Condition monitoring, oil analysis critical to engine life

Hydraulic components are some of the most expensive and important fitted to any machine. Ensuring their reliability is of paramount importance to the efficiency of any quarrying operation.
Oil and fluid analysis, with a proper condition monitoring system, is the most effective way to monitor wear and tear.
Komatsu Australia recognised some years ago the need for such a service, establishing Komatsu Oil and Wear Analysis (KOWA).
Several millions of dollars have been invested in three state of the art laboratories in Perth, Brisbane and Newcastle. These sites were strategically located to provide a fast turnaround of samples.
The KOWA process involves taking a sample of oil, coolant or fuel from a machine (usually prior to servicing) which is forwarded to one of the labs for an in-depth analysis of its chemical properties, and breakdown of the impurities contained in the oil.
The analysis provides critical details of exactly which internal components are wearing ? and at which rate ? using data gathered during the machine?s working life.
KOWA is the linchpin of Komatsu?s Condition Monitoring Service (CMS), a complete service provided to Komatsu customers designed to maximise the life cycle and in-field availability of any machine.
Importantly, CMS and KOWA services are not restricted to Komatsu machinery, as they can be applied to any make or model of machine.
As Australia?s largest factory-backed equipment provider, Komatsu recognised the needs of mixed fleet operators, training specific customer support sales representatives in the CMS programme.
As no two sites or machines are the same, Komatsu representatives tailor CMS programmes to suit each application.
Over time, the total life of a component (eg an engine) can be accurately predicted. This allows the operator to alter the working conditions of the machine to prolong its life. 
Predicting the eventual life of a component also gives operators the ability to schedule downtime for a machine, ie to replace worn components before they fail, which can cause untold damage at significant extra cost.
Each received oil sample is processed immediately when received at the lab, and once processed, customers receive reports either online or in hard copy.
Importantly, any abnormal wear or unusual contamination dates picked up in the test are immediately reported to the operator so measures can be taken to prevent damage.
In the mining market, for example, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved with the sampling of just one oil change ? and in harsh economic times, the returns to any operation are clear.
According to Daniel Hopkins-Jones, Komatsu Australia?s business development manager for consumables, Komatsu?s CMS is like ?a blood test for your machine?.
?No other service can detect trend changes in the wear of a component – or contaminant problems as accurately as KOWA,? he said.
?In the lab, we identify microscopic contaminants or deposits in your lubricants, coolant, grease or fuel, and then run these results against your machine history to attribute specific wear trends,? he said.
Daniel added that the Komatsu CMS programme could be applied to machines no matter what age, and could also be tailored to suit machines in which replacement parts had been fitted, providing the quality of the samples taken was maintained.
?Cleanliness is the key to taking an accurate sample, and making the most of the CMS programme,? he said.
?Taking an accurate data sample is too easy with the simple, user-friendly KOWA sampling kit, making it ready for dispatch to the lab.
?It?s important the technician taking the sample fills out the sample card accurately so the laboratory can provide accurate results as quickly as possible.
?This preventative programme is a real value for money proposition that has proven itself in the field time and time again, saving many a customer not only in downtime, but costly repairs resulting from total component failure,? he said.
For more information on the Komatsu CMS programme, visit 
Source: Komatsu Australia Customer Service Division/The Project Group

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