Your Guide to the HORIZON® Technical Library

There are many helpful resources, videos, technical bulletins, position papers and reports to run in the HORIZON® Technical Library that it can be hard to know where to start. So, where do you start? Well, it depends on your role in your fluid analysis program.

  1. Are you a technician pulling samples?
    • You need practical information to collect the most accurate fluid samples
  2. Are you submitting and shipping the samples?
    • You need to know the ways to get those samples submitted and shipped as soon as possible
  3. Are you a maintenance supervisor?
    • You need to know what maintenance needs to be done immediately, what can wait for tomorrow and what samples need to be pulled so you can stay ahead of the breakdown
  4. Are you a site or operations manager?
    • You need daily, weekly, monthly,and quarterly reports sent to you automatically
  5. Are you a program manager or executive?
    • You need reports to see your program as a whole as well as resources to integrate your sample data into the systems you’re already using

We’ve put together a quick guide to understanding where you need to be within the Technical Library to get the most out of what resources are there:

Using the Technical Library

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Published April 15, 2021

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.

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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

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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.

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Published March 3, 2021

Pathway to Reliable Greased Components

Receive More In-Depth Info + Achieve Reliability in Your Grease

All grease samples received after March 1, 2021 will receive one of our Grease Reliability Test Packages. If you have not already received the new testing under our Grease Reliability Testing Program, your next grease sample will reflect a change in testing performed. We are now able to provide new and improved testing for grease that our previous testing was limited to. Performing testing within our Grease Reliability Testing program will ensure your grease sample receives industry-wide testing and provides more detailed recommendations when concerns are present.

The Grease Reliability Testing Program provides three testing options:

  1. Basic Grease Testing
  2. Ferrous Wear Identification
  3. Advanced Grease Testing

Our new Technical Bulletin, linked below, will provide further details of what is included in each of these grease test packages available under the Grease Reliability Testing program.

Grease Reliability Testing

How this change will impact my current test kits?
All current programs with grease testing will be moved to our new program automatically. If you program still has outdated testing kits, your grease samples will automatically receive the Basic Grease Testing.

Time to order new sample kits? Customer service or your account manager can advise which of our three grease tests will be best for your needs.

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Published March 1, 2021

Determining Degradation in Your Fuel

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

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

What Is Diesel Fuel Degradation?

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

How to Avoid Diesel Fuel Degradation?

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

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

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

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

Verify Fuel Specs with ULSDF Testing

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Published February 16, 2021

Monitor Biodiesel Content with FAME Testing

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

Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME)

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

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

What is FAME?

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

Types of FAME

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

Why is BioDiesel Dilution Problematic?

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

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

Biodiesel Testing Ensures Quality, Detects Potential Filter Plugging Problems

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Published February 4, 2021

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.

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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

 

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Published October 13, 2020

Elemental Analysis Testing: Add it to Your Engine Coolant Report

Is Elemental Analysis Testing Included in Your Engine Coolant Report?

Do you get a physical every year? How about a routine blood test? Elemental Analysis is similar to having your blood drawn for a yearly physical. Just as the bloodwork will provide more details to your physician on how your body is functioning, the elemental analysis testing will provide more details on the equipment’s overall system health. If elemental analysis testing isn’t included in your routine fluid analysis, information regarding corrosion/wear, contamination and certain fluid properties will not be able to be monitored. Cooling system concerns are a leading factor to how well the equipment effectively can perform. Adding elemental analysis testing will identify corrosion, mechanical issues, contamination and other possible fluid properties in the sample.

With majority of engine failures traced back to cooling system, predominantly due to overheating events, proper coolant analysis testing should be performed on all samples. When proper testing is not included, the missing information will hinder the laboratory’s maintenance recommendations as the possible root cause for concerns may not be identified. Ultimately, not identifying the root cause will lead to higher downtimes and engine failures.

How to Add Elemental Analysis

Reach out today to review if your fluid analysis program includes the proper testing that will best benefit your program. Including elemental analysis testing within your program will help identify if concerns are present in the cooling system. When specific issues are identified correction can be performed to reduce further potential damage to the equipment. Elemental analysis testing should be included on all samples submitted to the laboratory as this testing will provide critical information regarding the equipment’s overall system health. Catching early system concerns and performing proper corrections will assist with maintaining proper cooling system function reducing unexpected downtimes and engine failures.

Check out our Technical Bulletin to find out more information on the Benefits of Elemental Analysis Testing on Engine Coolants. 

Download the Technical Bulletin

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Published October 8, 2020