Lessard attributed the falling LOD in
today’s analyzers to the same forces
that have been improving other electronic items: steady progress in both
software and hardware. Just as other
equipment types have shrunk while
their capabilities have increased, so
too have XRF analyzers.
“The new model is a departure in
size compared to previous models,”
he said. This is handy in a refinery or
a chemical processing plant in which
the staff needs to analyze every pipe,
valve, and flange.
“A smaller analyzer is a big benefit
because the user can get it into tight-
er, hard-to-reach areas,” Lessard said.
“It’s much easier and less expensive if
they can use it while the processes are
running. Otherwise they have to shut
down a system or a subsystem and
partially dismantle it to remove the
components that were in the way.”
At the same time, the XL5 doesn’t
just benefit from a compact size. It ac-
tually has some of the same technolo-
gies you’d find in a digital camera or a
mobile phone. Wireless technologies
such as Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi provide
connectivity to a computer back at
the office and to other XRF analyzers.
Thermo Fisher Scientific’s latest unit
is also equipped with two imaging ca-
pabilities, micro and macro.
“The microview assists in pinpointing a specific analysis location,”
Lessard said. “For example, the microview could show that the unit
analyzed a weld bead but not the surrounding material. The macroview is
helpful in that it provides an image of
the entire unit or assembly.” Both of
these images can be attached to the
Certificate of Analysis.
At the same time, the unit itself can
be tailored to provide specific functions, depending on who’s using it.
“Each user can create a unique profile,” Lessard said. “User A might have
a particular set of conditions that differ
from those of User B or User C.” Lessard
cited the work done in a quality control
department, which would focus on
specific details, as differing from the
broad, big-picture analysis needed at
the managerial level as an example.
Detecting Elements in Oil
Spectroscopy is a versatile technolo-
gy, one that has other uses anywhere
lubricants are used to keep machin-
ery humming. If lubricants could talk,
they’d spill a lot of beans about the
state of the machinery they lubricate. They can’t talk, but
spectroscopy gets answers anyway.
On one hand, the simplest application is just a matter
of analyzing the metal content of a lubricant when the lu-
bricant is new and then analyzing it on a regular schedule
after that. A gradual increase in the concentration of metal
fines is normal; a sudden increase is a sure sign of trouble,
possibly indicating a component is on the verge of failure.
On the other hand, spectroscopy can provide specific in-
formation about a machine, providing diagnostic informa-
tion. A jump in one specific alloy could indicate an impend-
ing component failure. If you know what the machine’s
components are made from—if it has titanium valve spring
retainers or copper Babbitt bearings, for example—a sud-
den change in the content of either of these alloys indi-
cates trouble and points to its origin. Accurate predictive
failure analysis is invaluable, especially in industries that
measure downtime in thousands of dollars per hour.
Finally, when the oil is finished, spectroscopy isn’t. An
XRF analysis of a container of the discarded sludge lets the
waste company know the content of it so it can determine
how to dispose of it in keeping with legal guidelines.
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., 2 Radcliff Road, Tewksbury,
MA 01875, www.thermoscientific.com/pai
DECEMBER 2015 The FABRICATOR 59
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