Industrial Oil Analysis: The Whys and HOW-TOs

If you work within any business or industry that relies on oil lubrication, you probably already understand quite well why knowledge of your lubrication’s condition and quality are essential for smooth-running operations. You of course wish to get the most use out of your oil for as long as possible in order to maximize profits, reduce expenditures, and to keep machinery running without downtime. Without consistent and scheduled oil analyses, your lubrication resource can become weak and over-used and diluted – eventually causing a valuable piece of equipment to break down due to lack of enough lubrication. Once that transpires, production comes to a grinding (literally) halt, revenues suffer from the lack of productivity, while employees idly wait for machinery to be restored to working order.

IF the stall in production happens for a long enough period of time due to the unavailability of a new piece of machinery or the harried schedule of repairmen, client satisfaction can diminish and struggling companies may even find themselves losing vital customers. These are not good situations to find yourself within if you own or run a business. Therefore, incorporating oil analysis into your production logistics is a very good idea.

As an informative article on explains about the value of oil analysis:

“Oil analysis offers many benefits. Through regular testing of lubricants, you can:

  • Enhance equipment life and reliability by ensuring proper lubrication and detecting issues such as excessive wear and contamination
  • Extend lubricant life by monitoring its condition and, when deemed necessary, treating or cleaning it, typically allowing for longer intervals between fluid changes
  • Reduce equipment downtime by spotting and correcting potential lubrication problems before they become serious issues”

So then how does a company execute an effective oil analysis, especially if they’ve never done one before? Below are seven steps any business can take to conduct an oil analysis, or to make the process rote enough that it can be done without much trouble or hassles. These are the condensed steps from the more-rigorous article we mentioned above.

  1. Target the equipment and machinery that is absolutely essential to your production process for the oil analysis. Non-essential equipment oil analysis will slow down the process.
  2. Make sure this equipment is registered with the lab you will use for oil analyses. The lab can then determine the best tests based on your machinery types.
  3. Always follow proper oil sampling procedures at ALL times. A botched sample can skew the oil analyses either positively or negatively, which you don’t want to happen. Some very good advice for sampling oil comes from the afore-mentioned article:
  • “Collect samples when the lubricant is well-mixed and at normal operating temperature. Preferably, the equipment should run for at least 20 minutes prior to sampling to help ensure complete heating and circulation of the lubricant.
  • Take samples from a well-selected point, ideally downstream of components but before the fluid passes through any filters.  Allow some of the initial fluid to drain before collecting the sample, as the first fluid out may contain greater concentrations of water or sludge (since both are heavier than oil) than the oil in the system contains overall.
  • Minimize contamination risk by using clean bottles and equipment (if equipment is needed) to collect the samples. Caution: If you use substances such as solvents, diesel fuel or even water to clean these items, flush the items thoroughly with the oil about to be sampled before actually collecting the sample.”
  1. Provide the lab with ALL information they require about the equipment and the oil in question. Skipping fields on the lab’s form can only hurt the analysis.
  2. Ship samples as soon as possible to the lab for inspection. Delays increase the chance for sample contamination and also enable the oil to change from its consistency within the original equipment.
  3. Examine lab results ASAP to discover findings and to see what recommendations are being suggested by the lab, if any.
  4. Make oil analysis a regular part of your business. In order for such inspections to work well, they must be done consistently if you desire to catch problems with your lubricant technology before damage is done to equipment.

Oil analysis, much like physicals from your physician or EPA-mandated exhaust inspections for automobiles, only work when they are performed consistently. As the old saying goes, “a stitch in time saves nine.”

Learn more about industrial oils at Stevenson Oil.

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