November 15, 2012

Equipment Selection for Oil and Coolant Trending Analysis
by David Doyle,CLS, OMA I & II
Vice President & Operations Manager

When getting started with implementing analysis of in-service lubricants and coolants many times equipment owner/operators and maintenance personnel wonder which equipment would be relevant to the benefits of trending analysis.  The short answer is anytime there is a substantial capital investment in equipment or if the equipment is a critical component to the business operation. When selecting candidates for an analysis program here are a few options to consider:

  • Do not take on too much at once.
    When getting started, focus on equipment of particular interest and do not feel every piece of machinery has to be brought on board at the same time. This will allow an opportunity to fine tune internal processes for submitting samples to the laboratory, verify that the selected test package is applicable, and ensures a process for following up on test reports and data is provided.  Sometimes it makes sense to focus on the more problematic areas initially and build the program from there.


  • Equipment age.
    Newer and older machinery usually need more frequent sampling frequencies and experience more frequent service issue than established equipment not undergoing extended service life.


  • Work environment.
    Machinery exposed to more severe environmental conditions, such as dirt, moisture, temperature extremes, and harsher duty cycles are candidates for close monitoring of in-service lubricants and coolants through trending analysis. This is also a factor in sampling frequencies.


  • Penalty of failure.
    Assess the penalty of failure to the operation if a particular piece of equipment goes down.  How much capital is invested in the equipment? What is the cost to the overall operation if machinery is not operating? How much is bottom line affected due to unplanned downtime, as opposed to scheduled downtime?


  • Sump size is not the total picture.
    Many times it is thought that due to a small sump size it’s easier to just change the oil than worry about taking a sample.  After all, “oil is cheap”, and by the time the trouble is taken just to get a sample, the oil may as well have been changed any way.  What should be considered in these circumstances is that oil analysis looks at two facets. Both the condition of the equipment and the condition of the lubricant in service. What can that sample tell us about the condition of the equipment? Is the machinery critical to the overall operation? If so, wear patterns should be monitored. Are there contaminants that contribute to undue wear such as dirt and water? Is the equipment running under excessive heat that contributes to severe service duty and compromises the integrity of the lubricant?

When starting up an analysis program for equipment lubricants and coolants ALS is available to assist in equipment selection and the appropriate test packages. We can work with both your lubricants supplier and maintenance staff.



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