Laying the ground work before starting your oil analysis program will ensure that your program runs with a mininum of problems and effort and will ensure that you maximize your return on this investment. The following outline will guide you in setting up an oil analysis program, however, we encourage you to contact us to assist you in determining and fulfilling your oil analysis requirements.
Set Program Targets and Goals
Setting program goals is paramount to a successful Oil Analysis Program. Doing so ensures that you are collecting the appropriate data to meet your requirements and measure your progress.
Every site or company has many reasons for having a maintenance program. Essentially they generally resolve to be either safety or cost (efficiency) driven. An oil program is controlled by these principles. Safety is normally referring to the prevention of injury or loss of life during daily operations or during maintenance periods. Cost has many sub groups including availability of equipment, control of down-time, limiting the amount of on site spare parts and support staff, and simply lowering maintenance costs.
The question revolves around “what tests should I do or do I need to do for each unit?” This question brings us back to cost and safety. The program must be cost efficient and cover most probable or anticipated failure modes. Research and investigation are the most important background tools. Armed with an idea of how much you can expect to spend on a program and what results can be expected from a certain test method are the goal. Many papers, documents, and case studies give indications as to how much a firm should invest into proactive maintenance depending on the industry involved.
A facility normally has more than one unit or type of equipment that may be considered for predictive maintenance. Determination is necessary if a proactive maintenance program is cost efficient and in the companies best interests (safety and cost). Therefore, each units needs will determine what type and cost is to be spent.
Your oil analysis program may be managed by one individual or by several people. The key is to ensure that for each of the areas defined in the oil analysis cycle that you have assigned an individual that is responsible for the task.
If we look at the oil analysis cycle, we see that we will require persons to:
- purchase oil analysis kits
- take oil samples
- review oil analysis reports
- assign corrective actions
- confirm corrective actions
- perform periodic program review.
It is also important to ensure that the individuals involved have sufficient authority to carry out their functions. For instance, if I am responsible for assigning corrective action, then I will need to have the authority to ensure that those actions get carried out.
Some of the tasks of an oil analysis program can be carried out by external companies. Today there exist services that will do everything form taking oil samples to reviewing the effectiveness of your program. Our on-line system, WebCheck, can put you in touch with these companies if they figure into your program.
Determine Equipment to be Sampled
Determine the scope of your initial oil analysis program. Are you going to sample every piece of lubricated equipment, or does your maintenance department adhere to Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) principles? Your oil analysis program can start out modestly, and then grow in accordance with your experience in managing the program.
Once you have determined what will be sampled you must then determine when they will be sampled (see our guide to sampling frequencies). Setting up proper sampling frequencies will ensure that you will be able to catch iminent failures and signs of oil over-extension in time to take scheduled action.
Set-up Sampling Points
There are several methods of taking oil samples (see our guide on taking oil samples), however, some are better than others. Some methods may obscure useful data so we recommend setting up sampling ports on all equipment, and providing training to the people who will be taking the samples on the do’s and do not’s of oil sampling.
Collect Machine Information
Providing the required equipment information is essential to the success of your Oil Analysis Program. Keeping equipment information up-to-date and communication with the oil analysis laboratory are essential ingredients in your OA program.
The following equipment information in essential:
- Equipment Identification
- Component Type
- Lubricant Brand and Grade
- Oil Reservoir Capacity
- Component Make and Model
- Filter/Filtration Type and Micron Rating
- Operating Temperature and Pressure
Providing the laboratory with the necessary information ensures rapid diagnosis and accurate recommendations. Proper Equipment Information will ensure:
- Quick turn-around on sample diagnosis
- Proper QC on laboratory testing
- Meaningful and detailed recommendations
Many factors can come into play when selecting a laboratory. WearCheck International provides oil analysis programs of high quality. View the WearCheck vision and mission statement to determine if WearCheck’s goals meet the objectives of your organization.
Selecting the proper Test Kit will ensure that you can measure the progress towards attaining your Oil Analysis goals.
To assist you in selecting the proper test kit and sampling schedules view our Recommended Sampling Practices tables for:
To place an order with WearCheck, you can print-out a copy of our order form fill it out and fax it to us, or you can contact us.
There are different methods and tools employed to take a sample of oil from machine compartments. The most common methods are the vacuum pump method, drain stream method, and guage plug method. A WearCheck oil analysis course will provide more detailed information on taking oil samples. For information on purchasing sampling accessories contact us.
You can now purchase a variety of oil-analysis sampling accessories on-line on our Lubrigard store front.
Vacuum Pump Method
The vacuum pump sampling method is the most popular method for sampling the various compartments of mobile equipment. Samples may be taken from transmissions, engines and other machine compartments by putting the plastic tubing into the dipstick or oil access opening and using a vacuum pump to draw oil into the sample bottle.
Figure 1 – A typical vacuum pump.
Sampling Procedure (Vacuum Pump)
- With the engine shut off, insert the two (2) meter piece of clean plastic tubing through the head of the sampling gun.
- The tubing should be cut at a 45° angle for easy insertion through the cap.
- Next, tighten the sampling bottle onto the cap of the vacuum pump.
- For compartments with a dipstick, the tubing should be cut to the length of the dipstick.
- For compartments without a dipstick, such as gearboxes, final drives and other fixed or mobile equipment, the tubing should be cut to length as necessary.
- Several light pulls of the handle will fill the bottle.
- In order to obtain a homogenous sample it is essential that the oil be at operating temperature.
- The tubing must be used only once and then discarded.
- When you discard the tubing, do not pull the tubing back through the top of the pump, as this could contaminate subsequent samples. Instead, cut the tubing just above the top of the pump, and then pull the remaining piece (that was in the bottle) from the bottom of the pump.
Figure 2 – Plastic tubing used for taking samples with a vacuum pump.
Drain Stream Method
This method requires care on the part of the serviceman, as external dirt entry is a likely possibility. An incorrect diagnosis will be the result.The sample must be taken from the oil when it is hot and well mixed as it flows from the compartment drain. The initial and final parts of the oil stream must not be used, as this oil is not typical of the oil in the system.
Figure 3 – Drain port sampling from a reservoir into the sample bottle..
Sampling Procedure (Drain Stream Method)
- All dirt and debris from around the drain plug must be cleared before the sample is taken. Compressed air can be used for this.
- Remove the drain plug and allow the oil to start draining.
- Once the flow is clear of visible debris the bottle can be placed under the flow and filled to the recommended level.
- This bottle must be capped immediately.
- Do not take the oil sample from the drain container!
[ top ]
Gauge Plug Method
This method is most commonly used in fixed plant applications. It is easier, cleaner and faster than other methods of oil sampling, and it is generally possible to obtain the sample while the machine is running. This produces a fairly consistent and homogenous sample that is representative of the oil in the compartment.
Figure 4 – A typical gauge plug with a dust cap. Guage plugs are available in a variety of configurations, sizes and standard thread types.
Gauge Plug Location
A gauge plug is permanently installed in the oil line or in an oil gallery. The ideal location of the gauge plug will change with the machine model, but in all installations, the gauge plug should be installed in a location where it is easy to access away from any moving parts, protected from damage, and before any in-line filtration system (if applicable).
Figure 5 – A hose assembly for taking samples in conjunction with a gauge plug. The hose pictured here is for low pressure systems. Hose assemblies with a threaded connector are also available for high pressure sampling.
Sampling Procedure (with Gauge Plug)
- Step 1 Remove dust cap from the gauge plug on the machine, and with the engine at low idle, purge the gauge plug by discharging a small amount in a waste container. The sample bottle should not be used for purging.
- Step 2 Push the hose assembly onto the gauge plug and fill the bottle to the indicated level. Disconnect probe and replace the dust cap on the gauge plug. When taking samples from additional equipment ensure that the hose assembly has been thoroughly flushed with used oil from the equipment before taking a representative sample.
General Sampling Guidelines
- Oil sampling must be done during normal operation of the equipment or within 30 minutes after machine shut down. This ensures that the oil is warm and truly representative of the conditions within the compartment.
- When using the vacuum pump method, ensure that the sample is drawn from about the mid point or within the working level of the oil in the compartment and not from the bottom where sludge accumulates.
- It is important that the sample container is totally clean and free of moisture before the sample is taken.
- The container should be properly sealed to prevent any contamination or loss of oil during transit.
- Ensure the sample information sheet is completely and correctly filled out.
- Courier or mail the sample to the Laboratory immediately, so as to receive the analysis results as soon as is possible.
- For more information regarding the use of sampling valves or general oil sampling questions, including vacuum sampling pumps, please contact your nearest WearCheck laboratory.
The essence of any OA program management system requires access to sample reports. The ability to easily access sample reports and histories is essential. Rapid turn-around of sample results is critical.
Oil Analysis software is essential for both the effective managment of your oil analysis program, including the review of your oil analysis reports. As such, WearCheck offers WebCheck, our on-line Internet software. WebCheck is a free service so we recommend that you register for a free account, so that you can start reviewing your oil analysis reports on-line today.
With each sample analysis WearCheck provides a clear, concise sample analysis report. Select the sample test report format below for an overview of reading your WearCheck oil analysis report:
Each sample report contains a recommendation outlining any necessary maintenance actions. Before taking any drastic maintenance actions ensure that you first speak to the diagnostician who made the recommendations.