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Oil analysis - when do we raise the alarm?

Supplier: Clean Oil Services
21 April, 2010

The levels at which to set limits would be one of the most hotly debated topics in the condition monitoring industry, and can be very much a personal decision which will vary greatly from operation to operation, and machine to machine.

One of the main objectives of your Oil Analysis Program, should be to set limits and parameters with which to work to, for various actions to be taken, and should be designed so as to target an overall improvement in machine operating conditions. Many factors effect the levels set for limits, however most OEM's have specific limits on wear debris levels and oil drain intervals which must be researched and adhered to by the operator, otherwise warranty can be jeopardised.

At Clean Oil Services, we prefer to sit down with the operator and set the limits for maximum wear levels and various other criteria such as maximum oil drain intervals to suit the operation and management. The level of limits are based on previous results, OEM levels and are agreed upon by weighing up the current condition of machinery and the target levels the operation is aiming to achieve. They must be set to suit individual machines within the operation and must be budget orientated.

When setting the limits, the fleet average is usually set in favour of the older equipment, however in some fleets, old and new equipment may need to be graded to two or three sets of limits depending on age and condition of machinery. Oil drain intervals will also vary according to a particular operation and machinery condition and the requirements of management.

Never set your limits off those set at another operation. Conditions will vary from one operation to the next and will not always suit. Your Oil Analysis provider is well equipped to discuss and advise you on the optimum limits to suit your operation and remember, don't set your limits too fine; leave room for the unexpected. Your lab provider will notify you to flag a limit when reached or exceeded.

What is the point of all this extra work?

While today's lubrication technology has advanced to unprecedented levels, many industries continue to use outdated practices handed down over generations. The old coinage 'Oil is cheap' no longer works as excessive lubricant consumption and downtime are major contributing factors to your profitability. To 'get better at what we do best', includes decreasing costs and increasing production. We need to implement a reliability enhancing lubrication program which treats our lubrication as a profit centre…not just a workshop activity…it actually involves less work.

Your lubrication personnel need to be trained so that they can perform their job, from oil storage to disposal, with surgical precision while working under some of the most arduous conditions imaginable. Remember in today's world you get what you pay for; don't let price be the deciding factor in your decision when selecting your condition monitoring service provider.

A well run proactive Oil Analysis Program and a close alliance with your oil analysis provider will enhance your bottom line in many ways by:

  • Keeping you updated with today's most advanced technology
  • Identifying and reducing contamination levels
  • Monitoring oil performance and improving operating integrity
  • Reducing wear rates with better lubrication application
  • Eliminating any risk involved in extending drain intervals
  • Impacting on bottom line by optimising oil life
  • Reduced downtime, increase availability - more production
  • Better managing our environment with less waste