Getting a "digital inspection" is not necessarily something that fleet professionals look forward to.
That is, unless Shell Lubricants' VideoCheck™ digital inspection system is coming to your shop to make sure your trucks' engines are in good shape. VideoCheck™ is a state-of-the-art digital fiber optic method to inspect hard-to-access internal engine components like cylinder heads, valves and pistons, saving many hours of labor.
The system uses a small video camera attached to the end of an adjustable cable, which is fed into the engine to transmit images to a high-resolution laptop monitor. This less invasive method allows for a complete engine assessment without completely tearing apart (and putting back together) the engine, identifies potential damage or problems and provides visual indication of lubrication performance.
VideoCheck™ records and saves video images of key engine components and the operator issues a report, including diagnoses and recommendations, if any. The program is free of charge and available for any Shell customers or prospects.
COAST TO COAST
Jeff Priborsky, Shell Lubricants U.S. marketing manager (business-to-business), says VideoCheck first started in Mexico before moving north of the border around three years ago, and now has two full-time operators criss-crossing the country.
"We keep two guys pretty busy--this year alone we've done over 200 inspections and/or demonstrations, and next year we plan to break the 300 mark," he says. "We set out a schedule for the entire year, and we work with our fleet reps and provide them each with two weeks during the course of the year. There's enough flexibility in the program with two operators where if there is an emergency situation, where you've had a catastrophic failure or something of that nature, we can usually respond quite quickly."
The technology was first developed for the medical industry but was adapted for industrial use--at first to inspect aircraft engines and turbines before Shell used it to see inside of on and off-highway diesel engines and gearboxes. Priborsky says while the system is mainly used to validate fleets' maintenance schedules and practices, sometimes it is at the right place at the right time to save some serious money.
"We had a large mining customer out west that just put a large piece of equipment back in service after having a complete rebuild on the engine, and cost-per-hour to run one of those and the revenue those generate is staggering," he says. "Within 20 hours, they were developing issues, and the engine OEM said, 'You did something wrong--you have a lubricants issue.' We were able to get our VideoCheck operator out there within 48 hours and inspected it and determined it was an assembly issue. And we were able to document that to show the OEM."
Sometimes, VideoCheck can help save fleets money by proving that components do not need to be replaced right away.
"We recently had an inspection where the tractor was one of the owner's personal trucks--his little baby for years," Priborsky says. "It had just over 1.25 million miles, and he said, 'Well, we're going to get her overhauled--let's see what it's like.' So that's what we did the inspection on, and when he was able to see the condition of his engine, he said, 'Wow, you just saved me $15,000, because I don't need to do a thing to this truck.'"
Sometimes the VideoCheck™ system arrives just in the nick of time. An over-the-road transport tractor was having problems, but the fleet owner had no idea why and didn't think it was bad enough to pull the truck off the road. A VideoCheck™ inspection found that while the piston showed no signs of notable deposits, major damage was seen along its crown and outside edge. The truck was pulled off the road, possibly avoiding a costly on-road failure.