Earlier this year, Technology Showcase reviewed the test-and-analysis sector by covering some of the products and tools that maintenance professionals use in the areas of thermography, vibration analysis, shaft alignment and others.* This month, we focus on third-party test services and the growing importance of this sector to manufacturers in the areas of equipment health and product compliance.
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Among the many reasons manufacturers use test and analysis services, lubrication and oil analysis may be the most common. Long understood as an accurate way to determine equipment condition, oil analysis enjoys greater exposure today as more end-users invest in maintenance activities to reduce operational costs and extend equipment life.
Oil testing involves some or all of the following three actions: reconfiguration of machinery to allow samples to be taken; team training on the importance of sampling and the procedures required to take samples; and choosing a lab that can provide an analysis within a reasonable timeframe. Of these steps, choosing and working with a lab can require the most attention to detail, say experts, due to the potential for poor communication and misunderstood expectations.
Maintenance teams must know what they need from an analysis—not just oil condition, for example, but signs of equipment condition and possible failure—and provide enough detail to the lab to ensure they get it. Most labs are equipped to provide in-depth information on a wide range of machinery and systems. ASTM- or ISO-certified procedures afford the highest levels of accuracy and standardization, and are the most costly.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed in 2008, is another reason manufacturers turn to third-party test services. Provisions of this federal law, which went into effect in January of this year, require makers of products and packaging that will be used or handled by children (those under age 12) to have these items tested and certified that they do not contain certain harmful substances, particularly lead.
Tens of thousands of products are affected by the CPSIA, from toys and video games to school supplies and clothing. Fines of up to $100,000 per incident have been approved for manufacturers and retailers. And while this law assigns responsibility throughout the supply chain, the burden falls on manufacturers to ensure that their products meet CPSIA standards.
For comprehensive information on testing, certification and CPSIA compliance, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Website: www.cpsc.gov. MT
Rick Carter, Executive Editor
*Definition determined by Maintenance Technology editorial staff.