Are You Testing for Particle Contamination?

The most common cause of equipment failure is particle contamination. This includes external contaminants, such as dirt or sand, as well as the microscopic pieces of metal generated during equipment operation. Elemental analysis (usually performed by an ICP) can quantify the concentration of contamination, but other typical oil analysis testing can provide additional information.

Further testing can investigate the size and shape of the particles to help maintenance personnel discover the source of the contamination and assess the damage to the component. Particle count, particle quantifier, filter debris analysis, micropatch and analytical ferrography tests each take a slightly different approach to this task, and each have their own limitations.

Thankfully, not every test is needed in every circumstance. Recommended tests vary based on type of equipment, equipment criticality, and operating cycles. POLARIS Laboratories® employees will always be willing to help you choose the best, most cost effective testing for your application.

This technical bulletin explains the different particle count tests available in the market today and their limits in testing used oil. Quantifying particles can be done with multiple techniques as well. Filter debris analysis can evaluate the cause of filter plugging or unexpected breakdown.

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Published October 31, 2016

The Mystery of the Four Silent Killers

Shipping Samples: How to Avoid Leaking Bottles


Are you seeing dark spots on your scanned sample paperwork? Was your sample not run because there was not enough fluid? These are both signs your sample may have leaked in transit. Lucky for you, there are a few simple actions you can take to both prevent samples from leaking and improve your testing experience.

The following questions can help you determine the cause of your sample leaks and help you make improvements.

Are you checking to see if your bottle cap is secure before sending?
When samples are filled with a hot fluid and the lid is secured, the bottle will expand from the heat. Once it has cooled, your cap may no longer be tightly secure. Before you place your sample in the mailer, check to see if each lid is tightly closed. This will help prevent both damaged paperwork and fluid loss.

Are you submitting your samples online via HORIZON®?
If you are using a paper copy of the sample submission form to submit your sample, a leaky bottle can spill on the paper, resulting in hard to read paperwork and processing errors. Using online or mobile sample submission can help you avoid this issue and ensure your sample information is readable by the POLARIS Laboratories® team.

Are you only submitting paper forms?
If you choose to submit your samples with a paper form, instead of HORIZON, it is especially important your bottles are cool and caps are secure. This can protect your paperwork from a leak, ensuring your samples are processed efficiently and accurately. When submitting the paper form, be sure to take advantage of the pocket on the outside of the envelope mailer.

Are you properly packing your paperwork?
The most effective way of avoiding a sample leak is by taking the time to properly pack your samples for transit. Be sure to place your paperwork in the pocket on the outside of your envelope mailer. This will help ensure your paperwork is safe and dry should the sample leak. Double check your work and make sure you are carefully writing all information.

Are you unable to read scanned sample paperwork? Seeing spots?
If you are seeing dark spots on your scanned sample paperwork, your sample is most likely leaking in transit. Check with your maintenance team to verify everyone is following proper procedure when shipping samples. This includes: allowing samples to cool and double checking all sample bottle lids are tightly secured. Submitting samples online or storing your paperwork away from the sample, when placed in the mailer, can also help you prevent damaged paperwork and delayed results.

For more information on sample submission, check out my recent blog post on the Dos and Don’ts of Sample Submission.

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Building a Partnership

At POLARIS Laboratories® our goal is to work with you to build a healthy and successful fluid analysis program. We do this by viewing our business relationships as partnerships, not transactions. While we supply fluid analysis testing, our main objective is to help you and your business’s maintenance program succeed.

We support this objective by providing our partners with all of the tools, resources and support they need to build a profitable program. Like all partnerships, this relationship has to go both ways. While POLARIS Laboratories® HORIZON® management tool can provide insights into your program health, it is the role of the customer to run the reports and act upon any abnormalities.

The greatest tool we offer is our account managers. More likely than not, you’ve communicated with your account manager about your program sometime in the last month. These individuals are prepared to help you make pivotal decisions about your program structure and testing. Communicating with these knowledgeable individuals is an essential part of building a successful partnership.

Another way we build partnerships is through our private label programs. These relationships help us support our customer’s programs, giving them the confidence of knowing their own client’s analysis will be done at the highest level of quality.

If you’re interested in building a partnership with POLARIS Laboratories® or have any questions about how we can help you improve your already existing program, please feel free to contact us.


Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
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Diesel Fuel: Identifying Fuel Filter Plugging

It’s Monday morning, you walk into work and…

 1. Your dump truck is down for the count. You spend the rest of the day trying to determine the cause of the issue. 

 2. You receive your fluid analysis report and realize your dump truck has high particle counts. You schedule downtime for Wednesday to replace the fuel filter.

Which option sounds most appealing? Managing downtime caused by a plugged fuel filter is easy. It all comes down to testing your diesel fuel.

Plugged fuel filters are a fairly common issue to have. Fuel filters are used to remove contaminants from diesel fuel systems. The filter acts as a shield against contaminants, blocking them from entering expensive equipment and causing significant damage. When a filter is plugged it means contaminants such as fungus, bacteria, asphaltenes, and sediments have entered your diesel fuel and latched onto the filter.

A plugged filter can cause a number of issues including insufficient cold weather capability and downtime. Since neither of these problems are fun to manage, determining if your filter is plugged is essential.

We offer a variety of test packages to help you identify what is happening with your diesel fuel including: particle count, pour point, cloud point, thermal stability, and bacteria, fungi and mold.

If you are a current customer interested in testing your diesel fuel, please feel free to email us at If you are a new customer who would like to start a program, fill out this form to contact us


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

It’s Tradeshow Season

Navigating your way through the chaos of tradeshows can be daunting. I understand, believe me. With as many tradeshows as I’ve attended and booths I’ve organized, I’ve picked up a few tips I can share on making the most of the experience. All I ask in return is that you keep an eye out for POLARIS Laboratories® next time you’re wandering through an exhibit hall.

They key to successfully navigating a tradeshow is to ensure you maximize your limited time by making meaningful introductions and visiting with important contacts you already have. Always enter a tradeshow with a mission: follow these suggestions to get started: 

  1. Plan your route. Before you step foot in the exhibition room, take a look at the layout and determine what booths you have to visit and who you want to learn more about.
  2. Prioritize. What do you want to achieve from attending the tradeshow? While you’re waiting for your plane to take off or riding the shuttle to the event, outline and prioritize your goals.
  3. Know your questions. Whether you have scheduled a private appointment with a vendor or are just stopping by a booth, know what questions you need answered and have them ready.
  4. Take notes. Whether you’re using an iPad or gathering old fashioned business cards, taking notes is the best way to ensure you don’t forget anything valuable.
  5. Think it through. Before making any hasty decisions about a product or service, take time to think about how the service will help you improve your business. It is okay to close with plans for a follow up post-show. 
  6. You don’t have to go it alone. If there’s someone in your company that could benefit from obtaining new information, bring them along!
  7. Have fun. Tradeshows are an exciting learning opportunity and a great way to make new contacts in the industry. Plus, who doesn’t love to be away from the office for just a little bit?

You can visit the POLARIS Laboratories® booth at the International Maintenance Conference in Bonita Springs, Florida from December 12 to 16. Look for booth #415. Hope to see you there!

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

Published October 9, 2016

Preparing for Winter Weather

Did you know your coolant and diesel fuel can both be negatively impacted by nasty winter weather? Monitoring your fluids before this unpredictable season can help you avoid damage to your equipment as well as unexpected downtime.

There’s nothing worse than having an asset break down in the cold, snowy slush of winter. To keep any unwanted damage from occurring, you need to make sure you are performing the right tests on your coolant and diesel fuel.

When you start monitoring your diesel fuel, cloud point, pour point, and cold filter plug point testing can help you determine if your fuel is able to perform at low temperatures. It’s important to conduct these tests as, in cold weather, the paraffins in your diesel fuel will form filter clogging wax crystals– causing a major engine issue.

Coolant can also run into trouble in the winter. When glycol levels are low, the freeze protection may not be adequate for the winter cold. This is a major problem that results in extremely expensive repairs plus downtime to fix the issue. Testing your glycol percent and refraining from mixing your coolant can help you avoid any unplanned maintenance.

To learn more about how winter can impact your equipment health, download this winter health sheet. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at


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