POLARIS Laboratories’ Houston Texas Laboratory is Moving!

Our laboratory facility in Houston, Texas is moving to a larger space and opening March 25

As we continue to grow, we need additional space to develop and maintain our lean processes, expand our available laboratory testing services, and reduce our sample turnaround times – all in an effort to better serve our customers. As your dedicated fluid analysis laboratory, we will provide the same quality testing and results in this new location.

Below are a few important things to note, along with significant dates:

  • No Service Interruptions – There will be no closures or delays in processing, testing and analyzing samples
  • Non-Houston Locations – Shipments to non-Houston laboratories will not be affected
  • Sample Labels – Product orders for sample information forms will display the new address starting March 1
  • Shipments to New Address – Customers can begin sending samples to the new address on March 18
  • Move Date – New laboratory location opens for processing and testing samples on March 25
  • Seamless Transition – Any samples sent to our previous Houston address will arrive at the new location seamlessly starting March 25

More communication on the new laboratory address will be released soon. We thank you for choosing us as your fluid analysis laboratory and your partner on your journey to optimizing equipment reliability.

Published Monday, February 26, 2024

Analysis Keeps Compressor Components in Top Shape

Seeing Proven Savings: One Report at a Time

Fluid analysis is a powerful tool in the preventive maintenance toolbox of many equipment and maintenance managers in industries ranging from construction to aggregates to mining to marine. Efficiently managed programs provide considerable benefits that translate directly into maintenance cost savings for industries who rely on the operation of their equipment.

When operating equipment, it’s inevitable to see some wear as the machine operates overtime. One of the most valuable advantages of fluid analysis is detecting early signs of wear within equipment by analyzing wear particles within the oil.

Saving $80,000 in Engine Replacement Cost

One of POLARIS Laboratories® customers in the Marine industry was able to save the entire replacement of an engine by performing recommended actions on a high severity lubricant analysis sample report. After collecting an oil sample during a break in the oil change schedule, the company’s sample report returned at a high severity. The recommended maintenance action based on the test results and interpretation was to borescope the cylinders, in which the team observed scoring on the cylinder liners.

Report showing high levels of iron with a recommendation to check cylinders

While continuing to investigate the concern, it was observed that the bottom of the engine piston crown showed signs of deterioration. After discovering this, a strategic maintenance decision was made to replace all six pistons, liners and connecting rods.

As the company shares this story with POLARIS Laboratories®, it was noted that there were no other condition monitoring indications or alarms that showed there was an engine issue – the concern was only identified based on the test results and recommendations on the lubricant analysis sample report. Without the sample report indicating abnormal wear and suggestion to evaluate the cylinders, the problem would not have been identified and would have led to a total engine loss and $80,000.

Avoiding Lost Production, Downtime and $260,000+ in Engine Loss

For a POLARIS Laboratories® customer in the Aggregates industry, equipment downtime can be detrimental to production, customer satisfaction, labor costs and operations. The company had coolant analysis report came back indicating a high freeze point which, if not addressed, would have caused the engine block to freeze resulting in a complete engine replacement of $135,000 (this does not include the downtime if the asset was out of production for repairs).

In another instance, the company was able to avoid a full axle rebuild that would have cost $50,000 by addressing a simple issue and replacing the oil after a lubricant analysis report came back with results indicating a leak in the axle which had resulted in dirt contamination causing wear.

Report showing high levels of sodium with a recommendation to check cooling system for leaks

A very recent equipment save through oil analysis for the company involved receiving a report back that indicated high levels of lead. The team was able to proactively replace the NRS coolers before the engine could experience failure – a failure that would have cost the company $75,000 to repair, plus the additional downtime loss.

Fluid analysis is a proactive, preventive, predictive and cost-effective condition monitoring tool proven to minimize unexpected and un-budgeted maintenance costs by detecting signs of early wear and contamination. Through interpreting test results and maintenance recommendations provided by the data analysts, maintenance and equipment managers can take action before failure even has a chance.

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.

Let us prove it to you.

Published November 14, 2023

Revolutionized Maintenance Training at INTEGRATE

Where can you find education and training designed to give you the tools you need to see success along your reliability journey?

The answer: at the 2023 Reliability Summit | INTEGRATE. 

We’ve revolutionized our annual maintenance training conference to provide all-encompassing training on every aspect of your fluid analysis program. From expanding your use of the HORIZON® platform, to understanding how to grow your program, learning how sampling can be made easier, to increasing understanding of result interpretation, to eliminating silos by integrating fluid analysis data into your maintenance management system, INTEGRATE is the one place you need to be.

View this year’s line up of speakers and learning sessions

In one trip to Indianapolis in October, you and your maintenance teams can gain new ideas, insights and knowledge to kick your maintenance into high gear and see your reliability program reap the benefits of effective, impactful fluid analysis.

Gain New Perspectives

Not only will you gain education, but you’ll also gain new perspectives. During this 2-day exclusive event, hosted by POLARIS Laboratories® at The Alexander in Indianapolis, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Meet one-on-one with your account representative
  • Ask subject matter experts your questions
  • Learn what others are doing to improve their reliability program
  • Network with fellow maintenance professionals to learn and grow from their experiences

See Operations in Action

When you attend INTEGRATE, you get more than education through learning sessions, you get a first-hand look at not one, but two facilities through exclusive tours – and a chance to see inside POLARIS Laboratories’ headquarters laboratory in Indianapolis.

Cummins Augmented & Virtual Environmental Lab

Experience a tour of Cummins technical center and environmental lab and see what Cummins engineers and scientists are creating, testing and evaluating to prepare for the future of manufacturing. See processes and devices, including 3D printers, tomography x-ray systems and Cummins’ use of virtual reality.

 

U.S. Aggregates Facility & Mine Tour 

Get a glimpse of U.S Aggregates’ 460-acre facility and see a glimpse into their mining operations. See how U.S. Aggregates mines and processes limestone, while getting a first-hand look and feel of a raw material reduction with the use of explosives.

 

POLARIS Laboratories® 

This tour gives you a first-hand look inside our state-of-the art laboratory and headquarters facility in Indianapolis. From the time your sample hits the facility doors, to laboratory testing, to data analysis and customer support, and everything in between, this tour gives you an exclusive look into our laboratory daily operations.

These tours have limited spots, first come first served – register early if you want a seat on the tour. See the available tours and information here.

Discover New Solutions

Our annual training conference would not be possible without our event sponsors. We’ve teamed up with several industry solutions providers (lube manufacturers, filter solutions, sampling supplies, data integration) to give you tools to advance your programs and expand your maintenance practices. Each sponsor will have an exhibitor booth at the conference as well. Please feel free to stop by their booths to see what they have to offer your program!

It’s All Here in Indianapolis

I’ll leave you with this question, where else can you find lube manufacturers, OEMs, testing experts, reliability professionals, integration solution providers and everyone in between? At INTEGRATE October 2-4 in Indianapolis.

From the Data Analyst: How Sample Information Affects Limits and Analysis

Two questions our Data Analysis team often receives from fluid analysis customers are “What information is necessary to analyze our samples?” and “Why is this information so important?”

Whether your sample is defined as a grease, diesel fuel, lubricant or coolant, there are complex interpretation factors accounted for each test result of the respective application. Aside from establishing the appropriate testing slate applied to a fluid, test limits may also vary and be comprised of SAE, ISO, POLARIS Laboratories®, OEM, industry charter and/or fluid manufacturer standards. Due to these reasons, it is imperative to supply as much relevant equipment and fluid information as accessible to your laboratory when submitting the sample for testing.

Here are a few scenarios… Without fluid information, a laboratory may not be able to see abnormal fluctuations for additive content or viscosity. The fluid’s basicity may become essentially depleted prior to detection, or the acidic levels may be too high for neutralization efforts. Without the specific equipment model, a laboratory may have to rely on generic data points to extrapolate typical wear accumulation. These limits may be too aggressive or not aggressive enough for the type of equipment tested. These are all exact scenarios we have previously experienced with customers.

For example, we may factor the following information when establishing statistical trends for wear metal content, lubricant properties and interpreted recommendations:

  • Equipment Type (e.g. engine)
  • Specific Application (e.g. diesel)
  • Equipment Manufacturer (e.g. Cummins)
  • Equipment Model (e.g. ISX)
  • Industry Type (e.g. logistics/transportation)
  • Lubricant Manufacturer (e.g. Chevron)
  • Lubricant Product (e.g. Delo 600 ADF)
  • Lubricant Viscosity (e.g. 15W40)
  • Filter Type (e.g. Full Flow)
  • Filter Micron Rating (e.g. 10 micron)
  • Sump Capacity (e.g. 14 gallon)
  • Time on Lubricant (e.g. 13,598 miles)
  • Time on Equipment (e.g. 124,600 miles)

While some equipment manufacturers have a ‘fixed’ wear limit table for operational guidelines, laboratories typically provide a more objective and literal statistical significance of normal wear accumulation. These statistics may reduce unnecessary calls for maintenance, which would otherwise lead to costly downtime or premature use of materials.

Read more in the Technical Bulletin

If you are unsure what information may be required to appropriately identify abnormal trends for your equipment samples, reach out to the laboratory for a list of the requisites and additional guidance. To receive an improved return on investment out of a lubricant, fuel, or coolant maintenance program, avoid delays or guesswork the laboratory may experience due to absent sample information.

Sampling Devices: Find the Right One for Your Program

Sampling devices are used to pull samples of lubricant, coolant or fuel out of system components. There is a range of sampling devices to fulfill specific needs, but they can be grouped into two basic categories – 1) vacuum pumps and 2) installed sampling devices.

Vacuum Pumps

vacuum pump

Vacuum pumps pull fluid from a component’s reservoir. Disposable tubing is fed through the pump and into a sample jar screwed onto the pump. The other end of the tubing is used to reach into the component’s reservoir. The vacuum from the pump pulls fluid out of the reservoir and into the sample jar without contacting the pump itself. Oil residue in the tubing would contaminate future samples, so it must be thrown away. The pump itself never touched the fluid and can be reused without cleaning.

Installed Sampling Devices

Commonly referred to as “valves,” small sampling devices are installed on components to create a permanent, easily accessible port for drawing samples. Using valves to pull fluid is typically faster than using vacuum pumps alone. The valves also minimize the chances of environmental contamination entering the sample or the fluid system. These permanent devices collect the most representative samples possible in the least amount of time. The two most common types differ based on if the system is pressurized or not.

Push Button (4-100 PSI) – Pushing a button on the device opens the port. The pressure from the system pushes fluid through the port and into an open sample jar held below the valve.

push button valve

Push Pin (4-1000 PSI) – Inserting a “pin” or “needle” into the device opens the port. System pressure or a vacuum pump moves fluid through tubing attached to the pin. A cap is screwed onto the sample jar to secure the other end of the tube when a vacuum pump isn’t used. The pin, tubing and cap cannot be easily cleaned and must be thrown away.

push pin valve

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installed Sampling Devices Save Time And Money

One vacuum pump can draw samples from multiple components, but it pulls samples slower than an installed sampling device. Generally, the reduced sampling time pays for the device and its installation after five samples.

So what are you waiting for? Order your sampling devices (i.e. Push Button or Push Pin) via the HORIZON Store, install them as soon as possible to start saving even more money with your fluid analysis 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 March 16, 2023

Diesel Fuel Analysis: Importance of Fuel Type

When submitting a diesel fuel sample for laboratory testing and analysis, it can be easy to assume that all diesel fuel is essentially the same and that it is not important to identify its grade. However, failure to do so can result in inaccurate test results and unnecessary alerts due to differences in the grades of the diesel fuel.

Distinguishing Diesel Fuel Types

According to ASTM D0975-22a, “Standard Specification for Diesel fuel,” the major types of diesel fuel are #1 and #2, with three grades each depending on the amount of sulfur present. Diesel fuel #2 the most common and is a general purpose fuel with a wide variety of applications. In the absence of special conditions, this is generally the most applicable fuel to use as it is cost-effective and offers better fuel mileage vs diesel fuel #1. Diesel fuel #1 is a special purpose fuel with a lower volatility that can withstand a lower temperature before gelling. This can be useful in lower temperatures and it can be used to make winter diesel blends.

In addition, both types of fuel are split into three grades each based on parts per million of sulfur content.

  1. S5000 (sometimes called high sulfur fuel) contains a maximum of 5000 ppm of sulfur
  2. S500 (sometimes called low sulfur fuel) contains a maximum of 500 ppm
  3. S15 (sometimes called ultra low sulfur fuel or ULSDF) contains a maximum of 15p pm of sulfur
    1. Learn more about verifying ppm specs in ultra low sulfur diesel fuel here

Differences in Diesel Fuel Testing

The differences between #1 and #2 diesel fuel can be seen in several laboratory tests. In particular, diesel fuel #1 will have lower results for Viscosity, Cloud Point, Pour Point and Distillation in relation to diesel fuel #2. Correctly identifying the fuel type will ensure that the analysis results are compared to the correct standards during analysis. This will help to determine if the fuel conforms to its specification, remove potential false alarms and ensure that the reported condition of the fuel is accurate.

Download our Complete Testing List here for more information on fuel testing offered by POLARIS Laboratories®

You can read more on the effects of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel on viscosity in our Technical Bulletin here

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.

Let us prove it to you.

Published March 10, 2023

Coolant Condition Monitoring: Comparing Testing

Include Cooling Systems in Regular Maintenance

Coolant testing is an important aspect of maintaining the cooling system. Part of your normal maintenance schedule should include inspecting the cooling system at every maintenance interval. During operation, the cooling system must 1) circulate coolant, 2) transfer heat away from the engine and 3) dissipate the heat through the radiator to the atmosphere before circulating back through the engine again. These three functions must occur efficiently to maintain the proper operating temperature. If the lubricant is showing increased wear, increase in viscosity and or oxidation, the cooling system should be tested. Cooling system health effects how well the equipment will operate and ensures the ability for the fluids in the system to protect the equipment metals from damage.

To verify the coolant properties are adequate, testing becomes a critical part of system maintenance. Field testing conducted on-site should be a used as a screening tool to determine if laboratory testing is required earlier than scheduled. Laboratory testing is a critical part of any fluid analysis program in addition to field testing.

Field Testing & Laboratory Testing

Field testing includes monitoring visual characteristics of the coolant using test strips to determine corrosion protection levels, pH and or freeze point. A handheld refractometer for testing glycol percent is another useful tool. Some limitations with field testing include: coolant with a normal appearance could be misleading, low precision and limited scope of testing. Most laboratory testing will report results in parts per million and detect various materials smaller than the eye can see. Laboratory testing can be used to determine the validity of concerns with corrosion of system metals, hard water contamination, early degradation breakdown of the glycol and other chemical properties. Laboratory testing is typically recommended to be conducted twice a year for normal use engines (Spring & Fall) and every quarter for high-hour or extreme duty engines.

There’s more to coolant analysis than testing coolant formulations – it’s about identifying problems within the cooling system that can be detrimental to engine performance and lead to premature engine failure. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of using coolant test strips and laboratory testing.

 

 

 

 

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.

Let us prove it to you.

Published February 9, 2023

Sulfur Content in Diesel Fuel: Limits and Regulations

EPA Regulations and The Clean Air Act

Since the 1990s, diesel fuel quality has been an essential topic of discussion due to the increased regulations that the U.S. EPA has implemented over the years as a result of the Clean Air Act (CAA). One of the main goals of this Act was to set and achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in every state. The 1990 CAA amendments were later revised to include the issuance of technology-based standards that require the maximum degree of reduction of emissions of hazardous air pollutants. New regulations meant engine manufacturers and diesel fuel producers would have to work together to determine how to meet the new standards best.

Effects of Emission Regulations on Diesel Fuel

The most easily attainable and regulated fuel property that the EPA regulated in the 90’s was sulfur content. Historically, ASTM standards have limited sulfur content to .5% (wt.). A few years later, in October 1993, a limit for Low Sulfur diesel fuel was introduced as 500 ppm = 0.05% (wt.) to facilitate the particulate sulfate reductions to meet the emissions standards.

Fast forward to June 2006, the maximum sulfur level in the U.S. was reduced to 15 ppm (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) for on road (highway) diesel engines and fuel supplies and was subsequently adopted by all nonroad, locomotive and marine (NRLM) diesel fuel and equipment in 2014. In addition, the regulations prompted engine manufacturers to deploy catalyst-based emission control devices, such as NOx absorbers and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), to meet new diesel emission tier standards.

Sulfur emission reduction has also been an important subject for the maritime industry. In 2010, marine standards that were previously exempt were further reduced from previous levels to 1,000 ppm within the Sulfur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) for North America and the U.S. Caribbean Sea. In January 2020, new international rules put forth under the International Maritime Organization also reduced the global sulfur limit (outside SECAs) in marine fuels to 0.5% or 5000 ppm (down from 3.5%), and the change is expected to have a ripple effect throughout the fuel industry.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has noted that the change in sulfur limits has wide-ranging repercussions for the global refining and shipping industries, as well as petroleum supply, demand, trade flows and prices. From market disruptions from the COVID pandemic and today’s economic pressures on buying and selling bulk diesel fuel to meet demands, monitoring the sulfur content of your diesel fuel is still important decades after emission standards were implemented.

Reducing sulfur content in diesel fuel has placed a new demand on diesel engines and emission control systems in operation today. Factoring in the aging and foreign fuel supplies in circulation and storage, along with the ever-changing regulations means ensuring that equipment fuel supplies meet the required specifications is now necessary.

Check out our recommended testing for diesel fuels here.

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

Published February 3, 2023

Impact of Cold Temperatures on Your Cooling System

Coolant analysis can shed light on developing internal problems and catch concerns early before harmful problems can occur. Making the proper adjustments, when needed, is critical for maintaining proper cooling system performance.

How do Temperatures Affect Coolant?

When outside temperatures drop, proper freeze protection is required to avoid freezing or lack of coolant flow within the cooling system. When coolant freezes, it is most likely due to improper water-to-glycol ratio in the cooling system. Freezing can cause cracking and damage to the engine block and/or cooler allowing coolant and lubricant to mix. Once lubricant and coolant mix, further damage to the asset will occur leading to an expensive unexpected repair.

Finding the Proper Glycol Mixture

The proper glycol mixture with the water is crucial. Testing and maintaining the proper dilution provides a lower freeze protection, while also maintaining proper coolant properties. Water by itself has a freeze point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Using only water or too much water dilution will lower other coolant protection properties and can lead to system corrosion and lower than desirable pH control. However, too much glycol can cause the coolant to become too viscous, slow down coolant flow within the system and an over-saturation of corrosion inhibitors resulting in a precipitation concern. Plugging and/or inadequate coolant flow will impact proper protection for the cooling system and increase the time needed for the engine to reach proper operating temperatures. Lubricant not reaching proper temperatures allows for more metal-to-metal contact and engine wear concerns.

Routinely Test Your Cooling System to Avoid Problems

Overall, roughly 40% or so of preventable engine failures occur due to the cooling system not functioning properly. Most concerns in the cooling system are created by improper maintenance of the cooling system and coolant in service. Coolant chemistry reactions occur due to mechanical issues, coolant properties not being maintained and/or contamination of the system.

Learn more and find answers to your coolant testing and analysis questions here.

A proper fluid analysis program should include testing all fluids in the asset to have a better understanding of the fluid and equipment health. With trend analysis, you can catch concerns easier and faster and be able to take action on the proper recommendations to identify and address the issue before you have expensive, unexpected equipment downtime.

Winter temperatures should not keep your equipment out of service. Reach out today and pull a coolant sample to take out the guesswork out of knowing if the coolant in the system meets requirements for properly protecting your cooling system.

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

Published January 10, 2023