Automated Lightning Viscometer for Oil Testing Supplied to WesTrac in Australia

WesTrac in Western Australia had two existing automated viscometers that were several years old, and not operating at optimal efficiency.

Laboratory technicians were required to constantly attend to these instruments, otherwise, they would quickly run out of samples to analyse.

Additionally, all of the moving parts were exposed and there was no fume extraction for the oil and solvent vapours, which posed a health and safety risk for the laboratory personnel.

WesTrac approached HF to develop an innovative solution to address their challenges, whilst reusing the existing instruments. This reduced the overall capital outlay and operator retraining for a new instrument.

An automated process was implemented by HF to improve the efficiency, speed, safety, and overall capacity of these viscometers. Both viscometers were integrated into the same module, allowing for a 40 °C and 100 °C analysis to be performed simultaneously, without requiring operators to pour a second aliquot or move the rack to another instrument.

The system incorporates a reusable pipette mounted to a high-speed XYZ transport that takes aliquots from the sample test tube and dispenses them into the correct instrument/s. It can accommodate 720 sample tubes at a time, allowing for very long periods of unattended operations i.e. overnight. 

Safety is a top priority for WesTrac, with integrated fume extraction to prevent vapours from leaking into the laboratory. All doors and drawers are mechanically interlocked while the equipment is in operation, as per AS 4024.

The design is modular, making it easy to expand and interface with additional laboratory automation and instruments in the future without expensive modifications or engineering.

These robust systems can also be easily customised to include other analytical methods and sample preparation steps if required.