The benefits of oil analysis to asset managers
Oil analysis is a well-proven technique for monitoring difficult to access components in equipment that are being operated dynamically. Its strengths lie in its ability to identify faults and potential failures at an early stage.
This type of analysis plays a key role within a broad-based CBM (Condition Based Maintenance) regime which utilises a variety of monitoring technologies to underpin a predictive approach to maintenance.
An oil sample can be used to provide a “view” of what is going on in an engine, gearbox or pump without the need to disassemble it (it should be noted that the very act of disassembly and reassembly can introduce new faults) and identify specific issues such as piston blow-by, coolant or fuel contamination, failed seals, and failing bearings or gears.
Changing oil regularly and having your vehicles/machines routinely serviced is always good practice, but in itself will not prevent wear and associated breakdowns. Knowing what condition the internals of your engine, gearbox or pump are can only be done by oil analysis, stripping down and/or applying CBM techniques such as vibration analysis; and understanding the what the condition of the lubricant is and therefore how well it is performing can only be done by oil analysis. Oil analysis is cheap and effective compared to the other predictive maintenance methods and will not introduce any new faults by taking samples. It can also be done by a novice – if you can find your oil dipstick or sample point and follow basic instructions, you can take an oil sample! There is no need to pay or train a specialist or have your machine down/vehicle off the road for any length of time.
It is recommended that oil analysis is also done from time to time on the lubricants you put into your machines, before you do. The properties of oils can be severely compromised by how they are stored prior to use; water ingress (through leaks and condensation) and algal growth in oil stores is very common. Taking regular bunker samples as well as in-service samples ensures that your lubricants are always working at their best to protect your machines.