Fluid Lab in a Suitcase

April 16, 2015
A laboratory-in-a-suitcase offers an efficient method for making fluid change/filtration decisions based on actual fluid condition, rather than time-in-service or other arbitrary measures.

The best way to maintain a hydraulic system is to make fluid change/filtration decisions based on actual fluid condition, rather than time-in-service or other arbitrary measures. Using a “laboratory-in a-suitcase,” such as the OCM 01 Condition Monitoring System from Eaton’s Internormen Product Line, in the field helps facilitate that process.

Portable contamination assessment instruments, such as this OCM 01 condition monitoring system, provide instant indication of a hydraulic system’s fluid cleanliness.

It’s flexible enough to work in either suction or pressure mode, and can handle traditional bottle samples. The compact machine can measure:

• Contamination classes according to ISO 4406:99, SAE AS 4059, NAS 1638 protocols

• Dynamic viscosity in MPa-s

• Temperature in °C and °F

• Water saturation in % and for certain fluids, the theoretical absolute water content in ppm

• Relative dielectricity

Users get simultaneous instant readings of particulate contamination and fluid aging with a single measurement using calibrated in-line sensors. The system’s color LCD display and software guide an operator through the calibration and test procedure. It also features integral data-storage capabilities, the ability to write to USB flash drives, and communication with other customer systems via LabVIEW-based software and an RS-232 interface.

In practice, the system suited for documenting the condition of any new system, any system that has been opened to the atmosphere for maintenance, or immediately after fluid replacement, to provide a baseline that’s used to compare with future readings. Then, the system is periodically re-tested according to a schedule based on operating experience and the cleanliness recommendations of various component manufacturers.

It’s worth noting that condition monitoring is an important tool for extending the life of equipment other than hydraulic systems. Eaton’s Internormen OCM 01, for example, can be used to test foamed oils in the lubrication systems of large gearboxes typically found in wind-power nacelles, ships, and steel works.

Justin Bitner is Product Specialist at Eaton Corp., Filtration Div., Tinton Falls, N. J. For more information, call (732) 212-4700, or visit

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