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 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

 

The Key to Unlocking Reliability in Your Program

Everyday at POLARIS Laboratories®, we’re dedicated to helping our customers save more of their equipment. As the industry has advanced, POLARIS Laboratories® has kept up by unleashing the potential for maintenance programs everywhere. We’re achieving these results by empowering maintenance professionals, automating the information they receive and transforming untapped recommendations into business intelligence.

This Year’s Summit

We’re all on this journey together. And, we see this path leading us to greater emphasis on reliability. We know reliability is the key to solving maintenance challenges smarter and faster. That’s why this year’s Customer Summit theme is Unlock Reliability. This unique, peer-to-peer experience is designed to help your company capture and apply the elements of a successful oil analysis program, integrate data better and solve reliability challenges.

As part of the evolution of fluid analysis at our summits – Driving Action, Champion Impact, Connected Performance and Elevate – Unlock Reliability keeps our customers focused on how to turn data into information into intelligence. At the summit, more than 100 customers and partners will convene to learn how to bridge a traditional fluid analysis focus with a futuristic view of empowering the overall user experience and manage more effective maintenance programs.

Unlock Your Maintenance Potential

Whether you’re looking to huddle with companies that have proven successes, dive deeper into your program’s performance or learn best practices to design a strategy that transforms information into intelligence, our fifth-annual Customer Summit will provide the keys you need to maximize your oil analysis program and continue to drive operational performance.

We have coordinated every aspect of this event to best fit your team’s needs and ensure that you make the most out of your summit experience. Taking place in Indianapolis from November 18-20, this three-day, 19-session event offers a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your team.

Are you ready to take the next step to realizing reliability?

Check out our Customer Summit website to learn more about the robust agenda and topics, exclusive laboratory tour, hotel accommodations, fees and more. Be sure to take advantage of our early registration discounts.

Come learn why reliability matters! Clear your calendar in November and join us in Indianapolis at the 2019 POLARIS Laboratories® Customer Summit.

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

Published May 23, 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

5 Reasons You Need to be Testing Your Coolant

40 to 50 percent of preventable premature engine failures can be traced back to problems in the cooling system

The majority of those failures are due to issues in the cooling system that can be identified early with coolant sampling

The Importance of Adding Coolant Testing into Your Program

Have you lost an engine and wish you could have caught the problem before the point of no return? Or better yet, what if you could determine the root cause all together? Adding coolant testing to your existing program can do exactly that.

Only monitoring the lubricant provides a limited view of a much bigger picture.

Research has found that when physicians take a whole body approach, their patients heal faster, have a higher success rate, and have a more favorable response to a prescribed medication or therapy. In thinking about our equipment, we should take a similar approach. If you are not testing your coolant, you are ignoring half the patient and half the problems.

As engine metallurgy and design have become more advanced and the demand for increased fuel efficiency and emission’s, engine operating temperatures have increased more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. This puts a greater emphasis on maintaining the thermal loads placed on the modern cooling systems.

Some common issues that can be detected and addressed with coolant testing include:

1. Identifying incorrect glycol concentration

There are many causes for the glycol concentration to not be at the proper ratio. Some of the common causes include system top offs with water or coolant concentrate, loss of water due to boil off from a defective pressure cap, and/or flush water left in the system. When glycol concentration is not at the proper ratio per OEM specification problems occur including coolant and engine block freezing, seal damage, and/or overheating. This reduces the life of the lubricant and may cause premature engine failure.

2. Are your pH levels out of specification?

Monitoring the coolant pH levels will indicate early concerns within the cooling system. An engine coolant’s acceptable pH level varies depending upon the coolant formulation. Issues that may arise when pH is out of specification include corrosion of iron components and other metals which often results in pitting of engine liners. Also, corrosives will attack the EGR coolers, or any other cooler in the system. The problem is exacerbated when corrosion protection inhibitors drop out of solution which causes plugging and inadequate coolant flow. When coolant cannot properly circulate, heat cannot be removed efficiently from the engine and the lubricant degrades more quickly resulting in shorter drain intervals.

3. Inadequate corrosion protection inhibitors

The purpose of corrosion protection inhibitors are to maintain pH, prevent foaming and prevent internal metal surfaces from corroding. When corrosion exists in the cooling system heat will not be efficiently removed. Additionally, a corrosive environment will attack most solder joints causing holes and leaks in the system. These leaks will in themselves cause secondary issues including internal coolant boiling, contamination, and adverse chemical reactions.

4. Find sources of contamination

There are many possible sources of contamination which cause damage to the cooling system and ultimately the engine. For our purposes, we will focus on the most preventable source: water, which is used to dilute coolant concentrate or top-off the system. Using water that does not meet ASTM and/or OEM manufacturer’s specifications will increase scale formation and corrosion potential within the cooling system. Even ‘clean’ tap water may contain magnesium, calcium, sulfate or chloride in levels that are harmful for the equipment. Scale forms where the greatest amount of heat transfer is needed and acts as an insulator resulting in overheating and engine damage.

If you want to learn more about adding water to your cooling system, check out our video here.

5. Detect early failure

Coolant testing can indicate combustion gas leaks, air leaks, glycol degradation, electrical issues and contaminants. Each issue will cause chemical reactions within the cooling system, resulting in failure. With early detection, scheduled down time for repairs can be made. Correcting the issue will help prevent complete engine failure or unexpected downtime.

Corrosion occurs at a slower rate than engine wear. This is why engine failures occur more frequently but are often traced back to issues within the cooling system. The cooling system must be able to circulate coolant, remove heat from the system and dissipate the heat in order to function correctly. When the cooling system is not able to circulate or remove the heat effectively, we will see reduced life of the lubricant, increased engine wear, and/or issues with system components, which often result in premature engine failure.

Test all fluids in your equipment!

Testing all fluids within the equipment by utilizing an effective fluid analysis program will help reduce unexpected down times and/or equipment replacements – resulting in an increase return of investment (ROI).

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

Published April 16, 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

Stay Up-To-Date on HORIZON® Features

What’s New

At POLARIS Laboratories®, we strive to continue to provide our customers with advancements and improvements to our data management platforms – to make it easier to manage data. In the past few months, we’ve released a number of updates to the HORIZON® data management website, mobile application and our DataConnect integration feature.

HORIZON Updates

  • Users are now able to transfer components from different accounts in the HORIZON mobile app
  • Starting on April 1, there will be a minimum version requirement for the mobile app
    • To avoid difficulties with using the app, please update to the latest version

DataConnect Updates

To further integrate automation with asset management and maintenance systems, an update to our our DataConnect service will soon include the ability to add, update, and transfer your equipment data. This update is currently in testing and expected to be released soon. If you are interested in learning more about this feature, please contact us.

 

Download or update your HORIZON app below:

     

 

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

Published March 26, 2019

Protect Your Investment, Protect Your Grease

Grease: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Most lubrication fundamentals are fairly well understood in this day and age. There are plenty of websites with documentation on topics ranging through a variety of lubricating systems and analysis. There are even a lot of manufacturers, laboratories and literature on the key points and fundamentals of the variety of other fluids used today, such as fuels, solvents and even coolants.

However, one area that is still shrouded in mystery to most: Grease.

Grease: A History

A semi-solid lubricant, grease generally it consists of a soap, emulsified with an oil, (though clays are used in place of the soap in some extreme temperature applications). Some of the first recorded applications were used by the Egyptians and the Romans, thousands of years ago, though modern greases really came about during World War II.

Manufacturing Complications

In the recent years, the manufacture of greases has been described as an art. The processes is very complicated and requires:

  • High temperatures and pressures
  • Oil charges added at specific times and flow
  • Accurate application – if not, the grease will fail and turn into slop

The tests designed to qualify the greases from the production environment were designed many decades ago and mainly designed to ensure quality during manufacturing. They were not designed to qualify greases, in the most part, for use in the field.

Grease Formulations

To make matters more complicated, most literature from OEM’s specify a NLGI grade, a soap type and if you are really lucky, a base oil viscosity requirement. Grease manufacturers have made a huge number of formulations and in many cases, these three parameters may be identical, yet the actual formulations could be significantly different and in fact incompatible with each other. Not all greases are compatible. Even greases of the same soap composition may be incompatible with each other, resulting in a complete loss of lubrication in the component.

Grease Sampling

The next issue is related to sampling. The process of lubrication utilized in a greased system is different compared to a similar oil-lubricated system. Grease is designed to release the lubricating oil charge with the soap holding it into the area where the lubrication is required. As a result, the grease in the compartment will most likely be extremely non-homogeneous. If the grease is sampled from the outer surface or from the corners of the system may not been representative of the grease next to the area being lubricated. Taking a representative sample that will provide a valuable maintenance recommendation is a really challenging activity. There are some excellent resources available to combat this issue, I suggest reading the ASTM D7718 Practice for Obtaining In-Service Samples of Lubricating Grease.

Grease Testing

The final step of conventional condition monitoring and equipment maintenance is normally testing of the fluid. As noted above, a number of conventional grease tests, are designed to qualify grease manufacture. These tests, such as penetration and dropping point, may not give any significant information for reliability purposes. This may seem of great concern to most, but in-service grease testing is an area where most current research is focuses on.

Why Test Your Grease?

Grease is rather complicated compared to conventional lubricating system’s condition monitoring systems. You might ask, why bother? Really, it comes down to cost. Grease is generally more expensive than the equivalent lubricant, sometimes by a factor of 10 or more. In addition, a large number of grease systems are designed to last a much longer periods between re-greasing compared to some conventional oil lubrication systems. As a result there is a real financial gain to be found from obtaining effective maintenance reliability recommendations.

POLARIS Laboratories® will be adding grease to our fluid analysis capabilities in the coming months. Stay tuned!

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

Published March 21, 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