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Transportation

Overview

Properly maintaining a fleet of vehicles is critical to any organization that relies on transportation, whether it is for over-the-road trucking, public transportation, municipal public works, and off-road trucking and hauling like construction or mining.

Maintaining a fleet of vehicles is challenging and costly, regardless of what kind of vehicles they are. Timely maintenance is key to keeping the fleet running efficiently. However, maintenance can be expensive and hard to plan. One of the best ways to save money and streamline maintenance is to bring fluids analysis in-house.

With new oil and cooolant analyzers like the MicroLab and CoolCheck2, oil and coolant can be tested on the spot, while other maintenance tasks are being completed. Full analyses are ready in minutes to tell your maintenance personnel if it’s time to change the oil or the coolant, or if the vehicle can safely be put back into service.

Sending samples to a lab is more expensive than doing it on on-site and by the time you get the answers you need, that vehicle has left the shop.

Challenges

Oil drains are expensive for large vehicles

By monitoring oil condition with on-site analysis, the maintenance staff can determine if the oil drain interval can be extended safely. Reducing the number of oil drains required per vehicle by even just one time per year can provide significant savings across a fleet of vehicles.

Repair costs can be high

Oil analysis can help identify potential problems early – before they become catastrophic and costly repairs. On-site analysis provides the service technicians the information about the vehicle while it is still in the garage so repairs can be made immediately before it goes back out on the road. Early identification could mean the difference between a $2,500 EGR cooler repair and a $30,000 engine rebuild.

Downtime of vehicles impacts service and revenue

When a vehicle is unavailable due to mechanical problems it means it is not available to provide necessary service like in the case of a city transit bus or if it is part of the public works fleet for things like snow removal. For companies like freight haulers or mining equipment it means it will impact the revenue generating service it provides. Oil analysis can help fleet managers to ensure their vehicles will be up and running when they are needed.

Managing maintenance workflow can be difficult

A busy service garage, especially one that maintains a large fleet of vehicles, needs to optimize the flow of their vehicles to get them in, serviced and back on the road in a timely manner. Many fleet customers will bring a vehicle in and immediately pull an oil sample for test. While it is running, they can conduct other necessary service checks. Oil drains are expensive for large vehicles.

Typical Tests – Wear

Particle Count

A high particle count or a rapid increase in particles can foreshadow an imminent failure.

Particle Composition

It is often important to understand the elemental composition of particles in order to find out where they came from. Optical Emission Spectroscopy gives the user elemental information for up to 32 elements, from Li to Ce (varies with application).

Particle Type

The size, shape and opacity of particles is used to determine if they are from cutting wear, sliding wear, fatigue wear, nonmetallic or fibers. This allows operators to determine the type of wear debris, wear mode and potential source from internal machinery components.

Chemistry

Total Acid Number (TAN)

TAN is measured to determine the corrosive potential of lubrication oils. If the TAN gets too high the oil can induce corrosion of machine parts and should be changed.

Total Base Number (TBN)

TBN measures the amount of active additive left in a sample of oil. The TBN is useful for people who want to extend their oil usage far beyond the normal range. The TBN of a used oil can aid the user in determining how much reserve additive the oil has left to neutralize acids. The lower the TBN reading, the less active additive the oil has left.

Viscosity

The main function of lubrication oil is to create and maintain a lubrication film between two moving metal surfaces. Insuring the viscosity is within recommended ranges is one of the most important tests one can run on lube oil.

Oxidation, Nitration, Sulfation

Lubricating oil at elevated temperatures can react with oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, as well as sulfur in fuel, to form undesirable by-products that can affect the oil’s viscosity and lead to corrosion or damage of equipment.

Contamination

Fuel Dilution

Fuel dilution in oil is a condition caused by excess, unburned fuel mixing with engine oil in an engine crankcase. Hydrocarbon-based fuel, usually with a lower vapor pressure than the lubricant, has a thinning effect, lowering the oil viscosity. Oil film strength is reduced, increasing the cylinder liner and bearing wear.

Glycol

Glycol is found in engine coolant. If glycol is found in engine oil it typically indicates there is a leak in the engine that can cause catastrophic damage to the cylinder or cylinder wall.

Soot

Soot is a product of combustion and has always been found in engine oils. Soot can use up an oil’s additives and deposit on vital engine surfaces.

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