6 Steps to Effective Program Management

Today’s oil 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 and increase component life hours.

So how can we be sure to maximize the return on investment from oil analysis?  Well, in my opinion, I believe it needs to encompass the following six steps to be a “world class – best practices” fluid analysis program.

1. Selecting a Quality Laboratory

  • Accurate, reliably and timely
  • Certifications and accreditations
  • Consistent turnaround time
  • Testing capabilities
  • Relevancy of maintenance recommendations
  • Information management tools
  • Facility locations

2. Determine Program Goals

  • What are the goals? Is it to extend oil drain intervals, reduce failures, extend equipment life expectancy, control maintenance and lubrication costs, just to name a few
  • Whatever the goal(s), if you do not establish these goals upfront, and do not have the appropriate testing set up to match these goals, your program will never reach its full potential

3. Create Detailed Equipment List

  • Equipment list information should be submitted to the laboratory before oil samples are ever submitted for analysis
  • Consider the following when compiling the list: Unit Type, OEM, Model Number, Lubricant Manufacturer, Lube Type/Grade, Filtration Type/Size, Sump Capacity and Sampling Interval
  • Read more about adding and edit equipment in HORIZON® here.

4. Identify Resources Available

  • Data Manager – a “gate keeper” to manage and store the data, who ideally is a person with good computer and internet skills
  • Sampler – an “oiler” who is trained on sampling devices/techniques, selects the appropriate testing, takes representative samples at specified intervals, and follows the proper procedure for submitting all of the required information along with the sample to the laboratory

5. The Importance of Time

  • Once taken, sample(s) should be shipped immediately to the laboratory
  • Upon receiving the laboratory report, findings must be evaluated and work order(s) issued, so data analyst’s recommendations will be acted upon as soon as possible, and then findings are communicated back to the laboratory

6. Report to Management

  • Management speaks in the language of “dollars and cents”, so you need to communicate the “savings” to upper management in terms of reduction in oil costs, uptime reports, failure reductions, etc., and ultimately perform/document cost savings due to oil analysis. Read more about finding that “Aha” moment and realizing ROI here.

Find out more about our solutions to effectively managing your program.

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 October 22, 2019

 

Tips for Pulling a Fluid Sample for Analysis

From oils to coolants, from coolants to grease – we all have our own methods for pulling a sample. But are you truly getting the best representative sample to send for testing? An accurate, representative sample will get you the most reliable sample results, so you can take the correct maintenance action. Want to learn more about best practices for pulling a sample?  See below for some tips:

Oil and Coolant Samples

There are several methods for pulling oil and coolant samples including a vacuum pump, probing valve and a pushbutton method.

  • Tips for using a Vacuum Pump Method
    • Use to pull samples from a dipstick or non-pressurized system
    • Pull a sample when equipment is at or close to normal operating temperature
    • Make sure the tubing is long enough to reach the middle of the reservoir tank
  • Tips for using a KST Series Probing Valve Method
    • Use with valves installed on a pressurized system with a minimum of 4 psi to a maximum of 1000 psi
    • Pull sample when equipment is at or near normal operating temperature
    • Wipe the valve clean with a dry and lint-free cloth
    • Flush at least 3 times into a “waste container” under the valve to purge stagnant oil and debris.
    • Fill the sample bottle bottle approximately 3/4 full
  • Tips for using a KP Pushbutton Sampling Valve Method
    • Use with valves installed on a pressurized line with a minimum of 4 psi to a maximum of 100 psi
    • Pull sample when equipment is at or near normal operating temperature
    • Remove protective valve cap and wipe opening with a dry and lint-free clean cloth
    • Flush at least 3 times into a separate container and then dispose of the waste oil
    • Fill the sample bottle bottle approximately 3/4 full

For full, step-by-step instructions for taking an oil sample or a coolant sample with these methods, view our technical bulletins or view our Fluid Analysis Sampling and Submission video.

Fluid Analysis Sampling and Submission

Grease Samples

There are two methods for collecting grease samples including a standard grease sampler device or a T-Handle.

  • Grease Sampler Method
    • Each kit comes with a plunger, syringe, spatula and grease sampler used collect your sample
    • Collect grease from the component and fill syringe
    • Use the syringe to fill the grease sampler
  • T-Handle Method
    • Use this method to collect a representative sample when a spatula can’t reach the active zone
    • Attach the grease sampler to the T-Handle tool
    • Measure the appropriate depth of the sample by inserting the locking knob into the proper hole
    • Fully insert the grease sampler and T-handle into the component until the tee contacts the housing face

For full, step-by-step instructions for taking a grease sample with a grease sampler or using the T-Handle tool, view our technical bulletins or view our demonstration videos below.

How to Take a Grease Sample with a Grease Sampler

How to Take a Grease Sample with a T-Handle

After collecting your sample, apply the bar code sticker to the sample bottle/container, submit your sample information online and ship the sample in to the laboratory nearest you for processing and testing.

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

Published September 17, 2019

Eliminating Costly Equipment Downtime

In the construction industry, we see harsh operating conditions, extreme load variations and high-dollar costs with equipment replacement. That’s why fluid analysis a key to meeting the high demands of your customers – on schedule.

Heavy-Duty Equipment Environments

Construction equipment is often exposed to extreme, uncontrollable environmental factors for long periods of time, yet is still expected to maintain optimal performance levels. Contamination and wear are imminent and can halt production in a heartbeat, when left unchecked.

Condition Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of both the fluid and the unit through fluid analysis identifies wear-causing contaminants and their effect on component performance. Monitoring the condition of coolant along with engine oil creates a clearer picture of what’s occurring in the engine. Sampling frequency should be based on the unit’s criticality to production, as well as the costs involved in replacement or repair.

Read more about our solutions and testing recommendations for the construction industry:

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  June 11, 2019

 

Celebrating 20 Years

As an innovative leader in asset management, reliability and fluid analysis, POLARIS Laboratories® celebrates two decades of accomplishments, successes and innovative solutions we’ve brought to our customers – all while continually saving their equipment.

The beginning

In 1999, we first opened our doors as an oil analysis laboratory, with a mission to provide excellence in oil testing, analysis, tribology expertise, data and recommendations. Our first laboratory was in Greenwood, Indiana and in 2002, we moved to the northwest Indianapolis area and have called that area our home since. In that time, we’ve grown from five to more than 200 employees (in seven global laboratory locations) – who strive every day to meet (and exceed) customer expectations.

20 Years in 5 Minutes

Watch the video to see highlights of our history, accomplishments and our plans for the future.

Our values

Our core values have remained the same throughout our 20 years, with an emphasis to convey to our customers that saving your equipment is more than just sending your sample into our laboratory and getting the results back. What continues to save equipment is customers using the recommendations we provide to take action, establish trend history and effectively manage their maintenance and reliability programs.

What it means

20 years of being the leading fluid analysis provider in the industry has amounted to 48,439 pieces of equipment and $253,575,289 saved for our customers. See below for a quick glance of a few POLARIS Laboratories® stats:

Looking forward

With our eyes on the future, we will continue to focus on providing our customers with the greatest quality of service, accurate and timely analysis results, specialty testing and innovative data integration solutions. We’re expanding our testing and analysis capabilities to include grease, we’re advancing our HORIZON® data management platform and we are increasing adoption of our game-changing solution for sample data automation and integration called DataConnect.

Cheers to 20 more!

View the full press release.

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

Published May 7, 2019

Expose What’s in Your Filters

Oil filters are designed to filter out potential contaminants, but the debris that is caught in the filter can help bridge the gap and tell you what’s really causing wear and tear in your system. Filter debris analysis (FDA) analyzes that debris. It helps identify harmful contaminants and wear-causing particles and mechanisms not detected by traditional oil analysis. FDA is preformed by the following laboratory tests:

  • Analytical Ferrography
  • Micropatch
  • Elemental Metals by ICP
  • Acid Digestion
  • Gravimetric Solids

Watch the video to see how we perform FDA at POLARIS Laboratories®.

1. Analytical Ferrography

  • Identifies particles by metallic or non-metallic and shape and color
  • Analyzes particles through a microscope to determine source of wear particles
  • Digital images of particles are included within the analysis report from the data analyst

2. Micropatch

  • Particles are identified and qualified as contaminates
  • Most particles detected by the micropatch test are too small to be detected through routine testing; therefore often times, micropatch testing is recommended after oil analysis is performed.

Analytical ferrography and micropatch tests are conducted underneath a powerful microscope and are often vital in determining wear particles and contaminates not seen by the human eye and not detected by field oil analysis.

3. Elemental Metals Analysis: Detects particles less than 8-10µ and reports data on 24 elemental metals.

4. Acid Digestion: Identifies large particles accumulated in the filter.

5. Gravimetric Solids: Determines total solids in filter based on mass.

The Next Level

Filter debris analysis takes elemental analysis to the next level to determine particle size and type of wear. FDA also allows you to perform root cause analysis of wear to detect early stages of component failures and in turn, helps extend the life of your components.

Discover more about Analytical Ferrography and Micropatch testing by reading this Technical Bulletin.

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

Published May 2, 2019

A Connected World: Fluid Analysis is No Exception

We live in a connected world. Our daily lives involve hundreds of interactions with data and technology so why should your fluid analysis program be any different? How you submit samples, receive results, manage test data and take action on maintenance recommendations will determine your program’s ROI. In turn, this affects the uptime and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the equipment you operate.

We are all going through a technological revolution, so it is more important than ever to understand how our devices and The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be integral to your fluid analysis program.

One System: Smarter Actions

From a maintenance management perspective, viewing oil analysis results from an individual machine on the same screen as its vibration readings and data from sensors allows the engineer to react quicker to the recommendations, assess the bigger picture and understand that one set of results confirms another. This creates huge efficiencies and results in smarter, more accurate maintenance actions being performed. In turn, it leads to improved uptime, an increase in ROI returns and a reduction in the Total Cost of Ownership of the equipment being monitored.

A Solution

POLARIS Laboratories® has joined the technology revolution and is helping you get there, too. With our integration feature, DataConnect, internal data systems communicate and transfer your sample data and results back and forth on an hourly basis from HORIZON® so your own CMMS or SAP system is accurate, up-to-date and in the correct format at all times.

Part of a Routine

Most CMMS or maintenance management programs are utilized at point of application during daily plant walk-rounds, in sample taking or planned maintenance actions. This means there is a growing requirement to integrate the sample taking procedure into your internally-operated system to reduce the number of applications and processes used.

Your system working in conjunction with the laboratory’s system will enable you to use your own software to submit samples and ensure that the information is as accurate as possible (as with our mobile app) and performing all the duties in a ‘single screen’. Knowing when a sample should be taken and receiving the notification is vital for improving compliance and optimizing your fluid analysis program. In addition, having all of this information in a single program not only adds value to the program, but creates huge efficiencies in daily maintenance and reliability tasks.

 

 

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

Published April 29, 2019

Improving Reliability with Oil Analysis

One of the greatest benefits of effective reliability practices is the impact on the total cost of ownership for equipment. There are many obvious savings, such as increased production, uptime and lower maintenance costs. Unfortunately, once a piece of equipment is out of the design phase, there is a fixed upper limit to the level of reliability that can be achieved without modifying components of the equipment. That doesn’t mean that once you’ve made the investment, you are powerless to do anything to improve reliability. Oil analysis can give you information that may be used to influence OEM designs and your future purchases.

Oil analysis can provide insights to influence decisions

A customer participating in oil analysis has a mixed fleet of on-highway trucks and used the HORIZON® Problem Summary Report to compare their different engine manufacturers. They found that an OEM was showing a high percentage of samples with coolant contamination issues. They reviewed their various models of engines from the OEM and found that one specific model was the biggest culprit, with 15 percent of all samples showing at least the beginning signs of coolant ingression.

The customer provided the engine OEM with the findings from the maintenance observations recorded in their CMMS as well as the data from the problem summary report. The OEM reviewed the data, realized that they had an issue and began investigating the EGR cooler design. The OEM redesigned the EGR cooler which reduced coolant ingression issues to less than 5 percent.

In this example, in addition to oil analysis reducing downtime for the customer, reliability was improved for all users of that engine. Warranty costs for the OEM were reduced and the communication with the customer and subsequent research will also improve future engine design.

Would you rather be in a cycle of warranty claims and repairs or do you change your mindset regarding reliability?

Accepting failures and predictive maintenance as a part of normal operation and having maintenance personnel focused on repairs rather than upkeep will keep you from having a truly reliable operation.

Talk to our experts at POLARIS Laboratories® today to find out how we can help you harness the full potential of your data.

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

Published April 2, 2019

Harsh Environments Halting Production?

Harsh operating conditions, extreme load variations and the high-dollar costs involved in downtime and equipment replacement make fluid analysis a necessary part of doing business in the mining industry. Routine testing identifies small problems before they become major failures allowing you to meet the high demands of your customers on time and on budget.

The heavy-duty equipment required by mining applications is often exposed to extreme, uncontrollable environmental factors for long periods of time, yet is still expected to maintain maximum performance levels. Contamination and wear are imminent and when left unchecked, can halt production in a heartbeat.

Condition Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of both the fluid and the unit through analysis identifies wear-causing contaminants and their effect on component performance. Monitoring the condition of coolant along with engine oil creates a clearer picture of what’s occurring in the engine. Sampling frequency should be based on the unit’s criticality to production, as well as the costs involved in replacement or repair.

  • Is Your Diesel Engine Protected?
    • Routinely monitoring a diesel engine oil’s viscosity, as well as its ability to neutralize acids and disperse and suspend soot particles produced during combustion, can indicate if anti-wear additive and dispersant/detergent levels are providing sufficient engine protection.
  • What’s Wearing on Your Gear Systems/Wheel Motors?
    • Although contamination by dirt and water should be closely monitored in manual/auto transmissions, electric wheel motor bearings, differentials, final drives and planetaries, the biggest concern for these systems is the type of wear occurring.
  • Is Your Hydraulic System Adequate?
    • Hydraulic systems, including automatic powershift transmissions, require the fluid’s viscosity to be low enough to minimize friction loss, yet high enough to prevent fluid leakage and provide satisfactory protection against wear. It should have good oxidation stability to prevent sludge from forming, sufficient water separability and air release properties and resistance to foaming.

Learn how you can reduce the risks of unexpected failure by better protecting your equipment:

Maximize asset reliability and regain control of your production schedules with an effective fluid analysis program and partnership with POLARIS Laboratories®.

It costs so little to protect so much.

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

Published March 12, 2019

Keeping the Coast Clear from Safety Issues

Nothing derails your equipment reliability more than a critical failure or accident whilst in operation. Performing maintenance is a perilous activity, and lack of inadequate processes can also lead to dangerous situations for engineers to work in. Adding maintenance to an already high-risk operation can lead to serious safety issues for your team.

Marine Operational Safety

Failure or unplanned maintenance in the marine industry puts the vessel and crew members at a greater risk. Quickly addressing unplanned problems usually means tasks being rushed and compliant procedures not being followed, in order to complete the task as soon as possible – and to get back on track. One of the largest causes of maintenance-related accidents in the marine industry is unidentified equipment failures – and the required maintenance to fix the issue. So, how can you keep the coast clear from safety issues for your team and identify these failures before they happen? Using lubrication analysis as a reliability tool and taking action on the maintenance recommendations provided on the report can:

  • Resolve unplanned, rushed maintenance
  • Improve equipment reliability
  • Provide a safer operating environment

Go Beyond Your Report

We see many companies utilize oil analysis as part of their condition monitoring program, but not efficiently act on the results and recommendations we provide on the report. Simply reacting to sample reports that show critical results does not improve reliability – because the problem has already occurred.

Vessel operators and fleet managers should look beyond the standard sample report and utilize all of the Data Management Reports and Statistical KPI’s available in HORIZON®. Using the management reports provides an overview of all of the sample data and recommendations provided by the laboratory to be analyzed, allowing operators to plan accordingly, perform maintenance at a safe, suitable time, improved vessel performance and reliability, and ultimately, reduce risk of accidents.

Want to learn more about our solutions for the marine industry? Download our solution sheet:

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

Published March 5, 2019

One-Stop Shop for Maintenance Management

Fluid analysis data is a key component to a successful asset reliability and maintenance tracking program. Do you and your maintenance team feel the frustration of accessing multiple systems just to manage your fluid analysis data and equipment information? Is utilizing multiple systems for program management starting to cause inefficiencies resulting in lost production time for your team? Looking for a one-stop shop for accessing and managing your equipment maintenance that will save you time and money?

The solution: DataConnect

This advanced solution allows all of your HORIZON® sample data to be automatically imported into your internal maintenance tracking program. By doing this, frustration, inconveniences and inefficient practices are eliminated. Organize your equipment data, submit samples and evaluate the testing results – all within one system.

  • Increase visibility
  • React quickly to high severity results
  • Cut maintenance costs
  • Prove the value of fluid analysis to leadership

Contact us for more information on how to set up DataConnect for your fluid analysis program!

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

Published February 26, 2019