WearCheck launches bespoke grease analysis kits

Specialist condition monitoring company, WearCheck, has always performed grease analysis during routine asset health assessments, however, the company has now launched a dedicated grease testing kit.

In addition to elemental analysis and PQ (particle quantifier) tests, grease that undergoes analysis as part of the new test kits also undergoes these assessments: water by Karl Fischer, FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared), microscopic  particle examination and an image is taken of the grease.

Technical manager for WearCheck, Steven Lumley, elaborates, ‘With nearly 90 percent of all bearings being lubricated with grease, routine grease analysis is a vital part of a good predictive maintenance strategy.

‘WearCheck’s grease analysis programme is effectively used for a broad range of grease-lubricated systems operating in a wide variety of applications, including wind turbines, industrial bearings, grease-lubricated gearboxes and hubs.

‘Monitoring grease condition is a vital part of maintaining and tracking equipment reliability. It can detect lubricant break-down and aid in identifying potential problems before serious mechanical damage occurs. Corrective action can be taken before other signs of deterioration begin to show, such as increases in operating temperatures, noise, and vibrations.

‘Monitoring the condition of your grease can also provide important information on the quality of the grease, how it is performing, as well as help adjust relubrication intervals.

‘Our grease analysis programme is designed to monitor the health of the lubricant, the health of the machine and levels of contamination through a series of chemical and physical tests.

‘With routine monitoring, effective grease analysis can minimise unplanned repairs and downtime, while extending the life of your machinery,’ she said.

WearCheck’s grease testing programme includes the following tests:

Elemental analysis

An elemental analysis of the grease is performed using ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) spectroscopy. The spectrometer measures the concentration of wear metals such as iron, lubricant additives like phosphorus, thickeners like lithium and contaminants such as silicon, in the grease.

PQ (Particle Quantifier) Index 

The PQ gives a measure of the total ferrous content of the grease sample and, from this measurement, the total amount of ferrous (iron) debris can be determined irrespective of the size of the particles.

FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared)

The FTIR produces an infrared spectrum that is often referred to as the ‘fingerprint’ of the lubricant as it contains specific features of the chemical composition of the grease. The spectrum can be used to identify types of additives and trend oxidation by-products that could form as a result of high operating temperatures and thermal degradation.

Karl Fisher Moisture

Water contamination is detrimental to any lubricant and can shorten the service life of a bearing by accelerating wear. The Karl Fisher method for determining moisture content is recommended, as even small amounts of water contamination can cause corrosion, base oil degradation and additive depletion in grease.

MPE (Microscopic Particle Examination)

An MPE is performed by filtering the grease through a membrane patch of a known micron rating and examining any debris present under a microscope. The membrane patch is examined for wear, contamination and colour. An MPE can provide clues to the source of the debris and the potential severity of a problem that may be causing it.

For further information, visit www.wearcheck.co.za, email marketing@wearcheck.co.za  or call WearCheck’s head office on +27 (31) 700-5460.

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