While performing preventive maintenance on an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer recently I was reminded of how important the simple tasks are in preventing problems. On this particular system the card rack air filters were relatively clean and as a result of that, all of the boards in the card rack were dust free and clean. When we inspect the boards as part of a PM visit we often find that some of the components have attracted dust and dirt which in turn can cause arcing and damage on high voltage boards.
Here are some easy preventive maintenance tasks that you can perform yourself which will help to keep your X-ray photo electron, Auger electron spectroscopy or Secondary Ion Mass spectroscopy system running smoothly:
- Clean the air filters on a regular basis. Depending on how dusty your lab is, that could mean once a month or once every 6 months. Be sure to turn the card rack power OFF and the fans OFF before you remove the air filters.
- Keep the temperature in the room that your system is located cool at all times. For older surface analysis systems, 68 degrees F (20C) or lower is ideal. If the room temperature gets up to the mid to upper 70s F you can expect to have more component failures.
- Vacuum out the back of the electronics console and the inside of the electronic units the same time that you clean the air filters.
- Check the cooling fans in the electronics rack and inside any electronic power supply or control. If the fans are spinning slowly or not at all, replace them. Keeping air moving is very important for older electronics and can help to extend the lifetime of the electronic components inside.
These 4 simple tasks can prevent more serious problems from occurring. Then hopefully the only maintenance that your system may need will be the occasional replacement of consumable parts such as ionizers, filaments and electron multipliers.
RBD Instruments always performs these simple tasks as part of a PM visit. If you service your system yourself or have it serviced by another company, always insist that these tasks are performed during the preventative maintenance visit. The pictures below filters that were removed from a system that had been on service contract with another company. Obviously they had not been cleaned in a long time!
As the old Fram oil filter commercial in the 80’s said, you can pay me now or you can pay me later. The idea being that if you don’t change your automotive oil filter on a regular basis that it will end up costing you a lot more to fix your engine later. The same thing applies with any piece of expensive equipment. Do the simple preventive maintenance tasks on a regular basis and you will avoid most of the severe time consuming problems.