First, make sure that your sample documents and bottles clearly show who the report goes back to and that they have the correct ID written on them. Second, mail your samples immediately after you take them. Third, use a reliable postal delivery service that allows you to trace any package that we do not receive in a timely manner.
If you want RUSH processing, there are two more keys to success:
First, write the word “RUSH” in large red letters on the outside of the mailing container, and again on the sample documents.
Second, call the lab to alert us that you have a RUSH request and make arrangments in advance for any additional charges this might incur. Have the sample information and ID handy in case the lab needs to record this data to spot your incoming package.
Regardless of whether you call or e-mail the lab, there are several tips to getting a quick answer to a “status of your sample” question. First, if you’ve sampled that system before, there is a number (up to six-digits) at the top right of your last report, to the right of a heading marked “Comp Ref No.” or “Record Ref. #”.
Provide that number right away when you call or write, as it directs us straight to the appropriate sampling point. Second, if you haven’t sent a sample from that system before, be sure to tell us the name and ID exactly as it was written on the paperwork sent with the sample. If the information you provide when you call doesn’t match the information sent in with your sample, there will be an unavoidable delay while we search for your file.
Many customers use our laboratories. Consequently, the high volume of service means an equally high volume of information moving through our systems. We have to interrupt that flow and pick out the piece you’re interested in—and usually, that request comes without any warning. So when you call about a sample, please be patient if it takes a moment or two to bring up your files. Once we have them, we’ll be happy to answer your questions to the best of our ability.
The most frequent cause of “history split” is a mismatch in the sampling point ID between one sample and the next. In many cases, even valid ID’s differ only in one number or letter from the next for the same customer.
Our computers are no different than any other—they are literal-minded. So any difference in the ID’s—a slight difference in the wording, a period, an extra space, two dashes instead of one—any of these can cause a new file to be opened. Our data entry personnel are trained and skilled, but it is not possible to memorize the hundreds of thousands of ID configurations in order to recognize and eliminate duplicate entries.
If this happens it is usually easy to repair. We will ask you for the ID data from the previous and current reports, and quickly identify the discrepancy. Once this is done the records will be merged, a data analyst will review the combined file and make any updates necessary to the sample evaluation and a corrected report will be issued.
There are several ways this type of problem can be reduced or eliminated. First, double-check sample documents against your previous sample reports. Second, if you have several people taking samples and completing paperwork, make sure they are all working from a master list of sampling points and ID’s. Third, identify your sampling points with fixed asset or tag numbers if possible; when descriptions such as “Bill’s compressor” or “Northwest gearbox” are used, the likelihood that ID’s will be inconsistent over time greatly increases.
And finally, once you have your points identified, ask us about our sampling ID labels. These preprinted labels give you all the correct ID’s straight from our database—all you have to do is accurately affix them to forms and bottles for assured identification of your samples.
The Unit and Component ID’s are important for identification and evaluation support. In addition to providing the lab with a reliable way to permanently file and access your test results, they provide our Data Bureau Veritas with the starting point for their interpretation. The remaining data on the information form is even more important. For example, the operating times on component and oil are essential to trend analysis. To help illustrate why, imagine taking two identical machines in identical environments with identical rates of wear for the element iron. If one unit is sampled after 10 hours and the second after 100 hours, naturally the iron test results in the second sample would be 10 times higher than the first. If the time on oil is not provided then the assumption could be made that the wear severity was 10 times higher, when actually they were exactly the same—only one had 10 times longer for wear to accumulate in the oil. Also, during the break-in period the higher wear levels typical for this process can look very similar to abnormal wear. This information becomes even more important when “one-shot” samples are submitted for quick checks or problem investigations.
Trending is not enough; the trends need to be compared to make, model, and oil type to give you the maximum value for your oil sample. There are internal construction details that differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, and the oil itself must be matched to the correct product name and brand to ensure proper servicing and a correct evaluation of any problems that may change the oil’s properties. In the absence of oil and component data, evaluations are based on assumptions rather than actual knowledge. We rely on you to provide us with as much data as possible on which to base our recommendations and research.
Multigrade oils (i.e. 5W30, 15W40, 20W50) contain viscosity index (VI) improvers. The purpose of these additives is to keep the oil’s viscosity within range as temperatures increase. Depending on clearances, speed, oil temperature and additive chemistry, the molecular VI improvers can “shear” in service. This causes the oil viscosity to decrease. A very small change in viscosity can cause the sample to cross the boundary between one SAE grade and the next. When you see your oil SAE grade decrease from SAE 40 to SAE 30, for example, look at the actual change in the viscosity test result. This will tell you the severity of the change independent of the indexed SAE grade.
QSA® combines a number of varying approaches to determine the sludge and varnish potential of lubricants. Led by Jonathan Rudnick, Bureau Veritas Technical Director, Bureau Veritas has independently researched this problem for a number of years. Over time we identified other organizations including oil companies, filtration companies and many end users that were also concerned about the problems of varnish build-up and the inability to identify its presence with traditional laboratory testing. These companies, including Clarus Technologies, Shell Oil, ChevronTexaco, Kleentek, and a number of plastics manufacturers and power producers were very helpful in our developmental work on QSA®.
QSA® testing protocol was purposely designed to isolate, identify and measure the specific degradation by-products responsible for the formation of sludge and varnish, there is no other commercial technology like QSA® offered in the marketplace. QSA® does not use traditional oil analysis methods or instruments. Through field research, we developed the Varnish Potential Rating (VPR℠ ), in which severity levels are application specific. Until QSA® was developed, there never was a VPR℠.
Let’s start with a brief explanation of what varnish is made of and how it forms. Varnish deposits are made up of lubricant degradation by-products. Lubricant degradation occurs from oxidative, thermal or chemical attack on the building blocks of the lubricant – the hydrocarbon molecule. Hydrocarbon degradation is a complex process where normal oil molecules transform into a wide variety of harmful intermediaries. These intermediaries are highly reactive and easily transform into new compounds. As these reactions continue or propagate, new polymers of increasing molecular weight form. Many of these compounds or by-products are insoluble. Simply put, varnish is composed of these organic polymers.
Conventional laboratory test methods are not intended to identify these by-products. What conventional oil analysis does do is identify the end result of certain physical properties, contamination and component wear.
QSA® focuses specifically on the chemical and physical signatures of the particular types of degradation by-products that have a high tendency to deposit on surfaces.
QSA®, is concerned with elements in transition, degradation by-products that are on the way to becoming something else – varnish. Finding those elements in the oil is a complex and difficult task. One way to look at it is this is a natural evolution of the science of lubrication analysis and we are the laboratory at the leading edge of the research.
No, not at all. QSA® combined with a solid oil analysis program will broaden the spectrum of information that the users can utilize to make the most informed decisions from their analytical test programs. QSA® focuses on lubricant properties that traditional oil analysis testing methodologies do not. QSA® addresses sludge and varnish build-up. Proper routine oil analysis addresses component wear, sources of contamination and changes in the physical properties of the lubricant. Both are important players in the fight for increased equipment reliability.
Each client receives a customized report that includes the VPR℠, a severity scale that depicts where the result lies between normal and critical, a digital image of the separated contaminants, and a written interpretation of the laboratory results.
For a first time sampler, the easy-to-understand severity scale allows the user to quickly determine their risk for developing varnish related problems. We also include a historical graph of the VPR℠ to assist in trending.
Prior to the development of QSA®, there was virtually no mechanism to provide an early warning of an impending varnish problem. Historically, the most common way of detecting varnish was by visual observation of easily viewed surfaces in the system. Unfortunately, dirty sight glasses and “bathtub rings” in lubricant reservoirs often do not show up until the contamination level has reached critical stage. All too often, unexpected varnish deposits were observed on internal components such as valves, bearings and gears during unscheduled and costly shutdowns or failures.
By monitoring those contaminants responsible for sludge and varnish, maintenance planners can properly schedule service and/or implement appropriate corrective actions before costly damage occurs and unnecessary downtime is experienced. QSA® will develop into a useful tool in root cause analysis. By controlling factors that influence or promote lubricant degradation, machine reliability and availability increases. This has a significant impact on industry.
Not really. Varnish is a widespread problem that challenges many industries. We have found that almost everyone involved in maintenance, production, and reliability encounter some degree of problems associated with varnish. Most already understand the benefits of early detection.
Some of the most common problems related to sludge and varnish build-up that these professionals face are sticking servo control valves, elevated operating temperatures, accelerated wear and filter plugging. We have found that the marketplace is hungry for an effective predictive tool that can be used to monitor the otherwise missed varnish precursors in used lubricants.
We officially introduced QSA® to the marketplace at IMC 2004. Our immediate goal is to have our sales department actively introduce the technology directly to the industrial sector. Additionally our co-workers have written papers to present this technology at additional forums including the upcoming annual STLE meeting and other industry related conferences.
While the existing technology is solid and provides tremendous returns for our customers, we are continuing our research, particularly in areas such as contaminants versus lubricant performance.
QSA® is now used extensively in the power generation and industrial hydraulic market. We have identified dangerous fluid conditions at numerous facilities during the past year. These alerts have allowed our clients to implement appropriate corrective actions and investigate root cause before an unscheduled shutdown or worse.
One specific case involved a base load power plant. The laboratory identified a very high VPR℠. Based on the QSA® results, the plant initiated a corrective action utilizing electrostatic filtration as well as continued sampling. Over the course of the next few months QSA® showed a gradual decrease in the VPR℠ . When the plant shut down for planned maintenance the found the valves and filters were clean with no varnish related problems. The savings were in the tens of thousands of dollars.
To learn more about QSA® and its benefits people can visit our website at analystsinc.wpengine.com where we have excellent information on the technology. From the website they can also request additional information about our services or to have a representative contact them.
If they have a specific problem or question they would like to discuss we invite to contact our leading expert, Gene Wagenseller at 800-248-7778 or send us an Email.
To learn more about sludge and varnish and their effects on machinery there are a number of very well written educational papers that have been published. An internet search, or call to Bureau Veritas at 800-655-4473 will get them details on this area.
No, the LOAMS program is free for as many users as your organization requires. Bureau Veritas believes that in addition to quality test results and expert evaluations, our customers need the right tools to get the most out of each oil sample. LOAMS is that tool.
Note: By opting in to utilize LOAMS, you will no longer receive hard-copy reports in the mail.
The LOAMS platform is designed to support as many users as each customer requires. New features within the LOAMS platform allow each customer to manage their own users and grant various levels of permission.
Bureau Veritas - Oil Analysis (formerly Analysts, Inc.) provides oil analysis, coolant analysis, fuel analysis, and oil testing services through testing labs located in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Japan, Mexico and China. The Oil Analysis division of Bureau Veritas was previously known as Analysts, Inc. The company serves the oil analysis needs of customers worldwide, including California, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and all states in the United States, as well as Canada and all of North American. In addition, Bureau Veritas - Oil Analysis also serves the international market, including Mexico, Brazil, Central America, South America, Europe, Germany, France, the United Kingdom / UK, Asia and more.