Advancements in On-site and Laboratory Ferrous Wear Debris Testing

Paul Froome, Kittiwake

Condition monitoring of machinery lubricants is an established method of predicting and avoiding impending machinery breakdown. With Kittiwake's ferrous debris monitoring technology, laboratories and on-site maintenance engineers identify and detect worn machinery parts before serious damage occurs.

Development of the Monitors
The ANALEX range of ferrous debris monitors from Kittiwake provides an accurate means of detecting and measuring ferrous wear debris in lubricating oils, hydraulic oils and greases regardless of particle size. Used by oil analysis laboratories worldwide, the ANALEXpq technology has been developed and enhanced by Kittiwake since the acquisition of ANALEX in 2002 and is now part of a full suite of ferrous debris products on- and off-line.

The rugged, compact and stable monitors deliver retrievable data quickly and simply, ensuring fast, accurate and consistent management of oil condition samples. The range is ideal for all industrial sectors, from power plants to mines, quarries, railways and heavy construction. The technology is used to improve production efficiency, reduce equipment downtime and increase operational profitability.


Figure 1. Ferrous Debris Reading

New and Improved
The ANALEXfdMplus is the latest ferrous debris monitor and comes with increased software functionality, a more intuitive interface and a novel sample adaptor system allowing the user to test from a multitude of sample vessels including 4 ml pots, 5 ml tubes, 5 and 10 ml syringes and 50 ml bottles. It is an accurate, repeatable, self-contained, rugged unit designed for use in laboratories, on-site or in remote field locations where laboratory analysis is often impractical or impossible.

It provides engineers with on-the-spot measurement of ferrous wear debris in the lubricant and/or grease samples and gives trendable information. This assists the engineer or laboratory technicians with planning preventive maintenance programs, and helps ensure informed decision-making when assessing machinery and equipment condition.

Multiple Sample Options
The monitor measures ferrous wear debris in all types of oil, from gearbox lubricants to hydraulic fluids. One of the other key benefits is that it will also measure ferrous wear debris found in grease. The grease sample is placed into a small 5 ml pot, then placed into a special insert that allows a measurement to be taken.

Utilizing the latest in inductive coil magnetometry, the monitor detects and measures the mass of ferrous wear debris within the sample, regardless of the size of the wear particles present. The result is displayed in parts per million (ppm) and can be trended with accepted linearity over a wide range of ferrous debris content and particle sizes. The technology is a sensitive magnetometer and will, therefore, measure only metals which are magnetic. It is necessary to understand the relevance of measuring ferrous wear debris as many people will ask "what about all the other metals?"

Many lubricated compartments are made up mainly of iron. If abnormal wear is occurring, an increase in iron wear debris will typically show up first. It is, therefore, vital to have an instrument that accurately monitors the trend of ferrous debris occurring in the lubricant. A significant increase indicates abnormal wear conditions and prompts further investigative action.


Figure 2. Ferrous Debris Monitor

Trendable PPM Ferrous Wear Debris
The ability of the monitor to operate on 12 volts provides access to laboratory-grade instrumentation to users in the field. The remoteness of many industrial plants that do not have ready access to either their own laboratory or a commercial lab makes this a vital tool. Examples include remote cement plants in India, island power plants and floating power barges in Indonesia, and mines in Australia.

With a display resolution of 1 ppm and a range (dependent on sample size) of up to 30,000 ppm, the unit is a useful on-site tool which can provide readings as fast as you can load the media. For labs that would like to automate the test process, a robot is available.

Getting Data
Data from each sample is stored in the internal memory which can then be displayed onboard the monitor, either in graphical or tabular format with easy transfer of data to a host PC by the RS232 interface. This data transfer provides for trending of the ferrous metals in the oil or grease samples. With up to 30 groups and 40 pieces of equipment available per group, the user can store data in a number of different ways.

Data entry is accomplished via a simple and intuitive touch pad screen which can record automatic date and time linked to each group, equipment or sample number, along with equipment number or identification and sample number, or identification and lubricant hours (0 to 999,999 hours).

This instrument is the latest development in the on- and off-line range of wear debris analysis equipment from Kittiwake and is supplied ready for use in a protective, portable carrying case.

About the Company

Kittiwake provides fluid condition monitoring equipment for fuel, oils and water. For more information, visit www.kittiwake.com.

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