RTI Laboratories receives Ford Motor Company Approvals for “Test G” Analysis
In late February 2019, RTI completed the final steps in Ford transmission engineering “Test G” validation and received approvals and permissions for providing quality particle data to Ford through the tiered supply chain. This was in direct response to Ford’s call to expand commercial testing groups support of their specifications to meet program process validation timelines and ongoing production checks through collaboration with outside partners. RTI is poised to meet these challenges by offering comprehensive services and solutions in the ever-dynamic parts cleanliness programs of the automotive and heavy equipment OEMs, and adds Ford Motor Company to the list of OEM and supplier approvals.
RTI has been supplying parts cleanliness testing for the better part of the last decade. When Ford introduced the transmission parts cleanliness standard ESBC3P-7W092-BA, Test G was first referenced as a method of identifying “controlled” materials in the isolated debris fields and applied standards for limiting controlled materials in particular size classes. These controlled materials specifically are identified as residual abrasives and can be characterized by both elemental composition as well as shape filters. The Ford standard cites ISO-16232-8 as the reference standard for debris field analysis using automated SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) and EDS (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy). The Ford standard further specifies only one manufacturer of such equipment hardware/software that can perform this analysis per their required data quality objectives. RTI set out to demonstrate compliance with the standard using alternative vendor solutions while maintaining the same data quality objectives and successfully implemented a solution in June of 2017.
When the Ford transmission specific standards emerged, specifically ESLC3P-7W092-AA, the language regarding the single vendor solution was relaxed and put the onus on the service provider to demonstrate alternate vendor compliance. With the incorporation of “attachment V” in this standard in 2018, the validation procedure was described and the Ford engineering team put additional scrutiny on partner data until such time that attachment V procedures were incorporated into the testing supply chain. As a provider of the Test G service for the better part of 2 years, RTI quickly engaged with Ford transmission engineering to vet previous and current datasets and formally incorporate the validation procedure into the RTI internal Test G operating procedures. RTI successfully demonstrated capability in identifying, sizing and counting controlled materials particles in dense debris fields using no modifications of hardware and software algorithms previously utilized on client filters. In addition, no component of the Ford specified vendor solution was utilized in data generation, therefore enabling open adoption of additional vendor solutions in providing the Test G service. Working in conjunction with Ford transmission engineering, the approval was formalized and the supplier quality engineering team at Ford notified of the approval for RTI’s ability to provide Test G services to the supply chain.
Due to the above approvals, RTI is able to publicly offer this service for hire to the Ford transmission supply chain where Test G assessment is required. If the client already has a parts cleanliness program that assesses data all the way through Test E and lacks the ability to perform Test G, RTI can analyze and report on just the client supplied filters to Test G. In addition, RTI is a full service parts cleanliness lab and can assess parts cleanliness levels from cleaning and residues isolation (in an ISO class 7 cleaning facility), to gravimetric assessment of filter debris, to automated particle counting by optical microscopy and laser diffraction, to automated particle sizing, counting, and composition distribution by SEM and EDS. Additionally RTI maintains capability in discrete particle organic chemical analysis using microscopic FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) tools for help in sourcing plastic, rubber and fiber particle contamination. Finally, RTI is one of the very few commercial testing laboratories in the USA that is ISO 17025 accredited for performing testing based on the ISO-16232 standards.
About the author:
Lloyd Kaufman is Director of Materials Sciences at RTI Laboratories, a commercial testing service and solution provider located in Livonia, Michigan. Lloyd has been doing parts cleanliness testing and particle analysis and consulting for a good chunk of the 27 years he’s been in the testing industry.