Why Contamination in Fluids Causes Equipment Failure

The two leading types of contamination in oil are particulates and water. Dirt and contaminants are the leading causes of hydraulic system failures. To protect equipment and extend operating life, operators must employ new filtration technologies capable of removing the wear contamination that damages critical systems down to 4 microns and below.

  • Today’s material quality, design and machinery function at a high level; the tolerances for rotating equipment components are precise. Quality bearings and servo valves for pneumatic and hydraulic systems have a 1µ tolerance.
  • Traditional full flow filtration is challenged to clean wear contamination <10µ because custom filtration for this capability is expensive and requires frequent changeout. The alternative, bypass filtration, is helpful on many applications however is expensive and requires a full flow rate to be effective.
  • OEI magnetic filtration technology is an alternative, it attracts ferrous wear particles down to 4 microns and below with up to 95+% efficiency.

The Chain Reaction of Broken Down Equipment

Interrupting and restarting production consumes more energy and profit due to inefficient operations. Effective filtration will extend maintenance intervals, extend operating life, reduce labour, and prevent downtime.

What are wear particles?

Contaminants in oil are typically measured in microns (one millionth of a meter) which is equal to 0.000039 inches. Since the human eye cannot detect wear particles less than 40 microns, almost all of the damage caused in equipment comes from contaminants in the fluid that we can’t even see. Research has proven that the wear particles that damage the most are under 4 microns. Conventional filters rarely catch contaminants less than 30 microns.

Sources of Wear Contamination

  • Formations where the oil was produced
  • The machining and manufacturing processes of system components
  • Air ingression
  • Initial break-in of equipment (break in wear)

ISO Fluid Cleanliness Standards

ISO fluid cleanliness standards are no longer relevant because of advances in the machining and manufacturing of equipment components. ISO recommended fluid cleanliness ratings do not account for the most damaging wear particles under 4 microns. ISO standards are communicated with a three-number coding system. In 1987, the clean fluid standard for responsible heavy equipment maintenance and operation was set at 18/16/13. Heavy equipment manufacturing has advanced considerably since 1987.

ISO standard: 18/16/13
In a 1 ml sample of oil:
18 represents 1300 – 2500 particles between 4 and 6 μ
16 represents 320 – 640 particles between 6 and 16 μ
13 represents 40 – 80 particles over 16 μ

Equipment Requires Fluids to be 4x Cleaner than ISO Standards

Industry mining leaders require fluid cleanliness specifications for their heavy-duty equipment not to exceed 16/13/8.

Proactive, Preventative, & Predictive Maintenance

  • Employ quality fluids and lube oils designed for the application and environment.
  • Employ quality filtration on all applications that ensures filtration of particulate below 1 micron.
  • Manage equipment with a predictive maintenance program which utilizes quality analysis of fluids and lube oils to identify wear contamination.

Cost Control with Fluid Management

Extend Life of Critical Systems
Protect critical systems against wear contamination to prevent equipment failure and component replacement.

Reduce Waste Materials and Supplies
Invest in industry-leading, reusable filtration as the alternative to depth-media filtration and ultimately a reduction or elimination of filter elements. Each filter produces 5-10 percent fluid loss which carries additional costs of fluid replacement and associated labour.

Extend Fluid Life
Contaminated fluids are the source of component wear, which is the source of equipment failure. Employing quality filtration prevents frequent wholesale oil disposal and replacement.

Reduce Downtime and Lost Production
Employing a reliability program centered around quality filtration reduces costs associated with oil changes, system failures, labour intensive maintenance and unscheduled maintenance. Predicting and preventing unplanned maintenance ultimately adds to every businesses’ bottom line.