This section will help you understand what is involved in interpreting oil analysis results. The principle is to apply our understanding of the application and the unit to the results and to derive an understanding of the condition of the lubricant and of the machine. This should then result in a recommendation for further action aimed at rectifying any faults and preventing downtime or even catastrophic failures.
An individual sample is a snap shot in time, reflective of a current condition. It may be informative in and of itself, but when combined with historic records for the system it creates a dynamic picture of system health.
Two supposedly identical units may be operating with different background levels of wear metals or specific contaminants. A one time comparison may hint at a potential problem for whichever unit is showing higher levels of ferrous wear, however analysis of historic trends may indicate that both have settled into a normal wear mode. In contrast, a higher rate of change in a sample with lower concentration of wear metals may be indicative of an abnormal condition, while a steady yet higher absolute value may give no cause for concern.
Regular sampling enables dynamic monitoring of trends. Consider the following criteria when choosing sampling frequency:
Oil sampling is a means of controlling the risk of failure. The first point above defines the consequence of failure and points 2-4 relate to its probability. Correctly setting sampling frequency is crucial to mitigating risk.
We can work with you to devise a sampling schedule that suits your needs.
At the same time our analysis interpretation also includes recommendation on any changes to the current rate of sampling based on the latest results. This may take form of reduced sampling interval to monitor a developing fault, an immediate repeat to confirm a severe condition or confirmation that current frequency remains appropriate.
We don’t believe in working in isolation. Best results are achieved by combining our expertise in Oil Analysis with your knowledge and understanding of the machine and its operating conditions and environment.
Our comments and recommendations are based on our knowledge and experience and always require some assumptions. We do our best to highlight those assumptions and to solicit feedback where necessary and indeed available. At the same time if you feel you can add something to the interpretation by volunteering further information we would actively encourage your participation. To aid this we have included the ability for you, as a customer, as well as other trusted users, to add comments to the web database. You are of course always welcome to call, email or carrier pigeon your feedback to us as well.
Once new information becomes available the results are reviewed and comments amended if a change is warranted. The revised reports are then reissued. Any customer feedback is registered in the customer comments field with reference to source, time and date as well as mode of communication.
An example of this in operation may be us receiving a sample without an oil grade having been specified. As viscosity is one of the most important properties of the oil it is always worth making the effort to find out the expected/required grade. The report will typically state that note should be taken of viscosity as no data has been provided on the grade. The customer can then review their records, or if none available make an assessment of the machine and its viscosity requirements. Once we hear back, we would amend the record with the grade information provided and review the results against the new criteria received. The comments would then be updated to reflect conformance with the grade and the report would be reissued.
Oil Analysis is essentially a chain of processes and activities from the initial analysis of the system and its sampling needs, through sampling, shipping, receipt at the lab, testing and interpretation, customer review, feedback and any resulting action.
The information produced by oil analysis is only as strong as the weakest link in this chain. This is why we not only put a lot of effort into ensuring accurate testing at the lab, but also engage with you to make the entire process more robust at every stage. We aim to educate you and your colleagues and empower you to engage with the lab at every stage. The service is not just numbers falling out of a black box, but helpful interactions with human beings interested in delivering a valuable service.
The layout of a typical oil analysis report is explored here.
More content will be added over the coming months, please drop by later.