Oil Analysis Blog-

Oil Analysis Blog

Want a Successful OA Program? Invest in Training!


One aspect of a reputable, self-sufficient oil analysis program that is often overlooked is training. Trained technicians that understand how important quality lubrication procedures are will be key in maintaining a program.

Staffing of a lubrication program is extremely important. You may consider hiring someone with a proven track record of success, however do not overlook the talent you already have in your plant. There are likely several people already in your organization that would be good fits.

Once your staff is in place you can look at outside resources to assist with training. There are several companies that offer excellent training in lubrication fundamentals and practices and most will be willing to come to your site if you have enough people to fill a class. Do not forget to include supervisors and managers. They need to be onboard and be aware of what is required and the benefits that can be achieved by implementing an oil analysis program.

Oil analysis is an ever-changing technology and to reap its benefits, one must continually receive quality training.

Training options may include:

  • TestOil Regional Training Course or Online Webinar
  • Classes and/or certifications
  • Trade shows and conferences are another way to help personnel stay on top of recent advances in their field
  • Department budget should reflect these educational opportunities from year to year

How To Design A Successful Oil Analysis Program: Choose an Oil Analysis Lab


If it is determined that contracting an outside lab is the best course for your oil analysis program, care must be taken to insure that the lab is a good fit for your company. It is important to match a lab with the predictive maintenance strategies that your plant employs.

It should be understood that some labs cater solely to industrial applications while others are primarily focused on engine oils. You should be aware of this, as it is best to contract with a lab that focuses 100% of their time serving the industrial sector. The lab that focuses solely on industrial applications will be familiar with your type of equipment and the analysts will have much more expertise in analyzing your test results. While any lab will agree to perform your testing, the question that must be asked is “Does the lab have the experience required to be my oil analysis provider and will I receive the correct tests?”

Customer service is another important aspect to consider when choosing a lab. In order to resolve issues quickly your lab should be available on your first call. It is important to note that some labs have limited access to analyst and rely heavily on voice mail services.
When evaluating a lab, consider the following questions.

  • What is turnaround time on samples?
  • What does pricing include?
    • shipping cost
    • site visits from lab
    • training
    • rush samples
    • supplies
    • lube audits
  • Will technical help be available? Does it cost extra?
  • How long will the contract last? Is there a charge to break the contract?
  • How will my results be communicated to me?
  • Does the lab offer unlimited, online access to my data?

Just sending an oil sample to the first lab found on the Internet may not guarantee a quality oil analysis program. Simply taking a few precautionary, well-planned steps should minimize any unforeseen problems. With a good vision, correct communication, and an understanding of what to expect from oil analysis, a program can be established that will be credible and a merit to the reliability of any company.


How to Design a Successful Oil Analysis Program: Determine Test Packages


Oil analysis test packages should be carefully considered. Different equipment have different test profile requirements. When determining what test packages to choose, the actual equipment and the surrounding environment should dictate what tests are appropriate.

Keep in mind that with oil analysis your goal is to increase machine reliability through improved fluid condition and early detection that otherwise would not be obvious unless it causes machine failures. Having an idea about what the various tests are, what they can accomplish, and taking into account the maintenance philosophy being practiced, test packages can easily be drawn up to accomplish the desired results.

For example, you may know that some equipment can be run to failure much less expensively than the cost of performing a regular oil analysis. On the other hand, on machines with smaller reservoirs when oil quality is all that would be monitored, it may be best to continue with regular or even increased frequency of oil changes.

If you are not sure what tests are right for your equipment, it is best to consult a quality lab for assistance in this area.
When determining what test packages you need, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is being monitored, the machine, the lubricant, or both? These three items require a different set of tests. Each type of machine should have a test package tailored to its needs. You should also begin a dialogue with an oil analysis lab to help you determine what test packages will help you reach your goals.
2. How often will samples be taken from each machine? Depending on the criticality and type of testing, frequency of sampling could range from once a week to annually.

How To Design A Successful Oil Analysis Program: Identify Critical Equipment


When you start implementing an oil analysis program, you need to decide what equipment in the plant to sample. This can be a daunting task but it cannot be overlooked. Supervisors and management need to take the time to identify the targeted equipment, write detailed procedures, establish routes, and sampling schedules.

Equipment critical to plant operations should be identified first. This equipment often does not have a backup unit to replace it when it is not in service. In addition, major repairs and overhaul of critical equipment often require a complete plant shutdown, substantial manpower and subsequent loss of production activities. Critical equipment in plants typically have these common characteristics:

  • They require very high capital investment and are expensive to maintain and repair.
  • They are engineered for long service lives when operated within design specifications and in a predictable environment.
  • Many are quite large and are made up of several individual components.
  • Downtime is quite expensive since production is usually halted when unexpected problems or a system failure is experienced.

Appropriate testing for critical equipment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Wear metal analysis
  • Moisture content
  • Viscosity
  • Acid number
  • Analytical ferrography
  • Particle counting