Monday, February 6, 2012

When Failure is Not an Option, Fluid Monitoring is the Answer

Ray McCann,
 Sales Engineer
The Hope Group

While it may be glamorous to claim that “failure is not an option,” the reality is that with regard to hydraulic and oil lubrication systems, various levels of failure are more common than we like to admit. Despite our best efforts to prevent failures, according to reported industry incidents, about 80 percent of all system failures are attributable to fluid contamination. Those tiny bits of what-not floating around in your oil can lead to slow degradation of your system, which contribute to short-lived transient failures that can suddenly erupt into catastrophic failures.

The best chance to reduce or eliminate failures in hydraulic and oil lubrication systems is to institute a monitoring system. This can range from a simple routine of scheduled sample testing all the way to installation of remote system monitoring on a continuous basis. Fluid analysis such as the Parker Par-Test™ is able to identify potential problems that cannot be detected by human senses. Each time a test sample is taken and analyzed, system operators can be assured that fluids remain within acceptable parameters. Consistent application of these tests and the correct interpretation of the findings can help prevent major hydraulic and lube oil systems failures.

In many industrial applications, such as modern gas turbine power plants, there is a need for remote operation without the need for servicing between scheduled maintenance events. Such applications which are unstaffed areas, or are significantly difficult to access, the remote capability assures any fluid degradation is detected quickly. Real-time fluid condition monitoring is also important where any failure could affect the safety of operations. With the proper trend analysis, important pre-warnings can be made to ensure that predictive corrective actions can be taken.

Recently I had a chance to work with a client that had a requirement for remote fluid monitoring and the Parker iCount particle detector system was exactly what they needed. The Hope Group and Parker can provide direction on how to properly install the detector for each application. Proper installation ensures that the unit will operate accurately. With proper analysis and planning the system can be a quiet, effective solution to ensuring against failure.