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Fluid Analysis: The Gift of Time

IMC Presentation (46:13)

Jack Poley, CMI

Though applicable to any fluid analysis (Fa) program, this presentation is primarily aimed at the industrial market, i.e., plants and related installations of stationary, lubricated assets, where vibration analysis (Vib) is routinely employed for condition monitoring (CM) and maintenance management.

“Modern” fluid analysis appeared, circa 1948, when a railroad decided to perform chemical analysis of in-service diesel engine lubes to detect wear metals accumulation, including iron (Fe), aluminum (Al), copper (Cu) and lead (Pb) wear. Fa that included wear metals detection and analysis became a ‘business,’ circa 1960, when a small lab in Oakland, CA was purposed to perform Fa. Instrument technology replaced beaker chemistry, reducing cost and huge amounts of time to test.

Over time many labs emerged, and sometimes merged, and Fa became a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide. In the early 1970s, Vib appeared on the scene, primarily in industrial applications with stationary assets. A sensor mounted on an asset would trigger an alarm if abnormal vibration readings occurred. The ease with which problems could be detected in real time fostered a romance between maintenance and Vib that still exists today and should, but with proper Fa support for early warning and avoidance of Vib alerts. Vib’s great success inadvertently throttled Fa’s adoption at the same level of importance. Vib is the first CM discipline a maintenance team in a plant thinks of in terms of necessity. Today, not having a Vib program in a plant is unthinkable. Were it so that Fa was as highly valued. There’s money being left on the table…

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