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Fluid Analysis Helps Protect Investment in Machinery

Fri October 19, 2018 - Southeast Edition #22
Gregory Poole


The fluid analysis team at Gregory Poole (L-R): Michael Nobles, Mary-Beth Knish, Edwin Chua, Alex Flores, Andrew Stumpf, Kimberly Mullens, Katina Southerland, Norma Bolton, Maureen Summers, Bryan Clark, Perica Tadic and Joe Bousquet.
The fluid analysis team at Gregory Poole (L-R): Michael Nobles, Mary-Beth Knish, Edwin Chua, Alex Flores, Andrew Stumpf, Kimberly Mullens, Katina Southerland, Norma Bolton, Maureen Summers, Bryan Clark, Perica Tadic and Joe Bousquet.
The fluid analysis team at Gregory Poole (L-R): Michael Nobles, Mary-Beth Knish, Edwin Chua, Alex Flores, Andrew Stumpf, Kimberly Mullens, Katina Southerland, Norma Bolton, Maureen Summers, Bryan Clark, Perica Tadic and Joe Bousquet. The correct weight oil is important for maximizing component life. Here Andrew Stumpf checks the viscosity of samples. Cleanliness of fluids is vital, especially in hydraulic fluid. Shown is Kimberly Mullens performing particle count analysis An inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) excites samples to test for additives and wear metals. Edwin Chua interprets data to provide a recommendation based on the history of equipment.

“We know that customers of Gregory Poole Equipment Company have a large investment in the equipment they use, and Gregory Poole is committed to help our customers protect that investment,” said Joe Bousquet, manager of one such commitment, the S•O•S Fluid Analysis Laboratory located in Gregory Poole's Raleigh, N.C., facility.

Spacewise, the lab he manages is relatively small, about 1,000 sq. ft., but it is packed with hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of instrumentation and highly trained and experienced people. Its primary purpose is to analyze oil, coolant and diesel fuel samples to determine if this “life blood” of a customer's equipment provides information of potential problems that could adversely impact the equipment's operation or lifespan.

“The equipment is tasked to do some pretty tough work,” Bousquet said, “and the working environment is often extreme. We run the fluid samples through a battery of tests specifically designed to check for abnormal wear patterns and detect contaminants such as dirt, water, fuel, and excessive particulates. The data is reported to the customer along with an interpretation of the results that explains what the numbers mean and a recommendation on what actions the customer can take to remedy any issues detected, all with the purpose of keeping their equipment as productive as possible.”

In 2009 the lab analyzed 100,000 samples. This year it is on pace to hit 160,000, a 60 percent increase. During that same time period, it also increased the tests routinely being run with the addition of percent diesel fuel, total base number (TBN), diesel exhaust fluid, and metals in coolant.

A laboratory such as the S•O•S Fluid Analysis Laboratory requires a large number of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that specifically describe the appropriate steps involved for handling not only the analysis of the samples, but also the maintenance and calibration of the instrumentation, training and proficiency of the staff, maintaining supply stocks and reordering schedules, and monitoring the overall quality of the process.

“With the increase in sample volume and the growing complexities of the analyses required, a more structured mechanism was needed to ensure that all the necessary SOPs were in place, up to date, and readily accessible to the staff, as well as a documented quality management system [QMS] that could be audited and certified by an outside agency independent of Gregory Poole or Caterpillar,” Bousquet said.

The mechanism Gregory Poole adapted to help ensure that the lab's products and services consistently meet customers' requirements, and that quality is consistently improved, is the ISO 9001 standards. ISO is an independent, nongovernmental international organization with a membership of 161 national standard bodies, and more than 1 million companies and organizations in more 170 countries are certified to ISO 9001 standards. These standards are based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach, and continual improvement.

In 2017 the lab migrated from the ISO 9001:2008 standards it had been running under for the previous several years to the new ISO 9001:2015 standards and was recertified against those standards in June 2018.

“We are confident that the ISO 9001 standards will allow us to maintain and improve our ability to provide a product that meets or exceeds our customer's expectations and with the quality they demand, now and into the future,” Bousquet said.

For information, visit gregorypoole.com.