Quality Oil Can Last 20 Years. Why Isn't Yours?

The importance of oil analysis.


Most maintenance professionals look at oil analysis simply as a tool to help extend the life of the oil. However if used properly, oil analysis can help companies keep equipment running thereby reducing interruptions by signaling when preventative maintenance is needed.

What Oil Analysis Can Help Solve 

It can reduce warranty claims. 

Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) companies often require routine oil analysis to be performed on equipment they cover by warranty. The oil analysis is performed based on either the number of hours in use or the age of the equipment.

If there is a failure, the OEM might ask you to confirm that you are using the correct lubricant for the application. If you can't prove it, they may not cover it. 
It can improve the energy use profile of key shop equipment. 

Using a quality lubricant provides the benefits of enhanced shear stability, minimizes changes in operating temperatures, and lessens the impact of certain contaminants. A quality lubricant coupled with an oil analysis can be beneficial when monitoring for wear particle levels to reduce friction, which in turn can potentially reduce energy consumption. The analysis can assist with determining proper filter selection and change out intervals to optimize the life of the oil.

It can prevent equipment failures. 

Oil analysis does more than tell you there's a problem; it can also tell you, in some circumstances, what the problem is and from where a failure is originating. If you're seeing high wear metals in your oil, the type of metal can tell you what part is possibly failing. 

It can save on total lubricant costs.

Do you change oil based on time intervals or condition of the oil? Many companies will dispose of a lubricant based on an annual change out. This may not always be the best approach if you are not properly monitoring the lubricants in use. Not only are you paying for the price of the lubricant you are also paying to have it disposed of. A small investment in an oil analysis can pay great dividends both short and long term at reducing operating costs. Changing an oil too soon or too late, both have financial consequences.

It can reduce total downtime. 

Like how a doctor monitors your blood to forecast any changes to your health, an oil analysis does the same for your machine. Depending on the type of equipment, selecting the right oil analysis can prove beneficial. Various test parameters are available so make sure you understand what is being tested and the level of importance. An oil analysis will often include viscosity, the percentage of water, particle count, metals, additive levels, and oxidation. Different equipment and their components may require specific tests, so you will want to choose the correct analysis for monitoring purposes.

What Is Considered Good Conditioned Oil? 

Good conditioned oil depends on the type of oil, how it's being used, and the intricacies of your machine. A single analysis isn't going to help you forecast much. The key is to look at how the components of your oil moderate and change over time. (Much like how your doctor monitors glucose, cholesterol, calcium, and other elements over your adult life.) Your machine's normal may not be the same as another's. 

Several factors should be evaluated when determining the frequency of conducting an oil analysis. Equipment criticality, environment, age, and component cleanliness levels are indicators for benchmarking the frequency of testing. Remember, it is important to establish a baseline and monitor the trend against the baseline standard.

The company you hire to do the analysis should provide you a complete trend report. Make sure to ask questions about anything in the report you don't understand. 

Reasons for Oil Analysis 

A lubrication program entails visual inspection of the equipment in addition to the condition of the lubricant. Visually inspecting the equipment and oil can often provide early warning signs that an oil analysis should be performed. 

•    You're replacing lots of valves or bearings and don't know why. 
•    The oil appears to be very dark or have a “burnt” odor.
•    Oil appears to be cloudy. 
•    There is excessive oil leakage. 
•    The operating temperature appears to be abnormal.
•    It seems as if you are draining the oil too frequently.

It's also wise to conduct an oil analysis in preparation of upcoming scheduled downtime. Then you know which oils need to be switched out and which equipment can keep running.

Good conditioned oil can last years. Make sure yours lasts as long as possible with proper and timely oil analysis.

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