How Oil Analysis Helps In Purchasing Decisions
by Michael D. Holloway, CLS, OMA I
National Sales Manager, Tribology

The common factor that seems to influence many purchasing decisions in industry is typically price. Lowest bid gets the job. We all know that this is a very dangerous practice. Without any empirical evidence to persuade us to think otherwise, this practice shall continue. Often, purchasing decisions that we make for our own homes or automobiles are based on experience, quality, and performance. It should be noted that there is a difference between quality and performance. Quality is product consistency according to a required level of performance. The product does what it is required for a long duration and is more reliable than any other product. A performance product exceeds a level of expectation deemed as status quo. High performance may not mean high quality. Just because a product can perform better than other products does not mean it can do so consistently. Oil analysis provides excellent insight into the quality and performance of oil as well as the lubricated component. When performance meets quality, the result is value in terms of increased reliability. The question remains – “How do I know just what to buy” and more importantly “How can I assure that what I am buying will actually help me”? Oil analysis can help by using a purchasing process combined with data.

1. Identifying the Reason for the Purchase (relieve failure) - Oil Analysis can

  • Determine what oils are lasting longer and which oils are breaking down sooner by looking at viscosity, acid neutralization, oxidation for changes.
  • Identify what parts are breaking down by looking at wear metal increase.
  • Identify contamination by examining the particulate levels, particle quantifier index (PQI), water concentration or fuel and coolant for engines.

2. Identify What Products are Costing the Most Due to Failure – Oil Analysis can

  • Compare oil technology.
  • Compare the wear regimes.
  • Identify contamination issues.

3. Determine the Performance Needed to Last Longer – Oil Analysis can

  • Help establish what performance is needed to reduce failure?
  • Help establish certain types of components (bearings, gears, valve, pumps, etc…) that are wearing out prematurely

4. Choose What Product (through Test Results) Best Suit the Situation

  • Running an ALS management report is a powerful tool that helps establish the performance criteria for oils and parts.
  • Using the management report feature to compare the assets, oils, locations as well as drilling down to specifics concerning the various failure modes will help make future purchasing decisions drive towards increased reliability.

5. Build the Purchasing Specification Around Performance through Data.

A fleet of trucks, a mining concern or even an oil play will purchase parts and equipment on a constant basis in order to keep the operation running. Product cost must be considered and compared to the cost of the operation as well as the cost of failure. Oil analysis can help identify the cost to run the operation and help determine what oil, component or asset is either contributing to the bottom line or hurting it.

Michael D. Holloway is National Sales Manager for ALS Tribology in North America. For more on this topic visit:

Webinar | February 25, 2015

Noria | Reliable Plant
Cleveland, OH | April 21-23-7, 2015

Solutions 2.0
Houston, TX | August 3-7, 2015