Oil analysis provides maintenance staff and engineers with information on the health of lubricants – vital for ensuring machinery functions smoothly. As with other condition monitoring techniques, successful analysis reduces downtime and its associated costs.
There are three main options for oil analysis, all of which are provided by Parker Kittiwake: off-site, online or on-site testing.
The most comprehensive tests can most effectively be done off-site. The disadvantage here is the turnaround time involved in sending samples to a commercial laboratory. It is not usually the most practical option for remote installations, such as offshore rig or unattended pipelines.
Before arranging off-site analysis it is important to choose a reputable oil analysis provider so that you can be confident that all the necessary tests – and none of the unnecessary ones – are performed.
This allows for instant alerts: sensors will detect problems not readily detectable via vibration or other indicators. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed in every case, but the early warning it provides will prompt on-site or off-site sample testing, after which the diagnostics and repairs can be dealt with on-site straightaway if the most likely fault is apparent.
Online testing technology is relatively new, but tools such as a Metallic Wear Debris Sensor offer advantages, including real-time analysis and highly flexible interfaces.
This solution enables equipment to be monitored very frequently. The best testing kits and portable instruments offer laboratory-like accuracy. Sensor readings can be assessed quickly, if necessary triggering the next stage – off-site sample analysis. Having all the testing facilities to hand at the site is the best insurance against an expensive technical failure. Less accessible sites, especially mines, have the most to gain from this monitoring method.
On-site fuel laboratories enable operators to perform a range of tests, including for metal contaminants and particle count. Parker’s Oil check is an example of an easily operated handheld tool for comparing new and used oils, giving the user valuable advance warning of engine failure. Similarly, viscosity can be tested on-site using a Heated Viscometer, which an independent report has shown to be as accurate as laboratory analysis. As well as monitoring changes in lubricating oil viscosity, it also verifies that the fuel is the correct grade for storage and purifiers.