Tagged: training

Varnish Badges of Honour

Varnish Badges_honour

Varnish is widely known as a primary culprit of equipment failure. This sticky enemy effectively finds its way into most of our equipment and causes operators, maintenance personnel and plant managers a series of nightmares. From unplanned shutdowns costing millions of dollars to sticking of servo valves on startup, or increases in bearing temperature, varnish usually announces its arrival. Once it has been found, there is typically a cause for panic but perhaps it just needs to be understood rather than feared?

 

The ICML VPR & VIM Badges

Recently (August, 2021), the International Council for Machinery Lubrication launched two new badges. These badges are, VIM (Varnish & Deposit Identification and Measurement) & VPR (Varnish & Deposit Prevention & Removal). These were created after the culmination of 3 years of work from the global varnish test development committee. It has been designed for those involved in all aspects of managing or advising lubricant programs especially those with the responsibility of recommending, selling or installing appropriate deposit control equipment or other mitigation strategies.

Most of the readers will already be familiar with my enthusiasm for understanding lubricant degradation. Thus, when these badges came out, I knew I had to secure them! While the requirements for taking the test suggest the possession of the MLT I or MLA I certification or 1 year of experience, I figured that my MLE certification would be an asset (as I haven’t gotten my MLT I certification yet, it’s on the list!). However, I wanted to make sure that I covered all of the elements in the BoK for both the VIM & VPR badges, so naturally I turned to the varnish guru himself, Greg Livingstone!

 

Fluid Learning – All the way!

Greg is the CIO at Fluitec but he’s also the facilitator for the ICML VPR & VIM badges. What a treat! If you’ve never heard the name Greg Livingstone then you’re obviously not in the lubrication field. Greg has penned hundreds of papers on varnish and can be thought of as the varnish guru since he has extensive experience in this area. It’s a no brainer that I chose Fluid Learning to get me up to speed on what I needed to know for these exams!

Greg was an amazing facilitator and not only covered information relevant to the BoK for the exams but gave students a full overview about everything you needed to know about varnish. These on demand sessions kept me scribbling notes and nodding to myself and saying, “Oh that’s what really happens!” He presents the information clearly and adds some much needed humour into the sessions. It was an absolute privilege having him as my tutor for these badges.

 

VPR & VIM- What you need to know!

Varnish Badges_need-to-know

VPR - Varnish & Deposit Prevention and Removal

The VPR badge ensures that candidates understand proactive methods and technologies which can be employed to reduce the degree of degradation. It is also designed to confirm that they can sufficiently evaluate combinations of technologies to prevent and remove varnish including the proper steps to set up and implement an effective varnish removal system.

The topics covered in the VPR include:

  • Problems associated with Varnish & Deposits (20%)
  • Factors affecting Breakdown (28%)
  • Proactive Methods that can be used to minimize oil breakdown (16%)
  • Methods / Technologies that can be used to remove oil breakdown products and/or prevent deposits (36%)

The complete BoK for the VPR badge can be found here.

 

VIM (Varnish & Deposit Identification & Measurement)

The VIM badge on the other hand is more ideally suited for personnel responsible for recommending suitable oil analysis tests and mitigation efforts related to the deposit tendencies of various in-service fluids (application dependent). They would also be responsible for monitoring and adjusting these strategies accordingly.

The topics covered in VIM include:

  • Problems associated with Varnish and Deposits (20%)
  • Varnish and Deposit Composition (24%)
  • How Breakdown Products / Contaminants become Deposits (24%)
  • Oil Analysis Techniques that can be used to gauge Breakdown and Propensity towards Deposit Formation (32%)

The complete BoK for the VIM badge can be found here.

 

Exam tips!

Varnish Badges_exam_tips

The actual exams for both the VPR & VIM are set at 45 minutes with 25 multiple choice questions. Candidates must achieve 70% grade to attain the badges. Currently, the fee for the exam is USD75. Since there were overlaps of the content and the exam durations weren’t that long, I decided to sit both exams in one day. I will only advise this for those who are comfortable with doing this as exam anxiety and all that comes along with it can be stressful!

Here are a couple tips for taking these exams:

  • Log into the system 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. This allows you to clear your mind, settle yourself and gives you an extra 15 minutes to figure out where the email is with your credentials! If you can’t remember your password to login to the system, this also gives you enough time to get that reset and sorted before the actual exam time.
  • The session only opens 15 minutes before the appointed time. During this time, you will converse with the moderator as they do the checks of the room and your National Identification. The moderators will engage with you and ensure that you are sitting the correct exam.
  • Ensure you have your National Identification on hand (your passport can be used as well). As long as it has your picture and the expiration date on the same side, it will be acceptable. For the Trinidadians, do not use your National ID card as we have our pictures on the front with the information on the back (I used my Driver’s permit).
  • Candidates have the option of “Flagging” questions to come back to them later. This is a great tool to help you to mark those questions you want to return to or double check.
  • There is a timer in the screen layout which helps you to keep track of your time. 45 minutes passes very quickly when you’re running through the questions!
  • Exam results for these badges come back very quickly as much as within a few hours or one day depending on the time of your exam.

Why do you need these badges?

Varnish Badges_need-badges

As long as you work within the lubrication sector or interface with machines requiring lubrication, then you need to get these badges! Oil degradation occurs throughout the life of the lubricant whether it’s a small or large operation. By understanding how it degrades and ways to mitigate that degradation, you can save your equipment and avoid unwanted downtime. These badges were designed for the personnel in the field to allow them to make decisions regarding the lubricant and to empower them in taking steps to avoid degradation or mitigate it should the need arise. Consider it as getting your passport stamped by the ICML!

The courses offered by Fluid Learning are perfect for those seeking to understand lubrication deposits, what causes them and how they can be mitigated. While the content covered during these sessions align with the ICML VPR & VIM badges, they also add to a more holistic approach to varnish and deposits. Fluid Learning is an official ICML Training Partner and is currently the only one (of which I am aware) offering training prep for these badges. I highly recommend them for anyone seeking to learn more about or avoid sticky varnish situations. 

At the moment of writing this article, there are only 8 people globally who have acquired these badges from ICML. I am the first female in the world to attain these badges but I will not be the only female for very long. Varnish is an issue which affects us all and we need to understand it, so we can prevent it and keep our equipment safe. I hope to see many more candidates with these badges in the near future!

Used Oil Analysis Tips

oil_sample

“When should an oil sample really be taken?”

In used oil analysis, oil samples can be taken at any time, but one should always consider the insight that they are trying to gain before testing the sample. This is crucial in deciding the type of tests and the intervals at which they should be performed.

 

For instance, if we are testing the quality of the oil or we want to compare a fresh batch to a used one, then we can take a sample directly from the drum.

If we are trying to decide the rate at which the additives are being depleted or wear being accumulated then we can take a sample at different operating hours to trend the data. This method can work if we are trying to determine the most appropriate run time for a lubricant in particular conditions.

However, if we are trying to track the health of the components on a regular basis as part of our PM program then taking a sample at the end of the scheduled maintenance interval is desired.

Taking an oil sample from a component is like performing a blood test by the doctor. It helps us to understand what’s really happening. It can show us if there is excessive wear, contamination or lubricant degradation which allows us to identify its “health”. However, the correct tests need to be carried out to determine these conditions.

There must be a reason behind taking the oil sample, not just a random act. When trying to establish a trend regarding a particular aspect of the oil, this should guide your choice of tests otherwise we can end up paying for tests that do not add value.

Always ensure sound reasoning behind testing rather than just checking the box!

While taking an oil sample at the end of the scheduled operating hours is very convenient, is it truly efficient?

When a piece of equipment is scheduled for maintenance, it is usually taken out of service for a couple of hours to perform the assigned
maintenance tasks.

However, if an oil sample is taken a couple days in advance of the scheduled maintenance, then when the results return the maintenance team can be on the lookout for issues highlighted by the results.

For instance, if the value for iron was significant or rising then they can perform inspections for areas which may cause this type of wear and address this challenge while the equipment is offline.

The graphic on the side can be used as a quick guide to determining when to take a sample.

Remember to always evaluate the reason behind establishing the sampling frequency before scheduling sampling.

sampling_freq

Lubricant Deterioration Identifications

What the difference between Shelf Life and Service Life?

There’s a major difference between Shelf life and Service life especially when it concerns lubricants!

No one wants to put expired lubricants into their equipment! This can cause unexpected failures which can lead to unplanned downtime which can continue to spiral down the costly path of unproductivity!

shelf_life_service_life

Shelf Life

The Shelf life is usually what is stamped by the Manufacturer indicating the length of time the product can remain in its current packaging before being deemed unsuitable for use. These can typically be found on the packaging.

Service Life

The Service life however is determined by the application and conditions under which the lubricant is being used. Usually, estimated running hours / mileage are given by the equipment manufacturer in the maintenance section of the manual. (Condition monitoring can also be used to determine appropriate service intervals.)

However, how will someone know if the product has deteriorated while still in its original packaging?  What should someone typically look for?

Above are some tips for identification of deterioration in lubricants. Take a note of these for the next time you are unsure of the integrity of your lubricants.

Electrostatic Spark Discharge

ESD

What is Electrostatic Spark Discharge?

Electrostatic Spark Discharge is real and extremely common for turbine users!

Static electricity at a molecular level is generated when dry oil passes through tight clearances.

It is believed that the static electricity can build up to a point whereby it produces a spark.

There are three stages of ESD.

1. Static Electricity builds up to produce a spark – Temperatures exceed 10,000°C and the lubricant begins to degrade significantly.

2. Free radicals form – These contribute to the polymerisation of the lubricant

3. Uncontrolled polymerisation – Varnish and sludge produced (some may remain in solution or deposit on surfaces) which can also result in elevated fluid degradation and the presence of insoluble materials.

Grease Thickener Types

grease_thickener_app

Grease Thickener Properties

We keep speaking about each grease being different based on their thickener type. However, what are the properties that these thickeners give to the grease?

For instance, if I wanted to use a grease for a roller bearing in a very high temperature environment which should I choose?

Can a multipurpose grease work for that application?

Each area of application may be different and while multipurpose greases are widely used there are some areas where it doesn’t add much value. For example, if a heavy equipment operator uses a backhoe to dig into a river, the multipurpose grease can be easily washed off.

When the grease washes off quickly, the pins holding the bucket can become damaged. (The costs to repair or replace one of these pins are ridiculously high!) However, if he used a Calcium based grease, then there wouldn’t be an issue of water washout and the pins could have a longer life.

Above is a table indicating the various uses of greases based on the thickener types. Know your applications and their environments when choosing the right grease!

Grease colours

grease_colour

Is Grease Color important?

I’ve almost always heard my customers refer to the grease that they are using by its colour.They would say, “I’m using the blue grease.”

However, greases are not defined by their colour.

Colour is often added to grease to allow it to be easily identifiable within the field.

For instance, if a grease is coloured blue, it is easy to identify if it’s leaking or not (one way not to confuse the leak with an oil leak).

Some greases are coloured to ensure that the applicant uses it in the correct application.

For example, if a blue grease is a multipurpose grease then this ideally shouldn’t be used in the very high temperature area.

Most of the times, red greases are used for high temperature applications. Thus making it easy to identify if the correct grease is used in the right application.

However, one should note the colours of the greases being used in their facility and their applications before comparing them to that of another facility (which may be using a different grease manufacturer.)

Don’t define greases by their colours, define them by their applications!

Different colours greases

Lubrication Audit?

Audits usually get people nervous! They are worried about what the auditor may or may not find. When we perform lubrication audits, we’re trying to ensure that your equipment is using exactly what it should to perform efficiently.

Why is that necessary? We’ve found that in most organizations, there may have been a time when the OEM recommended lubricant was not readily available and a substitute was used instead. Once the substitute has been used, it magically becomes the recommended lubricant for the rest of the life of the component.

However, if proper checks were not done initially, then the component could be using the wrong lubricant for most of its life. This can contribute to downtime and replacement of parts before their actual useful life has been reached.

Once, we found a gearbox using an ISO 680 gear oil when it should have used an ISO 320 oil. This gearbox used the wrong oil for 30 years! It greatly impacted the efficiency of the gearbox and they experienced numerous breakdowns throughout its life but they never understood or dared to look at the lubricant.

Always ensure that you have the OEM recommended lubricants for your components!

PROACT Review

Root Cause Analysis has always been dear to my heart. The procedure involved in finding the root causes and addressing them have intrigued me greatly as it involves using all your data gathering and cognitive skills. In the past, it was a bit difficult to properly perform RCAs since it usually meant jumping around different types of software. For instance, depending on the type of analysis that I wanted carry out, I would either use a Fish Bone Diagram or Cause and Effect Logic Tree. Depending on the type that I needed to use, I would have to switch programs just to get these generated. Then, there’s the issue of writing the final report and utilizing my expert copy and paste skills with Microsoft word while toggling excel worksheets to determine the costs attached to the failure.

Needless to say, I was very impressed when introduced to the PROACT software. It has an extremely friendly user interface (in some cases, I can even use drag and drop options!) which is very easy to navigate even for a beginner like me at the time. What I really love about the software is that it bridges the gaps and guides users (both for beginners and experts) on the RCA process. By allowing users to follow a step a by step process it ensures that users don’t forget vital pieces of information that are absolutely critical to the RCA.

If you are familiar with RCA, you will be aware that the basis of any RCA is properly establishing the Severity of the failures. As such, the first step when the user enters the software, is the assigning of the Severity of the failure with the Severity Calculator. This calculator can even be customized for varying applications! Afterwards, the profile of the failure is then defined. This profile allows the user to identify elements that may have been forgotten if the RCA was being done from scratch. The Severity Calculator also allows users to determine the type of analysis that is fit for the severity index. Depending on the severity, the user can be guided to use either; 5 Whys, Fish Bone Diagrams or Cause and Effect Logic Trees. This is definitely one key advantage since it allows for different forms of analysis based on the severity.

Next the Critical Success Factors are inserted. The strategic placement for the input of these factors at this point in the analysis is purely genius! It forces the user to determine which factors directly impact them and these are usually placed on the final report. These CSFs start shaping the pending RCA into the mould that we need. Once these CSFs are established, then the objectives need to be defined. These help the analyst in guiding their RCA and ensuring that it is kept focused. It is easy to become distracted when performing these types of analyses since users are presented with an abundance of information. The definition of these aspects help the analyst to keep on track.

As with any RCA, there must be a team involved. The PROACT software allows users to delegate different tasks to different team members! It can even track the status of these events. Instead of sending long reminder emails (which tend to choke one’s inbox and can be easily missed), it is essentially easier to view the status of the assigned tasks using the PROACT software. This is a definite advantage of the software!

Now to the core of the software, the development of the RCA! Users are allowed to define the event that lead to the failure. Here’s where the software gets very interesting!!! Users can pull from existing templates dependent on the type of failure! This is the highlight of the PROACT software for a user like myself! It is very interesting to view templates (there are over 300 templates) of common failures and compare these to what the user has actually experienced. It allows the user to be able to access years of experience of a consultant at their fingertips! The team at Reliability Center Inc have definitely put a lot of work into developing these templates and have drawn upon their actual field experience for the past30+ years! This is the absolute game changer for the software!

During the building (or growing) of the Cause and Effect Tree, the user is allowed to authenticate their hypotheses and can attach pictures from the failure as verification for ruling out or accepting that mode as one of the root causes. These pictures can then be input into the final report without the need for cropping, cutting and pasting and all the exciting formatting issues that tend to occur when trying to include pictures in the final report.

PROACT also allows for users to input financial data. Another game changer for me! Users can define the costs associated with the downtime for particular failures, repair costs or even manpower costs. These all help to put a financial value on the cost of the failure being investigated. This neat trick is crucial for the review by upper management! Additionally, the final steps in any of the RCAs is to determine recommendations for the latent causes that were determined. These will be the courses of action to be taken to prevent failures of this nature from occurring in the future.

Overall, the PROACT software is indeed a time saver, keeps excellent track of the findings and collections of the investigation at hand and produces a very succinct, detailed report that anyone from upper management to the engineers can clearly understand. I love working with this software and my clients are always very impressed that this type of software actually exists and is so easy to use! I would highly recommend any user (novice or expert) in the reliability field to use the software in their everyday tasks and realize the impact that it has on increasing the efficiency of RCAs and their ROIs to their organizations.

More information can be found at www.reliability.com

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