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.

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

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

Ensure Uptime During Times of Emergency

With the recent demand and reliance on back-up power generators as a result of 1) the global pandemic and 2) inclement weather forcing us to work from home more, this puts stress on the power grid as well as the internet connectivity now more than ever. Ensuring your back-up power generators are reliable and up and available when you need them is crucial during these times.

Here are some key points to help provide you with guidance on what to look for in our power generation systems, not limited to just engines, but the whole system. Monitoring radiator and coolant performance and fuel quality are keys to ensuring continuous uptime without any unexpected failures or run time issues.

Maintenance Tips To Perform During Each Preventive Maintenance:
  • Visual | Check the system gauges, sensors, hoses, thermostats, breathers and filters for any abnormalities, loss of pressure, damage/missing breathers or filters. Check exhaust for white or black smoke and overheating
  • Audible | Listen for any abnormal knocking, vibrations or air leaks. This may lead to performing pressure test checks on both the coolant and engine. These tests may result in further troubleshooting (pressure test checks, vibration analysis or data sensor review)
  • Smell | Coolant leaks can often lead to a sweet smell – this can be the glycol. Burnt smells can be from both coolant and engine oil. Also check for signs of strong diesel fuel or fluid leaks from hoses, radiator, head gaskets and injectors
  • Fluid | Check for emulsion (a milky lacey appearance) and visible water and/or oil or separation of fluid types. This can indicate fluid contamination
  • Visible Debris | Check for any type of flakes, flocculent, debris, wear, dirt, microorganisms or filter media in the fluid. A magnet can be used to see if the debris is magnetic. In coolants/fuels this can indicate corrosion in radiator or fuel tanks and in engines wear
Why Test All Three Fluid Types?

All three fluid types (oil, coolant and diesel fuel) run within your system in sync. If any one component type isn’t running up-to-par, it will put stress on the other components leading to a snowball effect of failures. These can easily be prevented by putting in place preventive measures to minimize failures, incur maintenance/part costs and down time. Here’s why:

  • OEM’s have stated roughly 40 percent of engine failures are due to cooling systems
  • Roughly 80 percent of premature engine failures are traced back to cooling system issues that could have been corrected by coolant sampling
  • Poor diesel fuel maintenance can result in fuel injector failures, filter plugging, smoking and loss of power
  • Dirty fuel can lead to injectors leaking fuel into the crankcase causing lubricity issues for the lubricant and increasing engine wear
  • Poor cold weather fuel properties can also lead to fuel gelling, cold filter clogging and engine failures
  • Engine and coolant overheating can place stress on the coolant system causing a chemical reaction within the coolant properties
  • Engine and lubricant overheating has a negative impact on the lubricant. Increasing the oxidative life of the oil results in  the inability to protect the engine from wear while keeping it clean.
Using the Right Fluid

Oil | Checking your engine oil will ensure the engine is not experiencing any type of abnormal wear, contamination or oil degradation. This keeps the engine running longer and prevents overheating – resulting in a longer engine life cycle.

Coolant | Ensuring that you are using the right OEM-specified coolant is the first step. Make sure to test the coolant properties yearly for signs of degradation, checking that the coolant properties are still within range and what corrections/adjustments need to be made to the formulations.

Diesel Fuel | Making sure diesel fuel properties meet ASTM D975 requirements (learn more about ASTM D975 here), during the summer and winter months is key. The fuel needs meet the quality specifications will save you on any engine related issues.

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

Published March 3, 2021

3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Shipping Delays

Sample. Ship. Results. Action!

The holidays are approaching faster than ever and we’ve recently heard from shipping carriers that it’s going to be a very busy holiday shipping season. Carriers all over the globe are seeing a surge in the number packages shipped daily.

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 busy time to eliminate your equipment’s downtime.

The good news is, we’re providing a few steps you can take now to help beat the holiday shipping rush!

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 this holiday season.

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

Published November 24, 2020

New Year: New Goals | 5 Tips to Regain Your Program

The new decade started with 2020 being a year we will not soon or easily forget. Many things were thrown out of sequence and activities were either cancelled or deferred.

If maintenance was one of those activities affected, the following may help in regaining control.

  • Take an inventory of your equipment and condition
  • Identify or reassess the importance (criticality) of each equipment in your processes
  • Dust off and review maintenance records of each individual piece of equipment
  • 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
  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 me on LinkedIn

 

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

Published October 13, 2020

Program Enrichment Review: It’s Not Just Data, It’s What You Do With It

Today’s fluid analysis capabilities offer a great deal more than just monitoring component health. With today’s technology, along with performing the proper tests, we can:

  • Monitor the condition of the oil
  • See if it is suitable for continued use
  • Reduce the amount of used oil disposal
  • Adjust maintenance intervals and strategies
  • Adjust component replacement schedules
  • Improve forecasting and budgeting
  • Increase component life hours

With all of this in mind, it begs the question, how can we be sure to maximize the return on investment from fluid analysis?  I believe the answer to this question is a Program Enrichment Review. Let’s take a look at some of the features/benefits of a Program Enrichment Review and what it can do with your data:

Pareto Principle

A “Pareto Principle” approach identifies the components that are contributing to the majority of high severity reports and helps identify corrective actions for your maintenance team. Let me share with you how POLARIS Laboratories® was able to use this principle to help a coal mining customer (see figure 1 below).  Using Pareto Charts, POLARIS Laboratories® was able to determine that out of the 87 component types on file, only 11 component types were accounting for 80% of the high severity (3’s & 4’s) reports. By using additional Pareto Charts (not shown), POLARIS Laboratories® was able to identify the coal mine’s biggest problem was abrasive contaminants (ie. coal dust, dirt, etc.). By focusing the maintenance team’s efforts on these 11 component types, and using filter carts, kidney loop filtering, seal replacement, etc., the coal mine was able to address the abrasive contaminants issue and thereby realize a 6% reduction high severity reports over a 6 month period.  The head of the maintenance team made the following statement about their fluid analysis program: “Guys, where can we spend a dollar today and get this kind of return on investment when it comes to protecting our equipment and extending its life cycle?”

Figure 1

Typical Data Shared in a Program Enrichment Review

  • Sample volume (i.e. total number of samples submitted per quarter)
  • High severity reports (severity 3’s & 4’s / scale of 0-4) by region, location, asset, etc.
  • Identify issues via Pareto charts (i.e. 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes)
  • Scatter plots – help determine optimum drain intervals via key performance indicators (e.g. viscosity, acid number, base number, oxidation, fuel dilution, soot loading, etc.)
  • HORIZON® web-based management reports (e.g. Problem Summary Report, Severity Summary Report, Data Analysis Report, Action Taken Summary Report – ROI, etc.)
  • Scorecards (i.e. Component Compliance, Sampling Frequency Compliance, High Severity %, Shipping Time, etc.)
  • Technical Business Consultant’s subject matter expertise (i.e. observations & recommendations)

Quarterly Program Enrichment Reviews

Delivering the Program Enrichment Review via a quarterly virtual meeting with the customer’s “Program Champion” and maintenance team will serve as a venue to share both challenges and best practices associated with their fluid analysis program and maintenance “best practices”.

It’s Not Just Data, It’s What You Do With It!

Maximize asset reliability and regain control of your production schedules with an effective fluid analysis program by POLARIS Laboratories® . . . it costs so little to protect so much.

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

Published September 22, 2020