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Fluid Analysis Pays Off for Ports ben lee

Some ports are turning their attention to fluid cleanliness in order to save themselves large sums of money each year.

Not only can fluid condition monitoring be used on hydraulic oil but it can also be applied to engine oil.  Service plans can be devised to match the condition of the machine, which can predict faults before they occur and can extend the life of both hydraulic system and engines.


For example, the Port of Tacoma in Washington has been testing hydraulic fluid since 1994. They originally had costs of $45.52 per hour just for maintenance but since initiating their fluid cleanliness program, they were able to cut costs by as much 97%.


The 75-gallon reservoirs on their straddle carriers and lift trucks were the first to undergo the testing. With tyres that are 6ft in diameter, you can imagine how large these machines are. They use ISO 46 hydraulic fluid from Chevron.


Their approach went like this:


Particle Counting

The contaminants and their size were first worked on through particle counting. Using the two measures provided by the ISO 4406 framework – the count of how many particles were 5-µm and greater in size and how many were 15-µm and greater. This system delivers two numbers ie 17/15 which provides a range of the number of the particles.


Setting a target cleanliness level, the port authority decided that measurements of 14/11 and 15/13 were suitable for their straddle carriers and lift trucks. The first test produced fairly high results, so the port authority realised that they could extend the life span of their machines by a considerable amount, based purely on reducing the particulate contamination.


Hydraulic filtration system

A filtration system was installed that was highly effective at capturing particles. This is something that made a huge difference to maintenance costs.


Engines also benefit

The port authority then focused their attention on engines and also set cleanliness targets along with new filtration systems. This resulted in an extended oil change interval in addition to an extension to eh engine overhaul periods.


Overall the investment paid off and they cut their maintenance costs by a dramatic figure in addition to cutting downtime.

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