Beyond the Oil Change: Routine Equipment Maintenance

Usually readily accessible, the suction screen should be checked in the routine maintenance of your equipment. During routine maintenance, the oil level should be regularly monitored and changed based on the equipment specifications. Knowing what to look for is the key to preventing problems, so below are some additional checks that can be easily performed to help your maintenance department recognize changing conditions inside the drivetrain.

Step One: Check the oil for discoloration or a burning odor. This an immediate red flag that the unit has been overheated and requires service.

Step Two: Check suction screens as a first indicator of a potential problem. Suction screens must be removed and checked at every oil change. Any material found in the screen should be studied for an impending problem. One commonly asked question: What is the average amount of metal to see from normal wear? This is difficult question to answer with transmissions, as they have wear components inside them and a baseline must be established.  You can look at the material and determine if further review is necessary.  Note: that when Oil has been changed several times without cleaning the suction screen, material buildup may be found. In this case, the suction screen shall be cleaned and reinstalled and then checked again at half the standard oil change interval.

Step Three: If one sees excessive material in the suction screen, the next recommended step is to remove and open the filter to further analyze the problem. This can be done with a simple tool (see photo below). The tool cuts the top off of the filter, enabling the technician to remove the filter media, open the pleats, and examine the contamination. Palmer Johnson recommends discussing the operating conditions of the equipment, such as oil temperatures, pressures, and any changes in operation, with the equipment operator.

Step Four: Scheduled oil sampling (SOS) is also an effective tool for monitoring the varying levels of wear within the drive-train. If SOS is not preformed regularly, this an excellent time to have the oil sampled and begin establishing a baseline. Performing SOS procedures at every oil change enables the equipment owner to clearly identify a spike in the oil/metal count and take steps to avoid costly component damage and equipment downtime.

Palmer Johnson Power Systems transmission experts often assist companies in analyzing transmission filters, suction screen material and oil sample reports.  As the authorized transmission distributor and service center for Funk Manufacturing, Dana Spicer Off-Highway, Carraro, ZF Off-highway and Twin Disc we work closely with the transmissions manufacturer’s engineers to identify where certain metals are used in the transmission.  Knowing where a metal is used can make all the difference in identifying when spikes in certain metals are related to common wear parts or are more severe and are cause for concern.