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Predictive Maintenance Blog

Oil Analysis for Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) is a broad field of many overlapping technologies, all of which have one common goal: find faults in a machine’s condition before the machine fails. On their own, predictive technologies each have their own strengths. For example, the following are our most common applications of vibration, infrared, and ultrasound:

  • Vibration: diagnose mechanical faults in rotating machines.
  • Infrared: detect problems in electrical circuits.
  • Ultrasound: detect leaks in compressed air/gas lines.

Oil analysis is another powerful technology which has many applications across different industries. An oil sample can be tested for viscosity, wear particles, the presence of water, and more. In industrial facilities, oil analysis is commonly used to monitor critical equipment such as compressors and gearboxes. In the transportation industry, tests on diesel engines are common and vital. Diesel engines found in trains, buses, trucks, and ships are often pushed to the limit in harsh operating conditions. Oil analysis provides an opportunity to monitor the condition of these engines in a way that other predictive technologies cannot.

Are you considering implementing an oil analysis program at your facility? If so, there are some vital questions you must answer before you begin. Consider the following:

  • What critical equipment could benefit from oil analysis?
  • What kind of contaminations are the machines exposed to (water, soot, ash, corrosion, etc.)?

The answers to these preliminary questions will help determine which tests should be performed on the oil samples and how often samples should be taken. Before sampling begins, make sure to create an equipment list with the machine type, name/asset number, lubricant type/grade/manufacturer, and whether or not the sample is filtered. This information will aid the testing lab with analysis.

Over time, trends emerge from analyzed oil samples. Sampling regularly will determine optimal lubricant replacement intervals, ensure the machine is operating under proper conditions, and indicate potential warnings of machine failure. In turn, a successful program will increase asset performance and maximize the useful life of those assets. Take the time to consider the application of an oil analysis program in your facility.