Gregory Poole, a Raleigh, NC-based Caterpillar equipment dealer, celebrated receiving its one-millionth fluid sample on Dec. 1, an achievement illustrating the tremendous growth the company’s fluid analysis lab has experienced over the past six years.
“It took 22 years to reach half a million samples,” said Bill Wolf, Gregory Poole’s S•O•S fluid analysis lab manager, “but it only took six years to get the second half million.”
Over the past several years, Gregory Poole has invested into the lab hundreds of thousands of dollars in new instrumentation and technology. As part of Caterpillar’s S•O•S fluid analysis program, the lab tests fluid samples from various equipment compartments –– engines, coolant systems, transmissions, hydraulics and gearboxes.
Wolf believes the rapid increase in samples is a result of Gregory Poole’s dedication to improving the lab and backing the fluid analysis concept. “Gregory Poole made a commitment to have a top-notch fluid program by upgrading the lab to a state-of-the-art facility. They’ve developed an excellent program and support its use.”
Used as a diagnostic tool, the tests not only focus on fluid condition but also on component condition, maintenance and operating practices. Receiving an average of 400 fluid samples a day, the lab interpreters provide a description of a problem and recommend corrective actions. An analysis, which can be completed in 24 hours, can determine coolant leaks, fuel dilution, abnormal wear or corrosion.
“It’s like a doctor taking a blood sample. A person can feel fine going into the office, but the blood test can diagnose a problem that they might not know exists,” Wolf said. “This makes correcting a problem a lot cheaper and possibly prevents future complications.”
Fluid samples are obtained during routine machine maintenance, recording what the equipment looks like when running normally. When an analysis differs from the norm, the problem is researched and corrective action recommended, limiting downtime and costly repairs.
Catching problems early gives customers the ability to schedule downtime into their workload and better manage their budget. It also allows fleet managers to assess whether equipment with increasing wear trends will last until the job is completed or until other equipment can be made available.
“Ultimately, [the lab’s] about improving customer satisfaction,” said Wolf. “With the rising cost of equipment, customers have a need for proper maintenance, making early detection a high priority.”
During oil analysis, the S•O•S lab employs a particle counter with a laser diode detector to count the number and size of particles in an oil sample. Sounds complicated, but the information is critical when determining whether excessive wear or dirt entry is taking place. It is coupled with wear metal analysis, which determines if certain elements like copper or sodium are present. Lab technicians also test for oil degradation and fluid entry. A coolant analysis determines a sample’s glycol percentage, pH (acid) level, conductivity and amount of corrosion inhibitor.
Gregory Poole receives samples from several other Caterpillar dealers and receives customer samples from all over the country.
For more information, call 800/451-7278 or visit www.gregorypoole.com.