How to Prepare Your Program for 2022

After the events of 2020 throwing operations out of whack, we had high hopes for 2021. Unfortunately, the maintenance industry continued to struggle – whether it be labor shortages or lubricant shortages. But, we’re here to give you a little hope for 2022. We’re here to help you get your maintenance program ready for a new year.

Here are some tips to regain control of your maintenance program:

  1. Take an inventory of your equipment and conditions
  2. Identify or reassess the importance (criticality) of each equipment in your processes
  3. Dust off and review maintenance records of each individual piece of equipment
  4. Identify specific needs for each piece of equipment

If fluid analysis is one tool you use to assess equipment conditions, then consider these:

  1. Collaborate with your Technical Business Consultant | Identify specific actions/activities that will enhance the impact of a well-managed fluid analysis program (our team’s contact info is listed below)
  2. Audit your Equipment List | Complete any missing information and move inactive equipment to a mothball account
  3. Review Your Users | Assess your list of active users and add new or remove those that are no longer needed
  4. Determine Training Needs | Identify gaps and schedule appropriate sessions and topics
  5. Develop and Participate in a Program Review | Program reviews highlight areas where the program is being successful, as well as those needing improvement. Specific equipment in need of attention can be identified as well.

If you are ready to refocus your maintenance and fluid analysis, contact your POLARIS Laboratories® Technical Business Consultant for assistance in reviewing your maintenance practices so you can take your fluid analysis program to the next level.

POLARIS Laboratories® Technical Business Consultants:

Henry Neicamp

hneicamp@polarislabs.com

Connect with Henry on LinkedIn

Julio Acosta

jacosta@polarislabs.com

Connect with Julio on LinkedIn

 

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Published October 19, 2021

Why Accurate Sample Information is Important

Garbage In, Garbage Out

In this day and age, we have all encountered a situation where our personal data is not correct; it could be the bank has an old phone number or a store has a wrong or an old email address. POLARIS Laboratories® is no different when it comes to data – one area that hinders us and our laboratories is receiving accurate fluid information with your sample.

Why the Right Fluid Information is So Critical

It’s pretty simple really. If you send in a sample with incorrect fluid information, when we compare the test results from your sample to the information submitted, (the basis of a lot of the maintenance recommendations we make to you). If that information is correct, we are able to give you precise, actionable recommendations tailored to your application. If the information is incorrect, not only do the maintenance recommendations no longer hold as much value, but in some cases, we may recommend an incorrect action or repair.

To make matters worse, your test results may be delayed. For example, with the wrong fluid identified when submitted, we may send samples back to be retested in our laboratories to confirm, what looks like on paper, to be an incorrect result. This delays the results getting back to you. A more extreme example is submitting a used engine oil as an engine coolant, meaning the wrong test package may be applied, resulting in the sample going through the complete wrong testing thus missing issues you desperately need to be identified.

Blood Work as an Analogy

A good analogy for this would be getting getting blood taken at a doctor’s office. My blood, a middle-aged man, is submitted but the paperwork is mixed up. But because of the incorrect information, my blood is tested and the results compared to a 15 year old female – a very extreme case, but it could happen. My doctor gets the results back and then instructs me to go directly to hospital because my results say I’m in critical condition. The results from my blood are considered normal for a middle-aged male, but definitely abnormal for a 15-year old female.

Better Data = Better Predictions

It’s critical to a successful fluid analysis program that all applicable fields are filled in when submitting a sample. Testing in the laboratory is heavily dependent on the submission fields and directly affects whether or not a fluid receives the right laboratory testing and you recieve the right recommendations.

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Published August 11, 2021

Open the Valve to Data-Rich Samples

Regularly sampling the oil, coolant and diesel fuel circulating within your systems used for power generation is vital to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of these systems when they are required to be used, either for back-up or permanent power.

It’s All in the Sample

Taking regular, representative samples is critical to guaranteeing accurate, actionable fluid analysis test results are determined. This helps assess the condition of your fluids and if any maintenance is required to ensure uptime of the equipment when needed.

Want to Get an Accurate Sample Every Single Time AND Save 5 Minutes Per Sample? 

Of course you do! Using sample ports and valves ensures that representative samples are taken from all systems, each and every time by confirming that the fluid extracted is representative of the bulk fluid circulating within the unit. As well as providing the ‘best sample possible’, using sample valves also significantly reduces the time and labour required when taking samples. Studies show that using sample valves instead of traditional vacuum pump and tubing method reduces the sample collection process by up to 5 minutes per system. Samples can also be taken safely whilst the equipment is running which further enhances the quality of the sample.

There’s a Valve for You

Valves can be retro-fitted to fit any system and we’re here to provide guidance on the optimum valve required for the component. In addition, we help determine the valve location for any system to ensure the best possible sample can be taken. POLARIS Laboratories® can also provide you with a valve ROI calculator to demonstrate the potential cost savings of installing and using valves for your fluid analysis program.

Make the switch today and benefit from opening the valve on labour cost savings and increases in data-rich samples.

Contact us to start installing sample valves on your equipment.

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

Published August 3, 2021

Preparing Your Systems for Hurricane Season

As we recover from a difficult 2020 year, have you put much thought in 2021 and what it might bring?

Do you know that 2020 (for the second time in history) we exhausted the 21-name Atlantic hurricane list? We started using the Greek alphabet for the remainder of the season, extending it through the ninth name on the list by the end of the year.

2020 also marked the 10th consecutive year with eight or more billion-dollar disasters*.

Comparing Hurricane Sandy 2012 and Irene 2011 aftermath in relation to the devastation of electric infrastructure was significant. Following Hurricane Sandy, utilities had restored power to 95 percent of affected customers 10 days after outages peaked compared with 5 days following Irene.

Energy Impacts of Hurricane Irene vs. Hurricane Sandy

Electric Customer Outages from Irene : 6.69 million

Electric Customer Outages from Sandy: 8.66 million

Petroleum Refining Capacity Shut from Irene: 238,000 barrels/day

Petroleum Refining Capacity Shut from Sandy: 308,000 barrels/day

Manufacturing facilities that plan and prepare for high winds, flooding, loss of power and raw materials, disruptions in infrastructure and other challenges posed by hurricanes find that they can often minimize damage to their assets.

Each storm is different, it is vital to know your plant’s vulnerabilities and how to reduce them.

Are you Hurricane Ready?

Knowing that your Standby Generator is “Hurricane Ready” to provide power to your facility not only to keep vital production up but also to keep all ancillary equipment like pumping capacity in case of flooding. Restoring production after power outages from hurricanes or other weather-related disasters can be costly both in waste and safety. Remember, you might be out of power for more than a few hours you could be out for a few days depending on your power distribution location.

Allow POLARIS Laboratories® to partner with you to prepare your standby equipment oil, coolant and fuel to ensure your equipment is ready to start and run during these types of disasters.

 

Dave Tingey

Product Application Specialist

POLARIS Laboratories

 

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*https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/

How to Avoid On-Hold Samples

Having your fluid sample placed on hold creates a hold-up for our laboratory processing your sample, laboratory performing testing and in turn, a delay in providing you with the important results you need to take action. As your fluid analysis provider, we want to make sure we provide the most accurate results as possible by testing the right fluids for the right components for the right equipment and that the information is recorded in the right account.

Based on our internal research of on-hold samples, 1.72% of all fluid samples sent to our laboratories are placed on hold – this equates to more than 25,000 samples per year.

Reasons for On-Hold

Based on our research, 85% of fluid samples that are placed on hold are indicated as having seven different reasons. Here are the top 7 reasons a sample is placed on hold before it can be processed, tested and analyzed:

  1. Locked Account | We are unable to add your equipment to your account in our sample data system. This could be because of a request from your account owner.
  2. No Information | There is little to no account information for us to be able to identify the sample. This means there is incomplete, incorrect or missing information submitted.
  3. Prepaid Barcode Required | Your account is set up for prepaid sample barcodes, we received your sample without one of these barcodes and are unable to process your sample
  4. Unknown Account | There was no account information submitted with your sample.
  5. Missing Required Info | We are missing sample or component information that is required for your account.
  6. Incorrect Sample Form | Your fluid sample was received with a form that did not match the fluid type.
  7. Component Type | Your sample was submitted with no component type. To perform the correct fluid testing, we need the type of component your sample came from.
What if your sample is placed on hold?

We’ve put together an infographic outlining what you can do to resolve your on-hold sample so it can be placed in the laboratory queue for testing – and so you can get your results when you need them.

In addition, on your HORIZON® Dashboard, you can click on the blue link by ‘samples on hold’ to submit a resolution to address the on-hold issue. We will review your resolution and contact you if we need additional information.

Why is My Sample on Hold?

So, what can your team do to avoid your samples being placed on hold?
  • Ensure your account information in HORIZON® is correct with the owner of your account
  • Pay the correct amount of postage due (if you’re using a non pre-paid test kit)
  • Make sure both the account and component information is correct when submitting your sample
  • Submit all the required sample information
  • Avoid paperwork errors – submit your samples through online sample submission in HORIZON

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

Published March 25, 2021

Determining Degradation in Your Fuel

Fuel prices have been at an all-time low, the global pandemic had slowed down the economy, winter’s grip is lessening, you have weathered 2020 … has your fuel?

Fuel can degrade in storage while waiting for use and environmental conditions, water and bio duel blends can accelerate that degradation in your fuels.

What Is Diesel Fuel Degradation?

All diesel fuel degrades. The oxidative instability in diesel fuel creates fuel degradation materials like sediments and acids. These materials can result in hard particulate formation, corrosion, filter clogging and damage to fuel pumps and injector through deposits. The consequences can include increased maintenance issues, poor fuel economy, diminished performance and poor combustion quality resulting in issues like black smoke and difficulty starting, or even complete mechanical failure.

How to Avoid Diesel Fuel Degradation?

Most times, you’re not aware of how long your fuel may have been in storage, whether it’s for a short or considerable amount of time, the potential for fuel degradation is increasing.

What steps can you take to avoid or minimize it? It starts with understanding your fuels current state.

  1.  Test Your Fuel | Testing can help you know where your fuel stands. Understanding water contamination, biodiesel levels, cleanliness levels and degradation tendencies of the fuel.
  2. Understand Your Storage Tank Levels | Low fuel levels in a storage tank allows the formation of condensate. When you top off your diesel fuel storage tank, make sure you leave about 10-15 percent space on the top to minimize the condensation and to allow your fuel to react safely with changes in temperature.
  3. Keep a clean tank | Ensure draining your tank of settled water or clean your tank regularly so that there are fewer particles present that can cause a reaction with hour fuel.

To learn more about keeping your fuel clean, monitor degradation and keep it in usable condition, see our Technical Bulletin Verify Fuel Specs with ULSDF Testing, linked below.

Verify Fuel Specs with ULSDF Testing

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Published February 16, 2021

Monitor Biodiesel Content with FAME Testing

If you’re in the fuel industry, or store diesel to refuel your vehicles/machinery on site, then it’s likely you’ve heard about the increasing level of biodiesel and Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) content. What problems can it cause and how do we overcome them?

Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME)

One of the reasons for Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) use in biodiesel instead of free fatty acids is to nullify any corrosion that free fatty acids would cause to the metals of engines, production facilities and so forth. Free fatty acids are only mildly acidic but, in time, can cause cumulative corrosion unlike their esters.

Water is All Life” I’m sure you have all heard that phrase. For biodiesel blends it is more than true – it’s detrimental. The methyl esters in biodiesel are hygroscopic, meaning they can absorb considerably more moisture than petroleum-derived diesel and hold this in suspension in the fuel. When water is able to contaminate diesel, it provides conditions suitable for microbial growth and can lead to molds, yeasts and bacteria spreading throughout the fuel.

What is FAME?

  • FAME is bio-degradable and is an ideal source of nutrients for microbes
  • If contamination is left untreated, it can damage the fuel permanently
  • Petroleum-derived fuels absorb considerably less moisture by comparison and tend to shed water as a separate layer at the bottom of storage tanks
  • Acting as a detergent, it cleans any residual dirt or impurities from the tank walls and pipework it passes through, which ultimately end up in the fuel itself. This can lead to clogged filters and failed diesel fuel reports for cleanliness.

Types of FAME

Another factor in bio content, it is the type of FAME blended into the fuel, which can be very problematic. Biodiesel produced from soybeans, which is more common in the U.S. than in Europe, and is particularly problematic. Soybean Methyl Esther has a lower oxidation stability than biodiesel produced from other feedstock. Yet biodiesel has been a major boon to soybean farmers and they’ve been a major force behind raising the blend requirements. Biodiesel made from animal fat (tallow) has a higher level of saturates meaning it is more prone to waxing/gelling. It begins to crystallize at higher temperatures than bio made from vegetables oils, making your fuel appear cloudy and your filters clog. This higher cloud point makes the use of such biodiesel less suitable in the winter, which can further issues experienced when the cold months arise.

Why is BioDiesel Dilution Problematic?

Biodiesel Fuel Dilution can be a problem. Because biodiesel has a higher flash point than petroleum diesel, the biodiesel does not combust allowing the biodiesel to collect inside the crankcase of the engine itself and turn to sludge. This crankcase sludging is irreversible and over time can lead to catastrophic engine failure.

Learn more about biodiesel testing offered by POLARIS Laboratories® by downloading our technical bulletin Biodiesel Testing Ensures Quality below.

Biodiesel Testing Ensures Quality, Detects Potential Filter Plugging Problems

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Published February 4, 2021

Keeping Your Generators Compliant with NFPA 110

NFPA 110

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) Standard 110 is the standard for testing emergency and stand-by generators. This standard outlines ways to prevent the disruption of critical loads in case of emergency. The standard also lists the tests necessary to fall within compliance with the authorities who have jurisdiction (AHJ) for code enforcement. However, the NFPA 110 only provides a recommendation on the tests that should be performed; they are set by the following entities:

Diesel generator systems are used for backup electric power.

  • Manufacturer’s Recommendation
  • Instruction Manuals
  • NFPA 110 Chapter 8 Minimum Requirements
  • AHJ (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) Requirements

Are your generators compliant?

Testing the diesel fuel in stand-by power generators is critical for the safety of those who may be in need of emergency power. The tests necessary to remain compliant with the standards set by the NFPA for your area may vary, but the frequency of testing should be monthly to ensure that the stand-by generators will work up to spec if called upon.

Contact POLARIS Laboratories® today to learn more and to get diesel fuel testing set up for your stand-by power generators today!

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

Published August 29, 2019

Why Is Fuel Testing Important?

 

Cleanliness Standards

Today’s diesel engine fuel systems are designed with tighter clearances and operate under higher pressures than those of the past. Fuel cleanliness is critical in keeping your fuel system operating efficiently and preventing premature wear of vital components.

But, That’s Not All…

The cleanliness of the fuel is not the only thing that should be considered. The correct fuel test package can help identify the root cause of many issues, including:

  • Engine performance concerns
  • Fuel filter plugging
  • Excessive engine smoking
  • Lubricity concerns
  • Fuel quality concerns for both winter and summer operations
  • Bio fuel concerns
  • Growth of bacteria, fungi & mold
  • Sulphur content validation

At a minimum, routine fuel testing should consist of:

  • Fuel cleanliness
  • Fuel quality
  • Fuel contamination

When To Test Your Fuel

The recommended interval for fuel testing is dependent on the industry and the volume of fuel consumed. For industries with large consumptions, with resupply of fuel on a daily basis (tanker loads), you might consider checking fuel cleanliness on each delivery. For others, a fuel quality and contamination check may only be needed twice per year, at the start of the winter months when switching to winter grade fuels, and then again when switching back to the summer blend.

Based on the results of these tests, or if you suspect fuel-related issues, advanced fuel testing should be considered.

At POLARIS Laboratories®, we offer a wide range of fuel test packages. Please feel free to contact us and we will gladly assist you in customizing a fuel test package to meet your needs.

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Published  February 12, 2019

What You Need to Know about ASTM D975

What diesel fuel testing do you really need?

What is ASTM D975?

We’ve recently gotten a flood of inquiries regarding testing diesel fuel for ASTM D975, but there seems to be confusion on what ASTM D975 is and how it relates to monitoring the quality of diesel fuel. ASTM D975 is the Standard Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils. It is not one test, but rather, it is the specification that describes 13 tests and their acceptable limits, which a diesel fuel must meet at the time of delivery.

Does your fuel meet the requirements?

As a diesel fuel purchaser, you can send a sample to your laboratory to confirm the fuel meets all of the ASTM D975 requirements, but that is unnecessary. Instead, ask your fuel supplier for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) and save yourself thousands of dollars. Just be aware, ASTM D975 does reference a handful of tests that are applicable to monitor in fuels post-delivery, because several fuel properties change over time.

Could storage tanks be impacting your fuel?

If your operation uses bulk fuel storage tanks or you have fuel being stored long-term in standby generators, then we do recommend testing your fuel at least annually – but not for the full suite of ASTM D975 tests. We’ve identified two concerns for long-term diesel fuel storage:

  1. Has the fuel become contaminated?
    • Controlling contamination is the biggest challenge for fuel storage. Water and debris can enter the tank, leading to a variety of issues, including biological growth and injector damage. It’s less likely, but diesel fuel may come in contact with another fluid including oil, coolant or gasoline. These contaminates could change fuel properties, such as flash point, impact ignition quality and cause tank corrosion.
  2. Has there been a change in the fuel’s properties to withstand temperature extremes?
    • You want to be aware of how well your fuel can withstand temperature changes. If you live in an area where ambient temperatures drop significantly in winter months, you need to monitor your fuel’s cloud point and pour point to ensure the fuel will stay fluid and not clog filters. A fuel’s thermal stability is also a critical property to monitor. A fuel with poor thermal stability will experience asphaltene fall out as it is exposed to high crank-case temperatures. This can also lead to plugged filters and abrasive fuel system wear.

As a diesel fuel purchaser dependent on diesel fuel to run your operation, it’s important to know what is included in ASTM D975 and how it effects your diesel fuel quality and cleanliness.

Click here to read more detailed information on diesel fuel testing recommendations.

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Published February 27, 2018