December 21, 2012

True Case History
by David Doyle,CLS, OMA I & II
Vice President & Operations Manager

Return on investment through trending analysis is the ultimate goal of the service ALS Tribology provides to its clients. Here is an actual case history that exemplifies true success through in-service lubrication analysis.


A construction equipment manufacturer started promoting oil analysis with end users in order to support warranty and maintenance service. The manufacturer initiated and funds oil analysis on a product line of cone crushers.

The company felt that oil analysis is an investment in product support and service, as well as upholding the integrity of it’s product line.

Lubricant Laboratory Analysis:

A construction company that was taking advantage of the oil analysis support provided by the equipment manufacturer had been seeing abnormal wear trends on one of it’s cone crushers. The level of wear metal had been routinely flagged on the oil test reports going back a couple of months.

Through routine oil analysis, the test reports had noted that the iron level on a particular piece of equipment was outside of the OEM’s recommended limits and was getting worse.


The equipment manufacturer monitors these oil analysis reports and works with the laboratory in evaluating the severity of any abnormal conditions that are flagged during routine testing of customer’s equipment.

The determination was made that since there was no chromium present in the oil analysis, then wear from bearing races was not an issue. Additionally, the normal levels of copper, lead and aluminum indicated that bearing cages were not wearing excessively. Additionally, the normal levels of copper, lead and aluminum indicated that bearing cages were not wearing excessively.

The fact that the iron was the only wear metal which was high and getting worse narrowed the potential problem down to a floating plate, which is similar to a universal joint, or a gear set itself. Not bearing wear.

Familiarization with the cone crusher led the equipment manufacturer to believe that the floating plate would be the most likely cause of the high iron level.


The customer was advised by the equipment manufacturer to pull the cone head and inspect the unit. The customer was told where to look and what to look for. This amounted to a five-minute operation.

Upon inspection of the unit it was discovered that the floating plate had extensive wear and was ready to “explode” at some point. Generally what can happen is the floating plate will wear so thin that it will break apart and distribute large particles into the bearing passage, causing additional damage.

Immediate replacement of the floating plate was recommend.


Replacing a single $700 part with one-hour downtime made repairs on the unit. Not catching the worn part in time would have cost anywhere from $2000 to $12000 in additional damage with an estimated minimum 2 day downtime.

By using oil analysis as a proactive maintenance tool, the construction company prevented a larger problem by knowing what to look for, and having the right parts on hand when needed. The equipment manufacturer was able to use oil analysis in supporting it’s product line and maintaining the integrity of the equipment they sell.





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