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The Benefits of Contamination Control

Sep 6, 2022, 11:20 AM by Anthony Nemeth
Over the years, Contamination Control has had a positive effect on many of our operations and customers. From a reduction in rework, improved component life and machine performance, lower customer costs, and increased customer satisfaction the benefits are numerous.

Anthony Nemeth
Technical Services Manager
Toromont Cat

Over the years, Contamination Control has had a positive effect on many of our operations and customers.  From a reduction in rework, improved component life and machine performance, lower customer costs, and increased customer satisfaction the benefits are numerous.  There are also many less recognized benefits including creating a safer work environment, employee retention, and technician recruitment.

So what is Contamination Control? And what exactly is Contamination?
The Caterpillar Contamination Control program is a defined process that’s goal is to mitigate the effect of either foreign or self-generated debris from damaging and therefore shortening the life of components.

Contamination is anything in the fluid that doesn't belong. Particulate contaminants are the most common and controllable. They include such things as dirt, metals, weld spatter, paint flakes, rag fibers, and sealing materials. These can be built in, ingressed, or self generated.

Heat, water and air are also contaminants. These combine to break down the oil's chemical composition, forming oil oxidation and acids.

Why Contamination Control?
Customer demand for increased productivity has produced industry trends of electro-hydraulics, higher system pressures and extremely tight internal clearances.  As a result of these trends, today's fluid systems (hydraulics, transmissions, final drives, engines, fuel systems) cannot tolerate previously accepted levels of dirt and other contaminants.  Fluid contamination threatens reliability throughout the life cycle of today's machines and engines.  Controlling fluid contamination requires a cultural change in the way Caterpillar products are designed, manufactured, maintained and serviced.

From a technical perspective, it’s obvious that keeping oil and components free from contaminants just makes sense.  However, there are many additional benefits to Contamination Control that are less talked about but just as important. 

At Toromont, the safety of our people is always at the forefront of everything we do each and every day. Considering what the Contamination Control program demands in terms of organization, cleanliness, orderliness, and Standard Operating Practices it can certainly move the needle in the right direction and have a positive impact on our safety record.  The old maxim “A Clean Shop is a Safe Shop” is as true today as it ever was, and the benefit of an organized shop is that it reduces the opportunity for incidents to take place.

Consider that congested work areas are the 3rd most common root cause for all incidents, and equipment placement/arrangement is the 2nd most common root cause for recordable incidents. 

Technician Retention
One of our most valuable assets as an organization are our people.  With a large percentage of those being technicians, parts personnel, and various other roles that spend time in the shop environment it’s critical we provide the necessary tools to do the job safely and in a professional manner.  When we think of tools, we tend to think of wrenches, sockets, hammers etc.  But from another perspective, the shop itself and the overall environment within is also a tool.  Consider an operating room where the surgeon’s instruments were not sanitary or within arm’s reach, or an automotive assembly line where the parts required to fit on the vehicle moving down the line were not available to the assembler.  Would these folks be able to carry out their jobs to the best of their ability?  Would the patient come out of surgery having had the best care possible?  Would the production schedule have been met?  And importantly, would they be satisfied that they have been set up for success and job satisfaction?  Most likely not.  Our folks are no different.  The Contamination Control program offers our technicians the best chance of success and therefore long term job satisfaction by ensuring shops are clean, tools and consumables are easily available and in good working order, and everyone knows the roles they play in the program.

Technician Recruitment
In today’s competitive environment, a robust Contamination Control program can offer a differentiator when a candidate is considering a career with Toromont.  Adoption of the program creates a clean, environmentally friendly, efficient, and professional environment.  Technicians have many employment options these days and as they consider their options the impact of a shop that lives and breathes the Contamination Control program can be what tips the scales in our favour.  The old stereotypes surrounding our industry and the working conditions have changed and today’s techs are drawn to progressive employers who are willing to provide the tools and programs necessary to ensure success.

We have recently renewed our Contamination Control initiatives at many locations.  In the upcoming months there will be more information about achieving our Contamination Control program goals.

For more information about Contamination Control please visit:


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