Are You Using the Right Test Package?

POLARIS Laboratories® offers a wide range of fluid analysis test packages and choosing the right ones for your equipment can be difficult (especially if you’re new to fluid analysis). The most common mistake is believing basic testing is a good starting point for all programs. Basic tests for testing your oil, coolant and diesel fuel are clearly much better than changing oil at set intervals and then fixing problems after the equipment breaks down. However, it can only provide limited maintenance recommendations. So, how do you know what test packages are best for your program?

What are the Goals?

A good place to start is going back to the goals of your program that were established when you started your fluid analysis program. For example, if your goal is to optimize drain intervals of diesel engines, you need to monitor trends on when oil properties break down and can’t protect the equipment adequately. Basic testing doesn’t provide the necessary testing (oxidation/nitration and base number) to gather the data for you to make an informed decision based on the results of a basic test. It’s important to re-visit the goals of your fluid analysis program before you approach test package options and this will allow you to determine whether you need basic or advanced testing.

An Example: Karl Fisher vs. Crackle

Some test packages seem to cover the same areas, but the more expensive the test is, doesn’t necessarily mean it will provide better recommendations. For example, the Karl Fisher test runs at a higher price than the crackle method, both tests measure the water concentration, but your equipment, fluid type and how the equipment is being used affects what test should be performed.

Crackle is only an estimate of the water content while Karl Fisher will accurately measure the water content and report it in percent or parts per million. Engine oils are designed to hold a certain amount of water, so it takes a high concentration to affect the system. Crackle testing is adequate for this purpose, while Karl Fischer testing is a bit of an overkill.

On the other hand, the fluid in a hydraulic or turbine system isn’t designed to absorb nearly as much water as engine oil. In addition, the concentration where water begins to damage those systems is below the detection limit of a crackle test. In this case, Karl Fisher testing is necessary to identify when the equipment is at risk.

Choosing a Test Package

When choosing your fluid test package, keep the big picture in mind – the real savings come from preventing breakdowns, optimizing fluid drains and extending the useful life of equipment. As long as your testing provides data and recommendations that support those goals, you’re on the right track. Click here to download the complete testing list of tests provided by POLARIS Laboratories®.

If you want to discuss your current fluid analysis program or discuss the test packages options available, contact your account manager or email

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

Published June 28, 2018

Summer Heat Got You Down?

Cooling systems are already burdened with high operating temperatures, and summertime heat can take its toll on your equipment. In order to continuously improve your system’s life and maintain effectiveness, proper cooling system maintenance is vital.

So, what can you do to monitor and identify overheating issues that can lead to catastrophic failure, loss of productivity and a decrease in ROI? Routinely test your coolant – especially during the hot summer months. Read more in our technical bulletin.

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

Published June 12, 2018

ISO/IEC 17025: What Does it Mean to You?

In this day and age there are many internationally recognized quality standards. One of the most common is ISO 9001, used predominantly in the production industries. This standard primarily addresses management, corrective and preventive polices and procurement. I’m sure you’ve heard of ISO/IEC 17025 in relation to laboratory quality standards and accreditation. These requirements were developed from the ISO 9001 – with a specific focus on laboratory functions.

What is ISO/IEC 17025?

ISO/IEC 17025 specifies requirements for the competency of the entity to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods and laboratory-developed methods. It ensures accredited laboratories are able to demonstrate that they are technically proficient and that the data produced is both accurate and precise. While it is a voluntary requirement, the accreditation requirements are reviewed by third-parties to ensure that the laboratory’s quality management system is thoroughly evaluated to guarantee continued technical competency and compliance with ISO/IEC 17025.

Laboratory accreditation bodies use the ISO 17025 standard specifically to assess factors relevant to a laboratory’s ability to produce precise, accurate test and calibration data. This includes:

  • Traceability of measurements and calibrations to both national and international standards
  • Technical competence of laboratory staff
  • Test equipment maintenance
  • Quality assurance of test and calibration data
  • Validity and appropriateness of test methods
  • Appropriate handling and transportation of test items

Accreditation bodies regularly re-assess laboratories that are under the ISO/IEC 17025 for continued compliance to the standard. Furthermore, laboratories are required to participate in regular proficiency testing programs, to demonstrate their ongoing competence to perform the testing.

So, what does all of this mean to you, the customer?

Whether you are a current customer or are looking to begin fluid analysis testing with a laboratory, selecting an ISO/IEC-accredited laboratory helps you:

  • Minimize risk – an important component of the ISO 9001 quality standard.
  • Ensure you are choosing a technically-competent laboratory.
  • Gain peace of mind that the laboratory a has sound, proficient quality system in place.
  • Be confident the laboratory has had its systems and processes evaluated by an independent third party.

As an ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory, POLARIS Laboratories® demonstrates a proven track record of having a robust and effective quality system to ensure that you, the customer, can expect accurate and reliable sample data and technically-sound maintenance recommendations. Learn more about POLARIS Laboratories’ commitment to quality performance and our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation.

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

Published June 4, 2018