Archive | November, 2006


6:00 am
November 1, 2006
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LMT News


Baldor Electric Company (Fort Smith,AR) has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Reliance Electric Company (Greenville, SC) and certain of its affiliated companies (the “Power Systems business”) of Rockwell Automation, Inc. Rockwell had put Reliance (which markets its products under the Reliance Electric® and Dodge® brand names) up for sale last summer.

Baldor will purchase 100% of the equity interest in the Power Systems business for $1.8 billion, comprised of $1.75 billion in cash and approximately 1.6 million shares of Baldor common stock, with a market value of $50 million, based on Baldor’s volume weighted average stock price over the prior ten trading days.The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007 and is subject to customary closing conditions and necessary regulatory approvals. Going forward, the combined company will be one of the leading North American manufacturers of industrial electric motors and power transmission products.

According to John McFarland, Chairman and CEO of Baldor, the Reliance and Dodge businesses are a great fit with his company’s existing operations. “The Power Systems business will complement and add strength to Baldor’s product line,”he notes.”It, like Baldor,provides the best industrial products available in the marketplace and sells them to value-minded customers. Dodge products have been available for over 125 years, Reliance motors for over 100 years and Baldor motors for over 85 years. These companies have a long history of customer preference and good profitability. Baldor,Dodge and Reliance have strong reputations in the industrial marketplace. This is a unique opportunity to build a stronger company for our customers, our employees and our shareholders.”


KAYDON® Bearings Division, a leading global designer and manufacturer of standard and custom bearings, announced it would expand its second Sumter, SC facility, known as Plant 12, with an investment in excess of $18.5 million. The move is expected to create 50 new jobs in Sumter County. The company had announced plans last July to expand Plant 4, with a $10.8 million investment–and creation of 37 new jobs. KAYDON is a recognized leader in thin-section bearings and also produces large and small turntable bearings and higherlevel bearing assemblies for a wide range of manufacturing and process industries. Headquartered in Muskegon, MI, the company is a unit of KAYDON Corporation, a diversified manufacturer with annual sales of over $350 million.


POLARIS Laboratories recently announced development of a Field Services Division and an increase in its national sales team coverage. Included among a number of personnel announcements related to this move were the appointment of Brett Minges as vice president of Sales. Minges, at one time, was a partner in Lubricon, a fluid analysis laboratory that had been based in Indiana.Most recently, he was area general manager for Stewart & Stevenson, a distributor for Detroit Diesel and Allison products. Polaris also named Walt Huysman, CLS, OMA, as director, Field Services.Huysman joined POLARIS as its Northeast & Midwest Territory sales manager in 2002.


Over the years, emergency experts have advised people to prepare for storms ahead of time, yet research indicates only 18% of adults living in storm-prone areas describe themselves as “very prepared” for a natural disaster such as a winter storm. Striving to create a safer work environment for businesses, Grainger is helping organizations across North America prepare for the upcoming winter storm season through a new winter storm program designed to educate customers on ways to mitigate potential dangers caused by these storms. As part of this timely program, the company has created a 12-page “Winter Storm Preparedness Guide” and posted it for download on winter to help businesses and institutions prepare in advance for a storm. To request a free copy in electronic PDF or print format, e-mail


Among the highlights of the recently held 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) in Birmingham, AL, was the election of new officers. Leading the organization for 2007 will be Tom Byerley, chair, Tom Goshert, vice chair,David Staat, treasurer, Rick Baldridge, secretary, and Chuck Armbruster, past chair. LMT

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6:00 am
November 1, 2006
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Boosting Your Bottom Line: When You Elect To Repair Rather Than Replace

Repair-or-replace decisions are a crucial part of a motor management plan. In previous columns, we’ve talked about using life-cycle costing to help guide these important decisions. We’ve also discussed the benefits of NEMA Premium motors when replacement is the best option.

Sometimes, however, it is more cost-effective to repair a motor. In this case, it is important to make sure the service center follows “best practices” to ensure that efficiency is maintained. When “best practices” are not specified, a newly repaired motor might become less efficient and projected monetary savings might be consumed by higher energy costs.

Motor Decisions Matter (MDM) is a North American public-awareness campaign that promotes motor management and “best-practice” repairs. Its sponsors, which include motor manufacturers, sales and service centers, utilities and government agencies, recommend incorporating a motor repair policy into your motor management plan.

The first step is establishing a good working relationship with your service center representative. Develop a repair policy and discuss the type of repair and service you want.You might inquire about other motor management services, such as motor surveys, predictive or preventive maintenance programs or stocking assistance.

If you’re not already familiar with Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) or International Standards Organization (ISO) guidelines for best practices, visit the EASA and ISO Web sites to learn more about the tools available for service providers. EASA is an international trade organization comprising more than 2,000 sales and service centers across the United States. ISO develops standards and guidelines, used globally, to help service providers and managers provide sustainable services.

The EASA site (, see “Industry Info”) can help you develop a written repair policy to communicate your requirements to your service center representative. EASA’s Guidelines for Maintaining Motor Efficiency During Rebuilding is one helpful resource.

By accessing the ISO site (, look for ISO 9000), you can become more familiar with guidelines that can help you in the development of a preferred repair policy and also aid in the choice of a service provider. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy offers a Service Center Evaluation Guide that provides customers with information about the quality of service centers. The guide is available online at or through the Efficiency and Renewable Energy office (EERE) Information Center.

If you have been following MDM’s monthly columns, you may already be aware of the benefits of a motor plan. This month,we’ve explained why a motor repair policy is an important component of such a plan. Developing a close relationship with your service provider and having a best-practice repair policy can help guarantee that when a motor gets fixed, it’s not just operating, it’s operating efficiently. LMT

The Motor Decisions Matter campaign is managed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a North American nonprofit organization that promotes energy-saving products, equipment and technologies. For further information about MDM,contact Ilene Mason at or 617-589-3949, ext. 225.

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6:00 am
November 1, 2006
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Problem Solvers

Conveyor Idler Bearing Isolator Increases Reliability And Safety While Reducing Downtime And Power Consumption


Inpro/Seal Company has announced its new Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator. The result of direct customer request, input and feedback, continuous R&D and extensive field testing and trials, this product was designed to increase productivity, save energy and increase safety in coal mining, ore mining, aggregate and related applications that use belt conveyors in bulk material handling applications. Before the advent of the Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator, users had to deal with outdated sealing methods, in particular elastomeric seals to protect idler bearings. Small, spring loaded, contact seal, elastomerics are tiny plastic devices that make contact and rub on the exterior of the idler roll while operating. Elastomeric seals are widely used because they are cheap and because there has not been anything better available–until now. As a contact seal is prone to failure and needs constant maintenance, the entire bearing protection system is somewhat precarious. And when an elastomeric seal quits working, undesirable things happen, much of it without warning.

A huge industry problem
Belt conveyors are in service, around the world, working 24/7 to “trough the belt” or transport bulk materials in coal mining, ore mining, aggregate, hard quarry and related applications including; concrete, asphalt, fertilizer, salt, recycling, wood, pulp and paper, electric utility, grain, construction, agricultural, steel and general industrial. These belts are typically supported by three conveyor rollers, or idlers, positioned at intervals as close as three linear feet. One roller is horizontal and other two are positioned on either side, at an angle necessary to carry the burden. Depending on the specific application, they operate above and under ground and may extend for many miles over mountainous terrain, roads and streams. There may be as many as 10,500 bearings and bearing protection devices on the conveyor rollers per mile of run. In the mining industry it is estimated that each mine has 3-4 miles of conveyor with idlers strung out the entire length of the belt. When an idler fails, it is most likely the result of bearing damage caused by contaminants (dust or moisture) entering the bearing environment. Chances are the plastic has failed by wearing out and has grooved the shaft or has burned to a crisp at the point of contact. Once an elastomeric seal fails, contaminants are drawn into the housing, where they condense and contaminate the lubricant and cause the bearings to fail. The end result is a seized roll, belt damage or worse. The idler can burst open, and if it does, metal-on-metal contact can cause a fire. To counter this, most mining operations employ greasers that work around the clock trying to keep idler bearings lubricated in an effort to make contact seals work. But, because lip seals carry a 100% failure rate, eventually users will have to deal with catastrophic belt failure no matter what they try.

A welcome solution
Inpro’s Belt Conveyor Idler Roller Bearing Isolator is custom-engineered to suit individual applications. It is easy to install because it conforms to existing clearances, housings and bearing patterns. It can be retrofitted to any existing manufacturer’s top side and return frame assemblies in any belt width or troughing angle for any brand of conveyor. It is available in any idler configuration, including: CEMA B, C,D and will fit any idler type including: transition, impact, troughed, training, return belt, flat carrier, impact, rubber cushion return, self aligning, self aligning return, offset center roll, picking and feeding, unequal length troughed, wire rope, wire rope return, low profile, “V” return idler, variable trough, rubber disc, ceramic,
two, three and five roll garland, live shaft and side guide conveyor idlers.

Inpro/Seal Company
Rock Island, IL

1206_problemsolvers_img2Free Conversion Chart For Food Processing Lubricants

TOTAL Lubricants USA, Inc.–formerly Keystone Lubricants–now offers a handy slide chart that helps the user match the correct Nevastane® H1 food-grade lubricant to the specific application. Typical uses shown include gears and bearings of all types, pressure cookers, chains and conveyors, can-closing machines, wet machinery lube, system cleaning oil, hydraulic systems, air line lubricants and air compressors. On the reverse is another slide chart that shows viscosity specification comparisons. It includes the ISO grade, Kinematic viscosity, Saybolt viscosity at various temperatures and SAE grade, along with AGMA lubricant numbers for EP lubricants, synthetic oils and gear lubricant specs. Nevastane H1 lubricants are widely used within the food processing and other food related industries. They are part of a TOTAL product line that contains dozens of greases and fluid lubricants to serve applications including metalworking, marine, food machinery, hydraulics, power transmission and textile equipment. Packaging includes boxes, cartridges, pints, gallons, pails, kegs, drums, totes and SafeGard® spray containers.

TOTAL Lubricants
USA, Inc. Linden, NJ

1206_problemsolvers_img3Magnetic Oil Filtration Technology

According to its manufacturer, the Halex Coil can enhance the performance of an existing oil filter. The key to its effectiveness is the powerful rare-earth neodymium magnet with which it is constructed. The magnetic field draws particles that are too small for the filter to catch, resulting in cleaner oil.Moreover, the Halex Coil easily attaches to the outside of an existing oil filter. Filters are engineered to maintain flow while lubrication is passed through small holes. Smaller holes mean finer contaminates are trapped. The coil is a filter that performs better than its micron rating without changing flow-rate and without intruding on internal systems. It’s simply a different way to trap more, as it traps 40-90% of iron that would otherwise pass through the existing filter medium. By bonding and “piggybacking,” it traps 20-60% of nonferrous contaminates. This can help extend equipment life and service intervals, improve element efficiency and fuel economy and reduce downtime, emissions, soot and wear.

Halex Development Corp.
Madbury, NH

1206_problemsolvers_img4New Twist In Oil Handling Makes Life Easier For Lubrication Pros

The FlowGuard™ drum topper is Des-Case’s newest filtration unit for the oil handling market. This small, portable filtration station acts as an off-line filter for critical equipment by removing dirt and moisture from hydraulic and gear lubricants. Because most new fluids directly out of the drum may contain contaminants, the FlowGuard’s main purpose is to filter new drum oil.Mounted directly on top of a drum, it is a handy device for filling small totes. The unit’s incorporated pump features various flow capacities to filter hydraulic and gear lubricants. Offering various flow capacities, the unit features a heavy-duty aluminum frame, dual filters providing two-stage filtration, Clear PVC with steel wire reinforced hoses to allow visual confirmation of product flow, differential filter gauges that indicate filter condition and a compact design for easy storage and maintenance. The manufacturer’s value-added approach even lets users create their specific drum toppers entirely on the Des-Case’s Website.

Des-Case Corporation 
White House, TN

1206_problemsolvers_img5Lubricants To Improve Sootblower Performance

DuPont Performance Lubricants has introduced the DuPont™ Krytox® SB series of greases, a new formulation specifically designed to improve sootblower performance in power plant boilers. Sootblowers, which are cleaning devices used to remove deposits of soot, ash and debris from surfaces such as boiler tubes and walls, play an essential role in the operation of a power plant. They help maintain boiler production capacity, ensuring maximum energy recovery and minimizing environmental stack excursions. However, sootblower carriages need constant monitoring and repair. Though not always recognized as such, breakdowns of these devices have a tangible effect on the financial performance of a power plant.According to DuPont, the unique properties of its Krytox SB greases (patent pending) can help extend the life of a sootblower, leading to improved boiler operating efficiency, as well as a savings of both time and dollars resulting from reduced maintenance activities related to upkeep and equipment replacement. The company notes that these greases have been proven to lubricate and protect key sootblower carriage components such as seals, bearings and gears without breaking down, despite an environment where temperatures can reach as high as 500 F. In addition to superior wear performance, these products feature a state-of-the-art anticorrosion package that prevents corrosion of stored elements and corrosion of elements in the box during operation.

DuPont Performance Lubricants
Wilmington, DE

1206_problemsolvers_img6Fast, Easy-to-Use Disposable Funnels

Trico’s Industrial Fast Funnels are the simple, convenient and clean way to pour.Intended for one-time use, each funnel remains clean and compact until separated from the header and opened. Made of coated, heavy grade paper stock, they can be used with virtually any liquid or powder and are designed to fit a wide variety of orifices as small as 3/4” in diameter. Since a new funnel is always ready for use, particle contamination and fluid cross-contamination are virtually eliminated.

  • Improves safety and efficiency by preventing spills on your floors and equipment.
  • Easy to use–simply tear the top funnel from the header, pop open and pour.
  • Easily stores away in any toolbox, cabinet, pocket, etc.
  • Conveniently packaged in handy three-packs.

Trico Corporation
Pewaukee, WI

1206_problemsolvers_img7Specialty Greases For Textile Applications

Klûber, a worldwide manufacturer of specialty lubricants, is pleased to offer ISOFLEX® LDS 18 Special A and ISOFLEX® NBU 15 for use in the textile industry. Both products are designed to withstand high speeds and offer corrosion protection and resistance to oxidation, ageing and water. ISOFLEX LDS 18 Special A is a dynamically light, long-term and low-noise grease for plain and rolling bearings that operate at low temperatures and/or high speeds. The parts that benefit from this grease’s properties include grinding spindles, machine tool spindles, spindle bearings, textile spindles and bearings in OE-spinning turbines. ISOFLEX LDS 18 Special A consists of ester oil, mineral oil and lithium soap and is biodegradable. ISOFLEX NBU 15 is a high-speed grease with good pressure absorption capacity that is suitable for highspeed plain and rolling bearings. This includes spindle bearings in textile machines, threaded spindles and ball screws subject to high loads. ISOFLEX NBU 15 provides good wear protection and is also resistant to ambient media. It consists of ester oil, synthetic hydrocarbon oil, mineral oil and barium complex soap.

Klûber Lubrication
Londonderry, NY

1206_problemsolvers_img8Dry Ice Cleaning Of Machinery Without Disassembling Or Moving It

Kärcher Industrial Products has introduced a dry ice blaster, a highly effective and mess-free method for in-place cleaning of machinery. The new IB 15/80 Dry Ice Blaster uses compressed air to propel tiny dry ice pellets at supersonic speeds so they flash freeze and then lift grime, paint, rust, reins, mold, asphalt and other contaminants from a broad range of surfaces. Moreover, the pellets quickly dissipate into the air so there’s no messy wastewater, solvents, sand or other media to dispose of, only the soiled contaminant that is easily swept up or vacuumed. Dry ice blasting is growing in popularity because it completely eliminates the need to disassemble or move machinery before it’s cleaned. The labor savings is significant, reducing to a few hours what used to take days to do. Furthermore, dry ice blasting cleans in crevices that can’t be reached by hand or via other cleaning methods. This technology also is extremely environmentally friendly. The CO2 pellets are non-toxic and non-hazardous, making them safe for the environment, equipment, the workplace and, especially, employees. The IB 15/80 operates on 120V electricity (5 amps) and uses a blasting pressure of 44 to 230 PSI. Compressed air requirements range from 150 to 300 CFM.

Kärcher Industrial Products 
A division of C-Tech Industries
Camas, WA

1206_problemsolvers_img9Aerosol Food Grade Oil And Grease

To complement its line of synthetic food grade lubricants, Ultrachem has introduced Omnilube® FGM 2 and Omnilube® FGH1046 in new 12 -oz. aerosol spray cans. These products meet all requirements of the USDA and FDA H-1 regulations, 21 CFR 178.3570, conform to the requirements of NSF and are Kosher approved. They offer extended lubrication cycles, reduce wear and friction and operate over a wide temperature range. The complete Omnilube® line of oils for H-1 incidental food contact is available for compressor, hydraulic, gear and multipurpose applications.

Omnilube FGH 1046 Multi-Purpose Oil–Omnilube FGH 1046 is suitable for bearings, oven chains, canning applications, and valves in all segments of the food industry including baking, beverages, dairies, meat and poultry, pharmaceuticals or wherever a premium quality synthetic food grade oil is required.

Omnilube FGM 2 Grease–Omnilube FGM 2 multi-purpose NLGI#2 PAO based calcium complex sulfonate grease offers outstanding performance in a wide variety of applications, including use in wheel bearings and as chassis lubrication. Benefits of this product include excellent heat and moisture resistance, a wide temperature range, high film strength and, according to the manufacterer, unusually superior water wash resistance, as well as resistance to alkalis and food acids and reduced friction and wear.

Ultrachem, Inc.
New Castle, DE

1206_problemsolvers_img10Split Inner Ring Bearing Sets Meet Demanding Vertical Pump Applications

MRC® 97000 Series angular contact ball bearing sets feature a split inner ring design allowing for an optimum ball complement and the capability to accommodate thrust in either direction. With two bearings acting in tandem to share primary thrust load, these sets can handle the especially heavy loads encountered in vertical pump applications. This two-bearing arrangement can match the performance of traditional three-bearing sets, while requiring fewer components and minimal space in an assembly. Sets consist of bearings with 29º contact angles (97000U2 Series) or 40º contact angles (97000U2P Series). Both incorporate an MRC 9000 split inner ring bearing matched in tandem with a single MRC 7000 or 7000P bearing with the same contact angle. Thrust capacity is shared by two bearings in one direction and by one bearing in the reverse direction. These bearing sets are available in metric bore sizes ranging from 65mm to 150mm (2.5 in. to 5.9 in.); engineered to ABEC-1 precision tolerances; and feature extremely durable machined bronze cages.MRC further can develop made-to-order (MTO) warranted products through a dedicated MTO program established to meet customized application demands.

MRC Bearings
Kulpsville, PA

New Space-Saving Bulk Fluid Storage & Dispensing System

Davtone, Inc., manufacturer of the patented Tote-A-Lube® bulk fluid storage and dispensing system, has launched a new product line for extreme space saving applications. The Wall Stackers™ system utilizes the same patented technology of the original Tote-A-Lube stackable polyethylene storage and dispensing system that allows the filling of the bottom container while stacked. Designed for bulk lubricants, the system’s unique gravity feed system has found international acceptance in the chemical, commercial industrial and agricultural fluid sectors as well. The tanks are available in three sizes: 32, 71 and 115 gallons. All three sizes can be mixed or matched together for stacking.With a foot print of only 36” x 19”wide, the system provides for storage of almost 230 gallons of a single product or up to six different fluids in less than 6 square feet of space.

A division of Davtone, Inc.
Motley, MN

1206_problemsolvers_img12Controlled Lubrication For 24VDC Machinery

PLI’s new MEMOLUB® 24VDCEPS model lubricator is especially designed for applications that operate with a 24VDC power supply. It is ideal for lubricating a wide variety of robots, conveyors and OEM applications where machinery is intermittently or infrequently used. It provides the control needed to ensure proper lubrication during periods of equipment operation while avoiding over- lubrication when the equipment is off. The unit can be direct-mounted for singlepoint applications or remote-mounted using pipe or flexible tubing. In addition, lubrication from 2 to 12 lube points is possible with a MEMOLUB ® Multi-Point Lubrication System. According to the manufacturer, the product operates under its own program control. When an external 24VDC voltage is supplied to the lubricator, the unit will cycle once and then follow one of the 52 output settings that the user preprograms using the MEMO system. The unique MEMO system allows the user to set how often the lubricator cycles and the volume of lubricant dispensed per output cycle. The MEMOLUB 24VDC-EPS is available in three sizes: the Standard (Model 120), the Mega (Model 240), and the Giga (Model 480). It’s reusable with available replacement lube cartridges that usually can be changed out in less than 60 seconds.

Racine, WS

In-Plant Lube Transport Simplified


Getting oils out into the plant and into equipment is made simple with new portable totes from Y2K Fluid Power. Incorporating a heavy duty steel frame and a containment tray, these easy-tomaneuver carts are available with:

  • 32- or 71-gallon tank or two 32-gallon tanks
  • Pneumatic or hard rubber tires
  • Electric or air powered pumps
  • Fixed or variable flow rates
  • Variety of filters
  • Desiccant air breather kits
  • Optional portable oil container rack for storing smaller amounts of oil
  • Optional tool box (for elements, grease guns, oil sampling equipment)

These portable totes also can be built for collecting used oils from equipment.

Y2K Fluid Power 
Stacy, MN

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6:00 am
November 1, 2006
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Improving Predictive Maintenance Through Wear Debris Analysis

Treat your oil analysis laboratory as a real partner in the prevention of unexpected equipment shutdowns. Work closely with it to harness the power of the various predictive maintenance techniques that will keep your operations up and running profitably.


The goal of every predictive maintenance tool is to provide an early-warning system before equipment failure—and the earlier a warning comes, the better (see Fig. 1). In the last issue of this magazine, we discussed the use of atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) as one especially powerful early-warning technique (pgs. 30-35, LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER, September-October 2006). However, because of particle size limitations of 10μ need to be utilized. This article discusses a number of these techniques.

Analytical ferrography
The most powerful diagnostic tool in oil analysis is analytical ferrography—the only test that can justify shutting down a piece of equipment. It consists of detailed microscopic examination of a slide to determine:

  • Particle size and relative concentration
  • Metallurgy both ferrous and nonferrous
  • Wear mechanism indicating root cause
  • Component source of wear
  • Identification of contaminants

An analytical ferrography slide is created by passing an oil sample along a glass slide over a strong magnetic field as illustrated in Fig. 2.

The slide captures both ferrous and nonferrous particles along with contaminants and upon heating can reveal additional information on the particle type such type of alloy.

Table I categorizes some of the different particle types along with their sources.

Analytical ferrography also can be used for root cause analysis in evaluating equipment failures. Root causes that can be determined through this technique include:


  • Overloading
  • Misalignment
  • Plain bearing cavitation
  • Contamination

When to use analytical ferrography
The following checklist can help you determine when this technique is appropriate:

  1. Equipment is exhibiting unusual characteristics, such as overheating, high vibration readings, unusual sounds and high ΔP readings across a filter.
  2. Equipment is extremely critical, which necessitates making a moderate investment of $35-$100 per sample to prevent unexpected equipment failures.
  3. High failure rates experienced on startup of new or repaired equipment due to infant mortality caused by material defects, design problems or improper assembly. (Analytical ferrography, along with routine oil analysis tests, should be run quickly after startup.)
  4. A new oil analysis program is established. (Analytical ferrography should be run on critical equipment to establish baseline data.)
  5. Routine oil analysis indicates an unusual condition that necessitates further evaluation. The following tests will be examined as trigger points for further analytical ferrography evaluation:
    • 1206_testing_img3

      Direct Read Ferrography

    • Particle Quantifier
    • Particle Counts
    • Micropatch
    • Laser Net Fines
  6. Critical equipment should have an analytical ferrography done once a year as a minimum.

Direct read ferrography
The direct read ferrography technique measures ferrous particles both large DRL >5μ and small DRS <5μ (see Fig. 2).

In this technique, a sample is flowed through an inclined glass tube across a strong magnetic field with two small openings where magnetic particles are accumulated and measured by light blockage. The first opening captures large particles >5μ and the second opening captures particles <5μ. There is some mixture of particles, so that the first opening captures some of the smaller particles. Contaminants and nonferrous metals also can be captured in the openings. The measurement of particles is expressed as Wear Particle Concentration (WPC), which is a unitless number.

Because direct read ferrography is relatively inexpensive and quick, it is a good screening tool for analytical ferrography. It also is excellent for trending ferrous wear particles.When the ratio of DRL to DRS increases, it is an indication of a greater generation of large particles, which is a precursor to potential catastrophic wear.

Direct read ferrography is commonly used in routine oil analysis for systems with large amounts of ferrous metals, such as gear boxes and screw/reciprocating compressors. Before analytical ferrography is performed in these systems, certain trigger points must be met. Table II expresses normal total WPC values by equipment type before going to analytical ferrography. Each oil analysis laboratory has its own trigger limits for WPC.

It is important to trend the DRL and DRS ratio. Typically, as the ratio increases, wear severity increases. A ratio in excess of 5:1 calls for further investigation with analytical ferrography. Some laboratories, though, are only interested in the overall DRL value.

One major petrochemical plant, based on the knowledge history of its equipment, has established the following guidelines for DRL WPC trigger points for analytical ferrography in Table III.

You will want to work with your oil analysis laboratory to understand and to set guidelines for further analytical ferrography analysis based on your DR readings.

1206_testing_img4Particle quantifier (PQ)
PQ measures ferrous density by exposing samples to a magnetic field. Presence of any ferrous metals causes distortion of the field which is then assigned a dimensionless value called the PQ index.

This test is very quick and inexpensive, but does not differentiate between large and small particles. Consequently, the same PQ value can indicate a large number of small particles, a small number of large particles or a combination of the two. It is a very trendable and can be used to justify analytical ferrography.

One oil analysis laboratory has used the PQ technique along with emission spectroscopy to trend the growth of large particles. For example, if the PQ index is increasing without a corresponding large increase in emission spectroscopy values, which measure only small particles, it is an indication that large wear particles are being generated.

Particle count
There are two types of particle counters: optical and pore blockage.

Optical counters are most commonly used for fluids where laser light can pass through. Dark fluids, such as gear and engine oils, have to use pore blockage to obtain particle counts.

Optical counters can either measure particles by light blockage or light scatter. They can not be used with fluids that contain >300 ppm water. Light blockage or scatter is correlated with fine dust calibration through microscopic particle counting to arrive at size and number of particles. This is a quantitative measure and does not identify particle types, whether they be wear or contaminants. Oil analysis laboratories report actual number of particles per milliliters or per 100 ml by size range. Typical size range counts are shown in Table IV.

In order to simplify the cleanliness of a fluid, the ISO 4406 cleanliness code is used. It is a three-number designation such as 16/14/11, which classifies particles >4μ, >6μ and >14μ with use of the information contained in Table V.

The ISO 16 means that the measured particles >4μ fall within the range of 320 to 640 particles per milliter. The ISO 14 represents particles >6μ that fall in the range of 80 to 160. The ISO 11 are particles >14μ, which fall within the range of 10 to 20.

1206_testing_img5The lower the ISO number, the cleaner the fluid. Every one-number increase in the ISO number signifies a doubling of the particles.A trigger point for analytical ferrography is when the ISO number increases by two. It is important to note particles can be wear, contaminants or a combination of both. Larger particles are more likely caused by wear; therefore trending particles >14μ may indicate the wear severity resulting in further investigation with analytical ferrography.

Pore blockage is used for dark fluids and those contaminated with water. It is a good trending tool and is expressed as a three-number code >4μ, >6μ and>14μ. The test is run by passing a fluid through a 10μ- or 15μ-micron filter and measuring flow decay and extrapolating to express the two ISO numbers of 5 and 15.A two-number increase from one period to another may require analytical ferrography. In most cases, dark fluids, such as gear oils, don’t normally have particle counts run on them. Instead, direct read ferrography typically is utilized to capture significant increases in wear of dark fluids.

In the micropatch technique, a fluid sample is mixed with solvent and then vacuumed through a 0.8μ absolute filter patch. Microscopic analysis is performed on the patch where particles are sized and identified. A good test to identify nonferrous metals and contaminants, it is used as an indication of significant wear that may require further analytical ferrography analysis.

Micropatch testing can be run quickly. It is most appropriate for turbines, compressors, water glycols and natural gas engines.

Laser net fines
Lockheed Martin, in cooperation with the Naval Research Laboratory, developed the laser net fines test in 1998, but the test only recently has begun to be used by commercial oil

analysis laboratories. It measures particle counts for particles >4μ, but also classifies shapes for particles >20μ up to 100μ in the following forms: cutting, severe sliding, fatigue, nonmetallic, fibers and water droplets.

1206_testing_img6The laser net fines test is run by having a pulsed laser diode pass through the sample with a camera recording the images where the particles are classified by shape and size. Its main advantage over optical particle counters is the ability to run both dark and water-contaminated samples. This tool provides very good predictive maintenance information with its ability to trend the morphology of particles in both size and shape, and can be used as a precursor to analytical ferrography, which provides more in-depth evaluation.

A case history
Analytical ferrography is not part of routine oil analysis, but when applied properly, it can prevent catastrophic failures—and lead to significant savings.

A large petrochemical facility has a centrifugal compressor driven by a 700 hp motor producing a large volume gas chemical. Recently, particle count numbers began to increase, eventually reaching the trigger point for analytical ferrography.When this test was performed, it indicated Babbitt bearing wear in the electric motor. The sample was rerun to confirm the findings and again indicated significant wear. Based on the data, operations elected to shut down and inspect the motor. Inspection revealed that the bearing was starting to become wiped and was not replaced. Instead, it was scraped and quickly put back in service, saving $300,000—not including production loss costs, which can be significant.At the next scheduled outage, the bearing was replaced as part of normal maintenance, at minimal cost and with no production losses. In short, thousands of dollars were saved because the motor was not damaged and the shutdown was planned and, therefore, completed quickly.

Many other actual cases can be cited where the use of analytical ferrography has helped prevent catastrophic failure, thus saving millions of dollars.


World-class companies, in order to remain competitive in a global economy, need to practice Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM). Predictive maintenance is central to any successful RCM program, while oil analysis is central to any successful predictive maintenance program.

Keep in mind that although atomic emission spectroscopy is an important predictive tool, it is limited by size of the particles detected. Other techniques are required to measure large particle wear debris. Central to wear debris analysis is analytical ferrography, the only common oil analysis tool that can justify equipment shutdown. Because it is time-consuming and relatively expensive ($35-$100), analytical ferrography is not commonly recommended for all samples. Other tools, such as direct read ferrography and particle counts, need to be utilized as screening before running analytical ferrography.

Typically, about 10-15% of samples require analytical ferrography—and 10% of these samples reveal a critical condition. Only about 1- 1.5% of total samples evaluated reveal a critical condition, but the savings can be large if unexpected equipment failure is prevented. The type of equipment dictates the numbers of samples that will reveal a critical condition. Normally, gear boxes, many of which are overloaded, have a larger percentage of critical samples.

Many companies that have oil analysis programs are not utilizing analytical ferrography. It is important to work with your oil analysis laboratory to apply this tool when needed. Some laboratories will have a normal up-charge, so if analytical ferrography is required, it will be run at no extra cost. This is like having an insurance policy. It definitely should be considered as part of your oil analysis program. LMT

Contributing editor Ray Thibault is based in Cypress (Houston), TX. An STLE-Certified Lubrication Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst, he conducts extensive training in a number of industries. Phone: (281) 257-1526; e-mail:

EDITOR’S NOTE: In a recent article by Ray Thibault,”Part I: Basic Concepts In Formulation Of Finished Lubricants” (pgs. 8-13, LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER, May-June 2006), the word “isodewaxing,” was used, perhaps leading some readers to think that it is a generic term. Please note, however, that “ISODEWAXING” is the proprietary name owned by Chevron for its lube oil isomerization dewaxing process. It also is a trademark owned by Chevron for catalysts and is registered as such in several jurisdictions throughout the world. The name and mark are used by Chevron and its licensees throughout the world and are well recognized in the industry. The author and Lubrication & Fluid Power regret this oversight, and acknowledge that the non-proprietary term “isomerization dewaxing process” should have been used in the referenced article to describe the overall process.

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