Performing regular oil analysis on samples from your equipment can help ensure that you are maximizing your equipment life, as well as getting the most out of your lubricants. This helps extend your oil drains, reduce maintenance costs, and detect issues before they become a catastrophic breakdown or failure.
Following the best practices in these 8 area’s will help ensure that you are getting the most out of your oil analysis program.
1: Consistency Matters!
Its best to take your samples while the equipment is hot and the oil is well mixed, from a permanent sample port. If a sampling port is not available its important to take the sample the same way, from the same spot each time.
2: Sample Regularly
Sampling regularly will help develop trends for your equipment which will allow you a greater understand of what is happening inside your engine. If you start by sampling at the manufacturers recommend drain interval you can then use your oil analysis to determine if drain intervals can be extended, or if they need to be shortened due to severe service factors like hot and dusty work environments or heavy loads.
3: Sample Points
The location that you take your sample from is important. Never sample from a drain pan or the bottom of a reservoir! This can cause elevated particle counts or increased concentration of metal particles. If a sample port is not available you will want to make sure that your sampling in a turbulent area, after the components you are watching, but before any filters.
4: Sample Bottles
You should always use a new, clean sample bottle that is appropriate for the type of material that you are sampling. This ensures that you are not bringing in outside contamination into your results.
Its important to flush sample tubing or manual sample valves before collecting the oil sample as contaminates can build up in areas of low flow (valve ends, dead legs, bottom of sumps and pans). For the same reason if you’re taking an oil sample during a drain, you’ll want to collect your sample in the middle of the drain (often called a mid-stream collection).
6: Sample Information
Provide accurate sample information – Date, time, location, equipment, viscosity grade, etc. The more information that you provide the lab with prior to analysis, the more useful your data will be after. Different makes and models of equipment have different components and the lab will customize the reportable metals based on the equipment components for you.
7: The Sampler
This is a sub category of being consistent, but you want to ensure your samples are always taken by the same person each time to eliminate any operator error.
8: Don’t Wait
Time is money, and the sooner you submit your samples to the lab and get the data back, the sooner you can intervene if there is an issue with a piece of equipment. If you wait for a few weeks to submit the oil samples, then you are passing up the opportunity to catch an issue before a failure occurs.
Following these 8 best practices will help you maximize the return on your oil analysis program.