Lubricants and coolants are an essential component to any moving part. In any industry, including transport, manufacturing and energy generation, equipment failure can be costly and/or dangerous. The testing and analysis of oils, coolants and greases is vital to ensure machinery is effectively lubricated for safe, cost-effective performance and to guarantee the longevity of an asset’s lifespan.
Why wait until failure?
Broken equipment or machinery failure can be catastrophic. Especially in the automotive and rail sectors, engine wear or lubricant quality degradation can be high risk to peoples’ safety. If lubricants aren’t monitored, then there can be no prior warning or identification that the oil is not fit for purpose or the asset is not fit for operation.
Testing the unseen may seem overcautious but being able to predict and prepare for maintenance errors can ensure that production, transportation, and the day-to-day running of industry operation keeps moving.
For example, a blood test at a doctor’s practice will flag up any issues about a patient’s health. Oil tests work in the same way in detecting the unseen problems or potential failures so maintenance or rectification can be put into place.
Various suites of tests can be designed to look at:
- the physical properties of the lubricant
- elemental analysis of the lubricant, making it possible to recognise wear, contamination and suitable lubrication within the asset
Wear on the bearing or gears can be identified by determining the levels of iron, copper and zinc within the oil.
Likewise, aging oil can be detected through the levels of viscosity, oxidation and acid present. In doing so, it indicates that the oil (and asset) will not be performing at maximum efficiency. The results of such could allow an organisation to make an informed decision to change the oil, and avoid a systematic fail further down the line.
Silicon and sodium indicates ingress of dust / dirt into the asset highlighting it can no longer prevent dirt entering into the system, which only causes further deterioration.
Prevention beats cure
To stop production, transportation or generation because of equipment failure will likely have negative financial impacts. Rapid response repairs can be costly, and production downtime can also lead to loss.
By determining the quality of lubricants on a regular basis – often through the use of sample collection kits - trends and patterns can be identified at an early stage to allow for informed maintenance decisions. Nowadays, online asset management software is used to support organisations in tracking and trending the results. Using an experienced company also lends itself to expert interpretation of results, for a full asset management solution.
In such a fast paced world, oil testing and analysis should be a part of every organisations regular monitoring programme to ensure things keep moving.