The analysis of used oil is a predictive maintenance technology used to infer the condition of oil-lubricated compartments. Data gained through oil analysis relating to oil contamination and oil condition provides an objective view on the internal condition of a compartment.
What is oil analysis?
Oil is analysed to quantify how much contamination is circulating and reveal the condition of the oil itself.
A sample of oil is extracted from the compartment into a small sample bottle. It is mailed or delivered to a laboratory specialising in used oil analysis. The lab uses specific tests to determine contamination and oil condition. Once the tests are completed, the lab analyst will review the results for obvious problems. The lab may also perform some trend analysis comparing the current results with historical oil tests. This detects variations in contamination or condition over time.
Benefits of oil analysis
Oil analysis detects problems early
The testing conducted provides an insight into the compartment’s condition. The condition of the oil, and what, if any, wear metals are circulating in lubricating oils can be easily identified. These oil indicators, along with skilled interpretation, helps detect problems before more serious external problems are obvious.
Oil analysis helps schedule downtime
Once an early warning of a problem is identified, there is more time to prepare the downtime event required to address the problem. A planned intervention will always be cheaper and faster to execute than a major downtime event due to a catastrophic failure.
Oil analysis helps manage budgets by predicting repairs and downtime
If there is an early warning, a proactive repair can be scheduled, which provides greater control over costs and production losses attributable to maintenance. Maintenance teams and Asset Managers don’t plan, expect and budget for catastrophic failures. Therefore, early warning and planned maintenance helps meet the financial goals of the business.
Oil analysis can support component life extension initiatives
With a clear picture of the internals of a wet compartment, competent maintenance organisations can extend component lives based on this information. Component life extension has maximum value when one component replacement can be eliminated from the economic life of the machine. Even deferred overhauls can be helpful when an organisation has short-term cash flow limitations.
Oil analysis can support oil extension initiatives
The cost of regular oil replacement in large fleets of equipment are considerable. Oil extension programs need quality data to inform the limits of the oil in use. Oil analysis is a cheap and reliable data source for oil extension initiatives.
Oil analysis monitors positives as well as negatives
As well as providing early warning of problems, oil analysis provides confidence that there are machines in the fleet that are healthy and don’t need as much attention. Having a high-level view across you’re the equipment fleet allows for the allocation of finite labour hours to those machines or compartments that need the most attention.
Oil analysis helps monitor maintenance schedules and verify routine practices have been performed
An oil analyst will quickly identify whether a lube program is being executed according to plan. Oil condition testing and contamination levels are dependable indicators of time on the oil. Additionally, the additive pack ingredients are obvious to the analyst and having a compartment filled with the wrong oil is also detectable.
Oil analysis helps develop a complete profile and history of equipment.
With a history of oil analysis reports and maintenance events available, any prospective buyer can clearly determine their risk if they were to purchase a machine, or if they’re planning a capital replacement based on condition.
How can equipment managers improve equipment performance using oil analysis?
Oil analysis provides the data for an operation to make decisions that align with their company goals. Having compartment condition intelligence means the decision at the time is better informed. Running out a component on a machine about to be replaced is a logical choice. Rescheduling a rebuild because a component is unlikely to reach a target is also a logical choice. The information needed to make these decisions is greatly enhanced via the use of oil analysis.