Small-scale Particle Monitor Presents New Preventive Maintenance Possibilities

J.d. Funk, Schroeder Industries

Designing, manufacturing and marketing advanced filtration and fluid conditioning products is the main focus of Schroeder Industries. It serves approximately 15,000 customers in the fluid power industry, concentrating on hydraulic filtration. This year, Schroeder and its parent company, Hydac International GmbH, unveiled a leading-edge instrument, the TestMate® Contamination Monitor (TCM). This revolutionary new particle counter is ideal for preventive maintenance in hydraulic fluid.

The TCM oil analysis unit is the latest generation of small-scale particle monitors for the continuous measurement of solid contamination in hydraulic and lubrication fluids. The measurement of particulates in hydraulic fluids is crucial to maintaining the life of a machine. When fluid is dirty, it escalates the wear and tear of equipment leading to longer periods of downtime and increased maintenance costs.

This instrument offers advantages over the existing practices of sporadic testing of hydraulic fluid by bottle sampling or using an expensive particle counter that must be moved to each testing location. The TCM allows users to continuously test hydraulic fluids with a rugged, portable, user-friendly device.

The design and low cost of the TCM enable users to install the device on individual pieces of hydraulic equipment. The unit operates continuously and can be placed on both mobile and industrial types of hydraulic equipment. This flexibility makes the TCM ideal for a variety of industries and applications.

The TCM conducts tests on hydraulic equipment by procuring a fluid sample every 30 to 300 seconds, depending upon the user's setting, updating the equipment's ISO cleanliness code and sending warning signals that can shut down a machine if necessary. Additionally, with a large fluid opening, the TCM has less clogging during the fluid measurement phase.

With the system, the user is able to identify components of the hydraulic system that may be failing.

These are crucial details users must know to properly execute preventive maintenance to increase quality, prolong equipment life and avoid downtime and cost overruns. Moreover, the measurement results can be presented as a contamination code according to ISO 4406: 1999 or SAE AS 4059 (D), thereby allowing effective compliance to industry standards. A different model is also available that measures NAS1638 and ISO4406:1986.


TCM with FC Manifold

While many modern particle counters are complex to use, the TCM is user-friendly and requires no prior training. It can self-diagnose with error vindication and offers a user-programmable relay. The TCM can be used for two different types of measurement: warning and high-level alarm or ISO code drop.

When the TCM is used as a preventive maintenance technology to reduce failure and downtime, users will be alerted when particle contamination is increasing by either a warning light or machine shutdown. With ISO code setting, the unit will also continually monitor contamination until ISO codes drop to the user-set level for five consecutive measurements. The ISO setting is typically implemented in roll-off cleanliness programs by OEMs to prove that their equipment is clean upon exiting a facility.

Because of advanced electronics and optics, the TCM is smaller than most online monitors. The monitor tolerates vibrations on mobile machines and is water- and dust-resistant with an IP 67 rating. The ability to recalibrate the machine is another advantage unavailable with other low-cost monitors. In addition, the monitor can handle connections to hydraulic and lubrication lines with pressures up to 4,350 psi (300 bar) and viscosities up to 1,000 cSt (4,635 SUS). The TCM has a display and keypad panel for data viewing without a PC.

Product Applications
The new particle counter is rapidly gaining popularity in the OEM and industrial communities. For instance, an end-user in an injection molding house now uses the TCM on filter carts to monitor the cleanliness of equipment oil, which reduces maintenance, downtime and filter costs while increasing productivity and output.

The TCM can also be utilized by organizations that rent out hydraulic equipment. It is simple for owners to check the data on their TCM devices to verify that renters are maintaining the machines correctly and charge them for any necessary repairs due to contamination or improper maintenance programs.

OEM markets are beginning to integrate the particle counter into the hydraulic power units on various systems. In the industrial arena, users can install the particle counter on test stands to determine oil cleanliness, to ensure ISO levels are acceptable and to document cleanliness.

Looking Ahead
In order to secure the next generation of particle counter technology, companies need to begin enhancing hydraulic preventive maintenance operations immediately. The proper execution of a company's preventive maintenance and quality strategies requires meticulous attention to detail. The TCM has the ability to deliver vital clues needed for preventive maintenance. As a quality-enabler, this product is a viable way to efficiently complete the job. Down the road, Schroeder plans to keep unleashing strategic innovations in hydraulic filtration.

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