • Complete a work order from the recommended action item from the sample
  • Learn if you did or did not locate a problem in your equipment
  • Provide comments back to the laboratory based on your findings
  • Customize your results by narrowing down by date, severity or fluid type
  • Put in an estimated savings if you did find a problem

Run the Report an See Proven Savings

Want to see how much you’ve saved? Once you have completed action taken items you can run the Action Taken Summary Report out of HORIZON®. This report provides you with a summary of the actions that have been taken and allows you to spot trends and commonalities in issues you may be seeing, as well as provide you with total estimated savings that can prove the savings of your program. To learn more about how this report is run out of HORIZON, watch the how-to video below:

If you would like to see a demonstration of this tool, please reach out to your Account Manager.


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Published September 18, 2018

How Gasoline Engine Technology Affects Fuel Dilution

Do you have a newer vehicle? Are your reports showing high fuel dilution?

Changes in gasoline engine technology, along with direct injection, have affected the internal combustion process in a gasoline engine. But, what does this mean for oil analysis? We’ve received a large amount of inquiries and questions regarding this topic from our customers. Click below to download the newest Technical Bulletin to learn the differences in engine technology and how it can affect your fluid analysis results.

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Published September 4, 2018

Seamless Data Management Made Easy

Data from your fluid analysis program is one of the cornerstones of your asset reliability program. It helps you prioritize, plan and monitor your daily maintenance activities. In aggregate, it can also help you make strategic decisions to maximize asset life, reach your business objectives and increase your return on investment.

Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re managing your data effectively:

  1. How well is your data integrated with the rest of your reliability program to support your maintenance program?
  2. Can your maintenance planners and fleet managers access the data in a way that is seamless with your company’s internal maintenance management systems?
  3. Is your team forced to access information out of multiple platforms that create inefficiency, frustration and can lead to missed opportunities?

POLARIS Laboratories® has a solution. DataConnect effortlessly and automatically moves your fluid analysis data into your primary maintenance management software system. Simplifying your internal systems through DataConnect can help you increase value, reduce staff training costs, improve visibility of your reliability program and ensure that you are deriving maximum value from fluid sampling.

To explore the options provided by DataConnect further, POLARIS Laboratories® will work with your IT team to better understand the potential of this functionality for your organization. Just email with your IT contact information and we will take the lead.

Get the most out of your data, partner with POLARIS Laboratories® and experience DataConnect.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published August 28, 2018

HORIZON® Management Reports 101

Looking for ways to evaluate, manage and get the most out of your data? There’s a HORIZON® Management Report for that! HORIZON, our online data management platform, is a database capable of storing all your sample data, results, reports and recommendations. But, HORIZON is also a valuable resource which allows you run close to 15 different management reports to help you maximize your data. Highlighted below are just a few of the reports you can run out of HORIZON:

Severity Summary Report:

A quick and easy way for to see where your normal or critically flagged samples results are. Run the report based on a general search through your entire account or drill it down to component manufacturer or even fluid type. Check to see if there are any patterns in your testing results using this quick and easy tool – and take action.

Problem Summary Report:

Dig deeper into your sample results with the Program Summary Report. Evaluate normal and severe results by test and maintenance recommendations, making it easier to see trends in your fluid analysis sample results.

Program Condition Report:

This report will give a quick overview on how your program is running. Review overdue equipment that needs to be sent in for testing, see the average amount of time it takes for a sample to reach our laboratory for processing and see any actions taken based on the recommendations of our data analysis team.

Running Reports

Log into HORIZON and click on “Management Reports” to run these reports and more. Check out our Technical Library for How To guides and step-by-step videos designed to help you learn how to run these reports.

Contact us to learn how to best utilize these reports and others to make your fluid analysis program work even better for you!

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Published August 7, 2018

4 Tips to Help You Become a Sampling Pro

Since we introduced our new 3 oz. sample jar that is better equipped for sampling, we’ve seen a drastic decrease in leaking, messy bottles arriving at our laboratory – meaning you get your results back faster.

There are many benefits to the, somewhat still new, 3 oz. sample jar we released to our customers in the beginning of 2017. These benefits include translucency, higher temperature threshold and cap-locking with a wedge seal feature to prevent leaks.

Below are some extra tips to make sure you’re properly using the bottle like a pro and sampling correctly, so you can get the most accurate and reliable test results.

  1. Pull samples utilizing safe sampling practices [see our blog Fluid Analysis 101: 5 Tips for Collecting the Best Sample] and proper protective equipment. While the 3 oz. sample jar is designed to withstand higher fluid temperatures, safety should always be top of mind.
  2. Once the fluid sample has been taken, inspect the jar for particles – now that you can see the fluid that was pulled out of your equipment (due to the translucency of the jar), be aware of what is floating inside so when your results come back, proper action can be taken.
  3. Fill the sample bottle only to the designated “Fill Line” – no higher.
    • If there is fluid in the neck of the bottle, air may not release causing the cap to not seal properly.
  4. Do not over tighten (torque) the sample cap. The cap’s unique locking feature helps to ensure that it doesn’t loosen when the sample jar cools and the wedge seal prevents leaking.

We hope these extra tips will come in handy when you’re taking your next sample. Here at POLARIS Laboratories®, we’re continuously making improvements and providing useful resources to help our customers maximize their fluid analysis program.

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Published August 6, 2018

A Look Back: Oil Analysis Then and Now

As I look back, it is hard to believe I have now been involved in the oil analysis industry for more than 35 years. I was first introduced to this science in 1983, while in the military. I was assigned to my first permanent duty station as a track vehicle mechanic (MOS 63Y10). My motor officer was sold on the value that oil analysis offered and over time – I began to learn and believe in the value as well.

So what has changed over the years? First off, ‘oil analysis’ is now most commonly referred to as ‘fluid analysis’ as other fluids are commonly tested as part of customer programs – not just oil.

Then: Reactive

In the 80’s and 90’s, we used oil analysis to help prevent catastrophic failure from occurring. You might say a ‘just in time’ maintenance approach. If a high severity oil analysis report was received on a specific piece of equipment, the equipment associated with the high severity report would be moved up on the priority list for maintenance, more often than not a ‘reactive’ maintenance event.

Now: Predictive

Today, using not only oil analysis, but including fuel analysis and coolant analysis, to prevent catastrophic failures from occurring remains a primary goal. However, if you end your focus there you are missing out and not taking full advantage of what these services can offer your maintenance program today.

World-class maintenance organizations are now taking advantage of the full capabilities that an effective fluid analysis program offers. They are no longer just concentrating on preventing catastrophic failures, but also:

  • Monitoring oil condition: allowing the ability to optimize drain intervals.
  • Monitoring fluid cleanliness: taking action to filter and clean fluids and by doing so, greatly increasing component life hours.
  • Monitoring additives: allowing the ability to quickly detect when lubricant mixing or cross contamination has occurred
  • Moving from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance: with fluid analysis, and additional non-invasive testing technologies, we can monitor the health of the components. Thus, allowing to move away from the old practices of replacing or rebuilding components on a prescribed interval and performing rebuild and replacements only when alerted to do so.
  • Coolant analysis: For liquid-cooled components, coolant analysis is essential. Did you know that more than 50 percent of all “preventable, premature” engine failures are related to cooling system issues?
  • Fuel analysis: For today’s diesel engines, tolerances are tighter than ever before. Issues with fuel results in fuel system wear, decreased performance and even failure.

It’s No Longer Reactive

There is much more that a quality fluid analysis program program offers. Since today’s fluid analysis capabilities alerts us to the very earliest stages of wear, we are able to plan and schedule maintenance activities and move away from reactive, unplanned events. By doing so, we find that equipment availability increases, completion rate of scheduled events improves, the safety risk associated with reactive maintenance is greatly diminished, equipment availability improves and maintenance cost are reduced.

Testing Procedures Have Changed, Too

What about the test procedures themselves, have they improved over the years? The answer is yes! When I first began my career, the standard test slate included monitoring 18 elements for routine testing. Today, POLARIS Laboratories® standard routine test slate includes 24 elements, allowing the monitoring of wear for the latest generation of your equipment. The improvements have not stopped there. Improvements in particle counting, fuel dilution, soot, water and even the reporting software have seen great improvements as well.

Innovative Report and Software Advancements

When it comes to the reporting software, we are no longer limited to reviewing just a single report but we can quickly identify common causes of high severity reports, amongst common component types and adjust our maintenance activities and strategies to overcome potential issues. Today’s testing can truly provide a significant return on investment and help keep your equipment running better than ever before.

In closing, I leave you this advice. Identify the goals of your fluid analysis program, then check your fluid analysis test package profile and ensure that the test that are being performed by your service provider includes the individual test to meet those goals. The times and the testing have changed and all test packages are not created equal. Goals and testing need to be aligned. If you have questions or would like to evaluate you current program I encourage you to contact your laboratory.


Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published July 24, 2018

Contamination Control After a Flood

It’s been approximately one year since Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast. Harvey was a once-in-a-lifetime-size storm, some of Houston and surrounding areas are still recovering and for the most part, have resumed life as usual. As we come closer to this year’s Hurricane season, it’s important to know what water contamination can mean for your equipment, and what you can do to prepare for these devastating – and unexpected – acts of nature.

What to Look For

If a flood does occur, what are some of the signs to look for on your equipment?

  • Dried mud crusted on your containers
  • High water marks above your container
  • Whether your cap lids and vents are still in place
  • Filters are saturated with water
  • Your oil is milky or cloudy
  • When you take a sample, is there free water separated?

Test ASAP to Determine Contamination

If you see any of these issues we recommend immediate testing. We offer several different testing methods that can identify water contamination:

  • The simplest and way and most often used is Water by Crackle. This is usually the quickest – but the least precise. It can indicate the need for further testing with more advanced methods.
  • Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) can determine an approximate amount of oil in water.
  • Water by Karl Fischer – a measured amount of the oil sample is introduced into the titration chamber of an automated Karl Fischer Titrator. The sample is titrated to an electromagnetic endpoint. The result is reported in % water or parts per million.

Click here to see a complete list of the tests and services POLARIS Laboratories® offers.

Moisture, when it contaminates hydraulic and lubricating oils, has a degrading effect to both the lubricant and the machine. Free or emulsified water can lead to excessive wear and can destroy bearings and effect the aging rate of your oil. When in doubt, it’s best to test right away to prevent further damage to your equipment.

It’s also important to continuously test your oil – to establish consistent sample history and to begin creating a baseline for your equipment. In an event a hurricane or unexpected disaster does occur, you’ll be able to tell if your oil has been contaminated or not.


Jonathan Hughes

Houston Laboratory Manager

POLARIS Laboratories®


Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published July 17, 2018

Extended Life Coolant: Why You Should Monitor Your Corrosion Inhibitors

Extended Life Coolant formulations contain organic acid inhibitors for corrosion protection similar to how conventional formulations use inorganic inhibitors. With extended life coolants becoming more popular testing, the organic acid inhibitors can be trickier in the field and require additional testing in the laboratory than what the conventional formulation would have used. For conventional formulations, monitoring nitrite and/or molybdenum was the main way to determine if corrosion protection levels were adequate or not. Now with all different possible organic inhibitors used in extended life coolants, the fluid may or may not contain inorganic inhibitors, nitrite and/or molybdenum, with the addition of organic inhibitors. Some may contain only organic inhibitors in the formulation.

Organic Acid Inhibitors

Not all extended life coolants are applicable for testing on all test strips used to determine organic levels. The test strip testing may only work on certain organic formulations because the strip is looking for a certain organic acid(s) present which may or may not be present in the formulation in use. Some of the more common organic acid inhibitors found are Benzoic Acid, Sebacic Acid and 2-Ethylhexanoic Acid for iron and aluminum protection. Azoles that are commonly used are Benzotriazole (BZT), Tolyltriazole (TTZ) and Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) for copper and brass protection. Coolant manufacturers might not use all of these inhibitors in their formulations which is why laboratory testing is beneficial in determining the type of inhibitors present in the coolant formulation.

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

In the laboratory, the only testing that can report in parts per million the organic acids (carboxylic acids) is with the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) testing. The HPLC will report the organic acids present in the formulation and determine if the levels are adequate for corrosion protection. The testing can indicate if mixing of coolant formulation has occurred as well. To determine if mixing occurred, make sure the laboratory testing will include the testing of both the inorganic and organic inhibitors when submitted to the laboratory. If the coolant formulation is unknown it is important to include testing for both inorganic and organic inhibitors as well. If mixing did occur already, then testing will show the current level of inhibitors and help determine if levels are adequate for corrosion protection. Receiving testing that includes identification of all types of inhibitors will be the only way to help determine the type of inhibitors present currently in the system and how to maintain the fluid.

Why Add HPLC to Your Program?

Adding this testing to your current test package will help to indicate if someone has topped off with a different coolant formulation which can cause dilution of the organic acids that protect the metal in your engine or if the current fluid inhibitors are still adequate for corrosion protection. If the organic acid inhibitors are low cavitation, pitting and premature failure can occur. Overall, HPLC testing will help to ensure you achieve longevity with your Extended Life Coolant and engine. The Technical Bulletin, Benefits Gained from High Performance Liquid Chromatography Testing, will provide additional information on the benefits of HPLC testing and explain how the HPLC instrument operates.   

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Published July 10, 2018