Sampling, measuring, and tracking the health and functionality of lubricating oil is fundamental to a successful predictive maintenance program. Oil sampling procedures should be regularly scheduled and performed by trained lube techs, and unscheduled oil analysis should be implemented when possible.
The Optimum Reference State
Oil analysis helps define the Optimum Reference State (ORS) — the prescribed state of maintenance practices, component configuration, and operating conditions required for a machine to meet and sustain defined reliability objectives. The goal of an ORS is not necessarily to maximize reliability; there comes a point when the return of reliability does not justify the cost, the point of diminishing returns. Instead, the ORS aims to end overspending, wasting money on resources and maintenance activities that will not provide a return.
Overspending is common with lubrication — buying lubricants with unnecessary additives or properties; buying too much lubricant and allowing the excess to spoil in storage; changing oils more frequently than necessary. When oil is wasted, money is wasted.
Oil waste can be limited in a number of ways, one of the most effective being oil regeneration. Oil regeneration techniques like our Double Separation Technology allow a machine’s lubricating oil to be recovered and reused — restoring it to full functionality.
Regenerating oil prevents money and material waste in a number of ways:
- Less new oil is purchased
- Less old oil is discarded
- Allows for the use of more efficient oils (when oil is regenerated, you only have to buy it once, which frees up money for the purchase of efficient, high-quality lubricants)
- Maintenance costs are reduced
Early detection strategies can make a predictive maintenance program more effective. Instead of relying solely on interval-based oil analysis, a detection phase can be added as an early part of PdM. This detection phase combines frequent human inspection tactics with other forms of conventional monitoring to provide continuous failure surveillance.
Essential, anything that can be done to detect (but not analyze) a failure in progress can be included in the detection phase, including:
- Visual inspections of the oil (made easier and more accurate by installing tools like sight glasses and magnetic plugs)
- Temperature inspections
- Instrument and gauge inspections
- Field inspection techniques like crackle and blotter spot testing
- Mechanical component inspections
- Portable PdM technology inspections (thermography, vibration, acoustics, etc.)
When regularly practiced by trained personnel, these techniques can catch many incipient and impending failure conditions sooner than scheduled oil analysis techniques.
The need for unscheduled inspection techniques does not replace the need for scheduled oil analysis. Among other things, consistent oil analysis can help track the state of machine components and oil over time, allowing for more effective contamination control and, in turn, extended machine life.
Limiting waste with predictive maintenance (PdM)
Oil analysis is one way of pinpointing some of the causes of lubricant waste. But predictive maintenance goes beyond that — it aims to reduce waste in every area of maintenance and reliability. When predictive maintenance practices are implemented properly and combined with preventive and proactive maintenance techniques, actions can be taken to improve sustainability.
Oil regeneration allows for a circular recovery approach to sustainable lubrication practice. By returning used oil to its original operating condition, oil regeneration technologies reduce waste — drastically cutting the amount of oil discarded and increasing asset efficiency and lifespan.