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Shipping Samples: How to Avoid Leaking Bottles

leaking-samples

Are you seeing dark spots on your scanned sample paperwork? Was your sample not run because there was not enough fluid? These are both signs your sample may have leaked in transit. Lucky for you, there are a few simple actions you can take to both prevent samples from leaking and improve your testing experience.

The following questions can help you determine the cause of your sample leaks and help you make improvements.

Are you checking to see if your bottle cap is secure before sending?
When samples are filled with a hot fluid and the lid is secured, the bottle will expand from the heat. Once it has cooled, your cap may no longer be tightly secure. Before you place your sample in the mailer, check to see if each lid is tightly closed. This will help prevent both damaged paperwork and fluid loss.

Are you submitting your samples online via HORIZON®?
If you are using a paper copy of the sample submission form to submit your sample, a leaky bottle can spill on the paper, resulting in hard to read paperwork and processing errors. Using online or mobile sample submission can help you avoid this issue and ensure your sample information is readable by the POLARIS Laboratories® team.

Are you only submitting paper forms?
If you choose to submit your samples with a paper form, instead of HORIZON, it is especially important your bottles are cool and caps are secure. This can protect your paperwork from a leak, ensuring your samples are processed efficiently and accurately. When submitting the paper form, be sure to take advantage of the pocket on the outside of the envelope mailer.

Are you properly packing your paperwork?
The most effective way of avoiding a sample leak is by taking the time to properly pack your samples for transit. Be sure to place your paperwork in the pocket on the outside of your envelope mailer. This will help ensure your paperwork is safe and dry should the sample leak. Double check your work and make sure you are carefully writing all information.

Are you unable to read scanned sample paperwork? Seeing spots?
If you are seeing dark spots on your scanned sample paperwork, your sample is most likely leaking in transit. Check with your maintenance team to verify everyone is following proper procedure when shipping samples. This includes: allowing samples to cool and double checking all sample bottle lids are tightly secured. Submitting samples online or storing your paperwork away from the sample, when placed in the mailer, can also help you prevent damaged paperwork and delayed results.

For more information on sample submission, check out my recent blog post on the Dos and Don’ts of Sample Submission.

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How Clean Do Sample Bottles Need to Be?

There are a wide range of opinions regarding how clean an oil analysis sample bottle needs to be. While it is a fact that most oil testing equipment is sensitive enough to detect the difference between using ISO “Clean” (100 particles greater than 10 microns per milliliter), “Superclean” (10 particles), and “Ultraclean” (1 particle) bottles, the only reason to use a more expensive Superclean or Ultraclean bottle would be if the additional particles would change the maintenance recommendations.

Instead of focusing on the tests and ISO charts, efforts should be put towards figuring out the cleanliness target for each piece of equipment. Any level of cleanliness is attainable, but the particle cleanliness level should be balanced with the maintenance cost of sustaining that cleanliness. Keeping the inside of equipment clean is a long-term investment, and it’s up to you to determine where the right place to invest is.

For example, a hydraulic system sitting in a clean room with light use could easily achieve a 16/14/10 ISO cleanliness rating. Investing time and money to test the oil and then filter the sump as needed could yield significant equipment life extension. In this case, an ISO Superclean bottle might be appropriate to use because an additional 100 particles/milliliter using a “Clean” bottle has the potential to trigger an unnecessary service event.

Alternately, it would take a comparable fortune to maintain a 16/14/10 rating if that same hydraulic system was in a room surrounded by rock crushers. It would be a challenge not to contaminate a -Superclean sample jar simply by opening it in that dusty of a room. In this instance, a Clean sample bottle may be a more appropriate choice depending on your needs for equipment uptime, expected lifecycle, and maintenance costs. If samples need to be collected in locations with high environmental contamination, you might consider an alternative solution, such as relocating the sample point outside the dusty environment.

Some oil analysis users even consider using Ultraclean jars on occasion. While these yield some impressively consistent, valuable results, the need for this level of bottle cleanliness is simply beyond even high-performing maintenance programs. Outside of a research application, few would realize a benefit due to the difficulty in preventing particulate contamination when collecting samples. Aside from being exorbitantly expensive, they are frequently made of glass which can be a hazard.

It’s important to collect oil samples in a clean container, but using Superclean and Ultraclean containers may raise expenses without seeing much gain. The average maintenance program will see the most benefit from using ISO Clean jars if they are running particulate and cleanliness testing based on experience, but if you have questions about the containers you are using I’m available at ablack@polarislabs.com to help you find the best solution for your program.

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