One of the challenges faced when a lubricant becomes contaminated is that it affects the entire machinery system. This means the whole system needs to be flushed to prevent further damage to costly equipment. Lubrication Engineers (LE) offers a solution in the form of a “kidney-loop” filtration cart.
“Filtration carts are useful for several applications,” explains Callum Ford, National Marketing Manager at LE South Africa. “They can be used for decontaminating systems, flushing new or repaired systems, dispensing or pre-filtering new oil, evacuating used oil, topping off reservoirs or collecting oil samples for analysis.”
Ford says the filtration cart is often LE’s first step in solving a problem for a client. “We’ll get complaints of machinery issues that point to lubrication contamination, like high operating temperatures, loud operating noises or unusual vibrations, and we’ll know we need to do an oil analysis,” he says. “We find that 80% of the time, the oil needs to be cleaned, rather than replaced, so we run the kidney loop system to do this. It mechanically separates out any water or particles (we normally use a 3-5 micron filter) in the system, preventing further damage to the machinery.”
Different sizes of filters are available, depending on the system, from 3 microns for hydraulic systems to 20 microns for engines or gearboxes (to avoid filtering out the beneficial additives in the lubricants used in these systems).
LE advises that any sealed, lubricated component should be flushed before or shortly after start-up (not just hydraulic systems). In fact, Ford says, offline filtration can be much more effective at eliminating run-in debris than changing the oil at the first scheduled interval.
“Once we’ve set up the cart to decontaminate the system, we start to look for the cause of the contamination,” he says. “This could be anything from not having a breather installed on the system to a part (like a pump, motor or piping) having been replaced, which can introduce contaminants into the system. It might be something as simple as the cleaning procedures – if a machine is getting hosed down with water, it can get into the system. Once we’ve filtered the lubricant, diagnosed the problem and fixed it, we run the machinery and then do another analysis to check that everything has been sorted out.”
Although filter carts were designed for system decontamination, LE believes they are also the best way to cleanly dispense and transfer new oil to machinery or other transfer containers. In addition to providing a suitable level of cleanliness for new oil applications, it is also a safer, more efficient way to transfer new oil compared to traditional methods. If a reservoir is appropriately equipped, oil additions or oil changes may be performed without ever exposing the sump to atmospheric contamination.
The LE filter cart is designed for filtering mineral-based industrial oils and most synthetic oils with a maximum operating viscosity range of ISO 680 at 100°F (38°C) (3,000 ssu / 648 cSt) within ambient temperature ranges of -15 to 150°F (-26 to 66°C).