Case Study: Extending Oil Drains with Micropatch Testing

When looking at options available to extend oil drain intervals, a U.K.-based power generation company contacted Delta-Xero® (a fluid systems manufacturer) to assess their new filtration systems as a potential way to remove or reduce contamination levels, optimize oil drain intervals and realize better cost and environmental savings on the company’s operating units.

Download the case study below to see how the power generation customer utilized micropatch testing on their samples to better understand the condition of the oil, and with close monitoring and regular sampling, was able to extend the oil drain interval from a weekly change of around 150 hours, to an operating time of 650 hours on average. This has resulted in a significant decrease in the amount of oil changes required on each engine, as well as significant savings on the labor involved, and the associated disposal costs of the used oil from each change out.

Download the Case Study

Submit Samples Faster with QR Code Asset Tags

Any number of component ID’s registered on the HORIZON® platform can instantly be rendered into a QR code directly from your list of equipment. The QR codes can be conveniently printed and affixed near the sample point of the corresponding equipment with a tag or label. The component ID tag can then be scanned anytime with your smartphone while using the HORIZON mobile app. Whether registering a sample after collection or searching for the latest sample report, component ID tags effortlessly identify the asset’s sample point on-the-spot.

Here are just a few advantages of utilizing component ID QR code tags:

  • Completely eliminates the need to hand-enter ID’s
  • Decreases time locating equipment and increases operational efficiency and productivity
  • Streamline sample registration during maintenance intervals saving time
  • Instantly locate reports for a unit with signs of trouble
  • Maintain component ID integrity utilizing the same identifications system across your organization without the pollution of false IDs or risk when units move location
  • Integration with CMMS or 3rd party applications incorporating the same component ID
  • Easily able to scan even when damaged and can be manually read in a worst state scenario

Learn More about QR code tags

Avoid Delays and Ship Samples ASAP

Sample. Ship. Results. 

Taking into account the shipping issues and labor shortages affecting shipments in addition to the holidays fast approaching, it’s more important now than ever to ship your samples as soon as you can so they can make it to the laboratory for testing.

We know how vital your sample results are when faced with making tough maintenance decisions and we want to help you prepare to navigate this crazy time to eliminate your equipment’s downtime.

The good news is, we’re providing a few steps you can take now to help tackle today’s shipping problems we’re facing.

1. Pre-order Kits and Supplies

Place orders for sample kits now. Having a back stock of sample jars on hand for when equipment is scheduled for its upcoming preventive maintenance makes it simple and convenient to pull your samples. Don’t forget to add tubing, vacuum pumps, prepaid postage and valves to your cart!

2. Implement a Shipping Strategy

Get those important samples taken and send them on their way to the closest laboratory as soon as you can (click here to see all of our locations). Timing is everything these days and, if you plan accordingly, you can avoid your package being delayed by this season’s holiday shipping surge. Also, be sure to utilize carriers who offer a trackable shipping service to our laboratory doors. This way you know when your package arrives for processing.

3. Communication

Team communication is very important as well this holiday season. Make sure your team is prepared to ship samples out to a laboratory location closest to them as soon as they can (click here for a guide on How to Ship Samples). In addition, make sure they know that they can purchase prepaid UPS labels on the online store when ordering kits. These pre-paid labels are perfect for a 10-pack of samples and are designed to reduce packaging preparation time so you can get your samples on their way to the laboratory.

While these are unprecedented times, POLARIS Laboratories® is continually looking for ways to save you time and money.

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

Published November 2, 2021

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

Connect with Henry on LinkedIn

Julio Acosta

Connect with Julio on LinkedIn


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

Published October 19, 2021

When to Add Micropatch or Analytical Ferrography

Micropatch and Analytical Ferrography

Micropatch and Analytical Ferrography are typically performed after standard testing indicates a problem, meaning a problem warrants further investigation. These tests help data analysts study particle wear on machine components by visually analyzing the oil’s captured deposits. It may also be used to predict and diagnose equipment faults.

Catch What Oil Analysis Cannot

Ideally, mission-critical components should receive Micropatch or Analytical Ferrography testing on a regular basis to identify trends similar to standard oil analysis. Since these methods are qualitative and visual tests, an analyst may identify precursors to failure modes. This includes signs such as metallic spheres (which point to early signs of fatigue) or thermal discoloration (signs of excessive heat in localized areas), which would not be able be detectable in routine elemental analysis (ASTM D5185).

Signs to Add Micropatch or Analytical Ferrography

In summary, either test is a microscopic analysis of insoluble deposits in the sample, but both tests are not always appropriate. The Analytical Ferrography is recommended when a certain detection of iron is present from elemental analysis results or high ferrous density from particle quantifier testing. If the extrapolated limits identify an abnormal level, this test is used to determine wear mode (corrosive, fatigue, fretting, etc.) and condition severity based on the size, shape, and frequency of the respective deposits. The elemental analysis will only provide detection of particles sizing smaller than approximately ten microns. The microscope test will not discriminate captured wear metals with respect to the particle size, and enough iron will also cause non-ferrous metals and/or contaminants to deposit as well. The ferrogram’s glass slide may also heat-treat if certain wear metal deposits are unidentifiable. Alloys will experience a variety of thermal discoloration at a certain temperature based on the metallic composition, which provides allowance for improved recommendations.

The Micropatch is a suitable choice when elevated non-ferrous wear metals or external contamination are present in the absence of a significant iron detection. One of the greatest benefits of this test is the membrane patch will capture essentially all insoluble deposits in the oil. However, the level of contamination from other sources (dirt, soot, environmental contaminants, etc.) has the potential to sway an analyst from this recommendation versus the Analytical Ferrography. If too much contamination is present or expected to be present, particle stacking may occur, and significant information may be lost due to an inability for visual identification. The Analytical Ferrography testing has available techniques which may be able to avoid this issue during interpretation.


Analytical Ferrography and Micropatch Testing

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

Published September 10, 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.

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

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


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


Identifying and Tackling 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.

The following tests can further investigate the size and shape of the particles to help your team discover the source of the contamination and assess the damage to the component:

  • Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (AES-ICP):
    • Elemental analysis (usually performed by an ICP) can identify the most common wear and contamination elements and quantify the concentration of contamination, with a size limitation of particles less than 8 to 10 micron in size, but other typical oil analysis technology can provide additional information of the sizes and type of contamination.
  • Particle Count
  • Particle Quantifier
    • This technology will determine ferrous contamination without a size limitation. And when used in conjunction with AES-ICP when comparing PQ results with ICP results the severity of ferrous particles present can be understood. The ICP will detect the smaller sizes and the Particle Quantifier result greater than ICP would indicate larger particles are present.
      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
    • See the multiple techniques to quantify particles
  • Microscope Analysis

Each test takes a slightly different approach to this task, and each have their own limitations.

Thankfully, not every method should be included in every circumstance. Recommended tests vary based on type of equipment, equipment criticality, and operating cycles. POLARIS Laboratories® is here to help you choose the best, most cost effective testing for your application. Reach out today for assistance on selecting to correct method for each of your equipment to provide the best information to catch concerns early overall increasing your ROI.

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

Published April 7, 2021

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