What equipment should be selected for routine and periodic sampling for testing? Assessing how critical a piece of equipment is to the success of your operation should be evaluated. If a machine fails what is the penalty of failure to the business? Generally if there is a significant capital investment in a machine, then protecting that investment should be a focus. The cost of downtime as well as the negative effect on other equipment and processes should be evaluated.
Establish goals and targets to be achieved:
Work with your testing laboratory to identify what targets and goals your business wants to achieve through testing the in-service lubricants in your equipment. There are many areas that can be considered. Decreased equipment downtime and increased asset reliability. Lower the cost of ownership. Increased resale value and warranty protection. Extended equipment life. Optimize oil drain intervals. These are just a few of the targets and goals that can be identified to realize a greater return on investment.
Establishing appropriate test packages:
Once the targets and goals have been identified around a successful testing program appropriate test packages can then be established that will monitor and provide measurables towards success. The test data should provide guidance towards optimal maintenance practices by avoiding unrelated preventative maintenance or too little corrective action maintenance.
Sampling frequencies can reflect equipment criticality, equipment age (new or older), history of reliability, keeping root cause contributors within established limits (such as cleanliness), environment and severity of duty cycle.
Sampling method and location:
Standardizing sampling methods is very important for both data integrity and safety considerations. For data integrity, consistency is the most important factor. Avoid sources of garbage data and ensure the sample captures information that can reflect the actual health of the equipment and lubricant in service.
Process for sending sample to the laboratory:
Timeliness of the data is always important. Key to this is having a process to ship and have the sample delivered to the testing laboratory in a timely manner. Do not let samples sit around prior to shipping. Ensure someone is responsible for delivery of the sample to the testing laboratory. Also, the shipping process should ensure the sample information is complete and the sample is packaged properly for delivery with no leakage.
Ownership and follow up of the test data:
This is a key element to a successful oil analysis program. Ownership of the program and the data needs to be established by the end-user. Otherwise issues can be missed or not properly followed up on. This is critical to achieving goals and maximizing return on investment. Having ownership of the program also establishes a conduit between the people responsible for the asset reliability and the testing laboratory.
Communication with the testing laboratory:
As noted in the section regarding ownership of the testing program, communication with the testing laboratory aids in maximizing the benefits of the testing program and adding value to the test data.
Complimentary asset health monitoring practices:
Look to how testing of the in-service lubricants can complement other maintenance practices and tool. Oil analysis is not an end-all but can go a long ways in optimizing asset reliability when used in conjunction with other disciplines such as vibration analysis, sensors, and thermography.
Review program and make adjustments where needed:
This is where a successful oil analysis program comes full circle. Periodically review goals and targets and how the sampling and testing practices contribute to success. Does the data reflect measurables that help guide towards established goals? Have goals changed overtime? Are sampling frequencies occurring too often or not often enough? Does established equipment selection criteria recognize all factors for asset reliability?
These are some key considerations for a successful oil analysis program. The parameters can change over the years so dynamic management can make any needed adjustment to keep the process optimal. ALS can assist with training and has tools for determining sampling frequencies and return on investment. Contact us for more information.
David Doyle, CLS, OMA I, OMA II