|Schroeder’s Testmate Contamination Monitor continually monitors particulate contamination of hydraulic fluid at regular intervals to detect potential problems before they cause premature failure.|
| The Testmate Contamination Monitor is small enough to be mounted on filter carts, making it even more versatile in servicing multiple machines. |
Cleaner hydraulic fluid continues to be a goal for equipment owners and operators all over the world. They recognize that fluid contamination can be a major cause of equipment failures that lead to expensive downtime, and unscheduled equipment maintenance. Even if contamination doesn’t cause a catastrophic failure, in general it can shorten the life of hydraulic components, including the fluid itself.
To spot trouble before it causes problems, many owners and operators take periodic fluid samples for periodic fluid sampling and subsequent analysis. But this may not go far enough for the most critical equipment. If analysis does reveal a problem, it may be too late to prevent a failure, which may be eminent.
The most sophisticated way to detect contamination before it becomes a problem would be to continuously monitor fluid condition while equipment is actually in operation. This would provide continuous history of fluid contamination — not just an occasional snapshot. Ultimately, it would reveal trends that could be used for predictive maintenance. This predictive maintenance would not only reveal problems before they occur, but could fine tune operation to truly optimize equipment life and performance.
This may sound like a hypothetical scenario, but it’s not. An instrument to continuously sample and assess fluid contamination recently was introduced by Schroeder Industries, Leetsdale, Pa. Schroeder’s TestMate Contamination Monitor (TCM) is a small-scale particle counter that’s inexpensive enough to mount permanently on a single critical machine. It’s also portable enough to be be used on multiple machines. It can be placed in almost any type of hydraulic equipment in any orientation, both mobile and industrial.
Continuous monitoring and testing of hydraulic fluid allows users to monitor the performance of equipment from which long-term system health can be predicted and preventive maintenance steps initiated. At that point the device becomes invaluable because users need not rely on costly time-based testing — which requires trained personnel, or even worse, shutting the machine down to service.
Benefits of the design
The TCM performs particle count tests on hydraulic fluid by taking a sample every 30 to 300 sec depending on user setting, updating the fluid’s ISO code approximately every minute, and sending warning signals that can shut off a machine if necessary. In addition, with a larger fluid opening compared to competing devices, the TCM is significantly less prone to clogging during the fluid measurement phase.
The system also determines how dirty the hydraulic fluid is, and upgrades can be made to the system to determine how well the equipment is performing. In turn, the user is able to identify any components of the hydraulic system that may be failing.
These are crucial details that users must know in order to execute preventive maintenance properly, ultimately increasing quality, prolonging equipment life, and avoiding downtime and cost overruns. Moreover, the measurement results can be output as a contamination code according to ISO 4406: 1999 or SAE AS 4059 (D), thereby allowing effective compliance to industry standards.
Some particle counters can be difficult to use because they come loaded with features requiring a long learning curve for proficient use. The TCM, on the other hand, requires no prior training. It can self-diagnose continuously with error indication LED and offers a user-programmable relay. The relay can serve as a warning or highlevel alarm or to indicate ISO code achievement.
When used as a warning, the relay will trigger a warning light or cause a machine to shut down if fluid becomes too dirty — as determined by a user-defined set point. When used to indicate ISO cleanliness achievement, the TCM continually monitors fluid contamination levels until a user specified ISO level is reached for five consecutive measurements. This would be useful when implemented into a cleanliness program to prove that original equipment is clean when it leaves a facility.
Advanced electronics and optics make the TCM smaller (4-in. diameter) than most online monitors. It also tolerates machine vibration and is IP 67 rated for dust and moisture resistance. The ability to recalibrate the machine is another advantage unavailable with other low-cost monitors. Plus, the monitor can handle connections to hydraulic and lubrication lines at pressures up to 1450 psi (100 bar) and with fluid viscosities to 4635 SUS (1000 cSt). Additionally, the TCM has its own keypad and display, so it need not be connected to a laptop.