Adding a new piece of equipment or specialized instrumentation to your facility has the potential to add significant value to your product. Whether it be in the quality assurance or manufacturing process, adding a new instrument may save the company time, money, and increase the overall quality of your product. However, adding a new method of analysis of your product requires learning new testing procedures and developing new testing parameters. This learning curve may be the primary focus of the operator, but other tasks are important to keep in mind while adjusting to your new instrument. Tasks such as general maintenance and calibration checks should be practiced regularly to ensure the accuracy of your instrument as well as preserving the longevity for years to come.
During the course of testing, it’s inevitable that samples will be spilled and the instrument will get dirty. If the operator is using a Loss-on-drying instrument such as the MAX® 4000XL or MAX® 5000XL then there is increased chance of spilling sample onto the instrument due to the open chamber available to the user. Fortunately, these instruments are designed for this type of treatment. However, continuous build-up of material can leave the instrument looking undesirable and if the material is hazardous, it may even become dangerous for the operator. Personal health, instrument damage and accuracy of results could be negatively affected by this build up and is therefore recommended by Arizona Instrument LLC, that the operator uses a Shop-Vac® or other nozzle based vacuum cleaner between shifts. If the material being tested is a liquid or a gel, then the instrument should be wiped down with a cleaning agent, such as Formula 409® between shifts. If the material is hazardous then it should be cleaned immediately using the proper procedure described on the material MSDS.
When using the MAX® 5000XL as a loss on ignition application, it is quite common for soot to build up within the test chamber. If a significant amount of soot is observed, be sure to utilize the ‘Self Oven Cleaning’ setting. In order to use this setting, first select ‘Self Oven Cleaning’ setting under the Calibration menu. The message on the screen will prompt the operator to remove the pan and pan support prior to beginning the program. As soon as the pan and pan support are carefully removed from the chamber, hit start and allow the instrument to run for 45 minutes (instrument begins countdown automatically). The instrument maintains a temperature of 550° C during this time, which allows any residue to bake off the chamber walls. Self-oven cleaning is recommended as needed for samples that regularly produce a full bodied plume of smoke or thick residue within the chamber.
No matter what instrument being used or the material type being tested, it is a good idea to make sure the instrument is working properly. For the MAX® 4000XL and MAX® 5000XL, this can be performed by using a preprogrammed test labeled as ‘Weight Test’. For this verification, the operator uses a 5g and 3 g weight. Once the test has started, the operator places both weights on the balance as prompted and closes the lid. The instrument will calculate the initial weight (8 g) and then begin testing. After the test has begun, open the lid and remove the 3g weight. Removing 3 grams from a total of 8 grams (3g + 5g) leaves you with a simulated loss on drying event of 37.50% ± 0.02%. This is a quick verification that your instrument is measuring weight loss accurately and should ideally be performed daily to ensure accurate results.
Following a maintenance and calibration schedule for your instruments may seem like an extra step in your busy day, but is well worth it in the long run. This will optimize your instrument’s performance and give you peace of mind that your instrument is working properly and accurately. This will reduce downtime, and ensure the quality of your product.