Machine Design

Mini-monitor tests fluids

Schroeder Industries, Leetsdale, Pa. (, has developed a small particle counter that is economical enough to install on individual pieces of industrial and mobile equipment.

Edited by Kenneth Korane

The TCM has a 4-in. diameter, making it smaller than most online monitors. It tolerates vibrations on mobile machines, mounts in any orientation, and resists water and dust with an IP67 rating. The monitor handles fluid pressures to 1,450 psi (100 bar) and viscosities to 4,635 SUS (1,000 cSt).

The counter continuously monitors hydraulic-fluid cleanliness and is reportedly ideal for preventive maintenance of hydraulic fluid.

The TCM oil analyzer is among the latest generation of small-scale particle-monitors that continuously measure solid contamination in hydraulic and lubrication fluids. Measuring particulates is essential to keeping fluid clean and ensuring long machine life because dirty fluid quickly accelerates equipment wear and, ultimately, leads to more-frequent downtime and higher maintenance costs.

The TCM's advanced optical sensors and electronics let it count particles in hydraulic fluid every 30 to 300 sec, depending on user settings, and update the fluid's ISO cleanliness code approximately every minute. Results can be output according to industry standards ISO 4406: 1999 or SAE AS 4059 (D). And, in extreme cases, the device can sound alarms and trigger signals that shut down a machine if readings exceed user-defined set points.

The TCM lets hydraulics' users take advantage of predictive maintenance practices. Essentially, the unit constantly tests fluids, notes trended values and potentially troublesome changes, and lets users schedule preventive maintenance at opportune times — before dirty fluid damages the system or causes equipment failure. It counters existing practices of sporadic fluid testing by bottle sampling or expensive particle counters that must be moved to each testing location.

TCMs are used in a variety of industrial and mobile settings. For instance, OEMs use them in roll-off cleanliness programs that ensure new equipment is clean before it leaves the factory. Some users integrate the particle counter into hydraulic power units to monitor oil cleanliness, reducing maintenance, downtime, and filter costs. And leasing companies install them on hydraulic equipment. This lets owners check and verify that renters are maintaining machines properly, and charge for any necessary repairs due to contamination or improper maintenance.

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