Developing an effective oil analysis program requires careful planning. All too often when plant personnel decide to invest in oil analysis, they choose a lab and start sending samples without thinking about what they are trying to achieve.
This fire, aim, ready approach to oil analysis is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Instead, the program should be developed with a careful game plan in place based on a stated series of reliability goals.
Noria’s Oil Analysis Program Development process includes:
Sampling Location Identification
Not all potential sampling locations in a machine will produce the same data. Some locations are upstream of data-generating sites (a bearing, for instance) and others are downstream (a more rich sample). Some machines require multiple sampling locations to answer specific questions related to a machine’s condition, location of a problem and severity.
Sampling Procedure Development
The quality of the procedure by which a sample is drawn is critical to the success of oil analysis. Sampling procedures should be documented and followed uniformly by all members of the oil analysis team. This ensures consistent use of the correct procedure and helps to properly institutionalize oil analysis within the organization.
Sample Frequency Generation
Unlike other machine condition monitoring techniques that employ monthly testing, many oil analysis programs are based on annual or semi-annual sampling. This sampling infrequency compromises the powerful proactive and predictive capabilities of oil analysis. Proper selection of sampling frequency must be adjusted to consider machine and application-specific criteria like penalty of failure, fluid environment severity, machine age and oil age.
Sampling Hardware Recommendations
The hardware used to extract lubricant samples should not disturb sample quality but should aid it. It should be easy to use, clean, rugged and cost-effective.
Test Slate Development
It is important that the oil analysis test slate include those tests that provide meaningful information for a specific piece of equipment. Some tests are routine in nature while others are exception tests, triggered by the abnormal level of a routine test.
Target Alarm Development
Alarming techniques vary to fulfill the requirements of different oil analysis objectives. The alarm serves as an important “trip-wire” to tell the analyst that a threshold has been passed and that action is required. Goal-based targets, aging limits, rate-of-change alarms and statistical alarms may be applied.
Laboratory Selection Assistance
Selecting a commercial oil analysis lab is a process that involves many different considerations. No two labs are exactly the same and they vary in many significant ways. Many labs specialize in certain industries, vary in turnaround time, and employ different test capabilities and quality assurance methods.