Southwest Spectro-Chem Labs - Oil Testing

Nestled in the midst of commercial buildings, industrial plants and manufacturers lies Southwest Spectro-Chem Labs. Texas is known for oil, which makes South Houston the perfect home for a laboratory.

In 1983, David Clayton purchased the lab, equipment and client base of Southwest Spectro-Chem. At that time the lab processed roughly 1,000 samples a month, they currently run 4,000. By remaining relatively small, they continue to maintain personal relationships with customers.

“We’re big enough to be able to handle a surge of sample requests without falling behind, and flexible enough to run a ‘rush’ sample immediately,” said Mr. Clayton.

Southwest Spectro-Chem can provide an analysis package specifically designed for your operation and special/non-routine analysis to help solve particular problems. These programs now include emission spectrometric analysis of over 20 elements. Lube oil analysis, water and coolant analysis, refrigerant analysis, fuel analysis and scale/deposit analysis are all in-house services available.

“Lube oil analysis is similar to blood work of a routine medical check-up. Usually if results are normal, everything’s okay. When a problem is noted, correct diagnosis can be made through further testing. Proper corrective action can then be taken to fix the problem and prevent further occurrences,” said Mr. Clayton.

There are three things you should expect from your lube oil analysis program according to Mr. Clayton: the condition of the oil lubricated components of your equipment, the condition of the lubricant (whether it is suitable for continued use or should be changed) and the contamination level of the lubricant, including what the contamination is.

“We are not trying to be a national company as much as we are trying to be a focused and competent supplier for our clients,” said Mr. Clayton. “We are basically in the business of providing preventative/predictive maintenance services/products to our customers.”

Field service is another facet of Southwest Spectro-Chem Labs. Their trained and qualified staff can assist customers with sample gathering, sample point survey, training and consultation to resolve specific lubricant-related equipment problems.

Machinery Doctor’s Diagnostic Toolbox:

  • Lube oil analysis
  • Vibration analysis
  • Proximity probes
  • Thermography analysis
  • Filter pressure difference monitoring
  • Machine performance monitoring
  • Audio-visual inspection

Other, More Extensive Analyses:

  • Filter and water particle analysis
  • Deposit, sludge and scale analysis
  • Coolant, refrigerant and process fluid analysis

A few years ago, Mr. Clayton met an officer of a major candy bar company who had been experiencing equipment failures at his plant. His equipment was too small for routine oil analysis and they didn’t have vibration analysis equipment onsite. The company didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this piece of equipment because it was a small power motor. However, when the motor failed, it forced a production outage that lasted for two days. He estimated that they lost $1 million. Mr. Clayton says that this shows that everyone needs to be doing some sort of proactive and predictive maintenance.

As with other labs, most people mail in their samples, but they do have those who drive in the samples for rushed analysis. Their client base is spread throughout North America and consists of transportation, oil and gas exploration, production, pipelining, oil and chemical processing as well as industry and commerce. The average turnaround time takes about two days per sample.

They also offer a complete program management package including off-the-shelf software, customizable software and total management services. Lube Master Expert is Southwest’s complete lube oil analysis management software system. This three-tiered alarm system with global change capabilities contains a self-maintaining reference oil library and sample point list, secure modem-to-modem communication, auxiliary report generating, on-screen help, sorting and filtering functions, color-coded exception reporting and an on-screen lube guide manual.

According to Mr. Clayton there are a few things you should consider when selecting a lab: the quality and reliability of the service provided, the technical expertise of its staff, the availability of this service and technical expertise to you, the speed of the analysis and the cost of the service. The staff at Southwest are experts in biology, chemistry, computers, electronics and mechanical engineering. Their technical mastery includes over 100 years of experience in laboratory analysis, lubrication, water treating and general maintenance.

The staff at Southwest emphasize other important advantages of using their lab: they standardize all equipment daily, hold regular technical training programs for their staff, use only ASTM, API or other approved test protocol, conduct analyses and report results promptly and customize tests to suit client needs.

For More Information Contact:
David Clayton, President
1009 Louisiana
South Houston, TX 77587
Phone: 713-944-3680
Fax: 713-944-9881

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