Contamination Control Basics
Change filters carefully. Oil and filter change intervals should be met. The used filter should be removed carefully at change time to ensure that contaminants do not reenter the system. The new filter should be kept in its package until it is ready to be installed.
Filling filters with oil before installation is not recommended because the process can introduce contaminants into the system. Inspect used filters for metal particles and other indicators of problems. High-efficiency filters are recommended after any system repairs have been made.
Inspections and particle counting
Exercise care in operation and maintenance. Well-trained and alert operators and service technicians are an important element in contamination control efforts. Make sure equipment is inspected daily for leaks and fixed immediately if any are found.
Using a filter cart, often called a kidney loop filtration unit, will clean up oils after repairs have contaminated reservoirs and at other times when the particle count is high.
Always keep the hydraulic tank between “full” and “add.” Insufficient fluid levels are the leading cause of pump cavitation, which can lead to pump failure and contamination of the entire system. Low fluid levels also can result in high oil temperatures, which can cause oil to degrade. Maintain oil cooler and relief valves properly. Use cylinder rod protectors when conditions warrant. Monitor system temperatures and heed warnings when operating.
A particle counter can quickly identify contaminated fluids to help guide the maintenance process and to determine the success of clean-up work.
Use particle counting to measure contamination control efforts. Particle count identifies the number of particles in a 1-milliliter sample of oil. It cannot identify specific elements or distinguish metal from non-metal, but unlike spectrographic analysis, particle counters handle a wide range of 4 microns to greater than 70 microns in size.
Covering lubricant drums helps keep rust from forming on the plugs and keeps water and dirt from getting into them when they are opened for use.
Particle counting is critical because the human eye can’t see most of the dirt that damages machine systems — and it doesn’t take very much. Only one-half teaspoon of dirt, about 160 milligrams, in a 208-liter barrel of oil pushes the contamination past the ISO standard for fill oil.
A breather containing a 4-micron filter and a desiccant to remove moisture should be used on each bulk tank.
Implementing a contamination control program is an effective way to get more from your mining machines while reducing costs. Get started with help from your equipment dealer’s contamination control specialist.
Carmen Rose is a senior consultant with the Caterpillar Marketing Product Support Division in Peoria, Ill. He initiated contamination control procedures in the East Peoria, Ill., track-type tractor manufacturing plant in the early 1990s. In 1999, he started taking those concepts to Caterpillar dealers and customers worldwide. Rose is respectfully known as the ‘Father of Contamination Control.’
Cheat Sheet to controlling contamination
Clean and cap hoses and tubes.
Equip oil and diesel fuel storage tanks with desiccant breathers to keep dirt and water out.
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