How a Viable Oil Analysis Program Prevents Equipment Failure by JG Lubricant Services

Many industries rely on mechanical equipment and machinery to produce product and revenue.   They must be assured that their equipment and mechanical components remain in good working condition.   Sudden equipment breakdown and unforeseen downtimes are not only costly, but can drain industries of millions of dollars worth of revenue annually. In order to ensure smooth operations, business managers should establish an oil analysis program similar to that available from JG Lubricant Services to monitor the viability of their equipment and mechanical components.

A viable oil analysis program should be part of any industry that deals with machinery, equipment, and heavy transportation. Oil analysis should play a key role in a company’s much larger preventive maintenance objectives.   Preventive maintenance should include regularly scheduled inspections, testing, and repair or reconditioning of mechanical components.  These practices significant lower the chances of experiencing failures, rapid  part deterioration and/or unforeseen breakdowns.

Oil analysis (OA) is the laboratory-based analysis of a lubricant’s chemical and physical properties. The lubricant should be tested for viscosity retention, oxidation resistance and contamination.  By implementing an oil analysis program, accurate and coherent information can be relayed back to management regarding the condition of the lubricant and the equipment.   A responsible oil analysis company will archive sample results and trend results over a given period of time in order to establish trends and look for anomalies that may forecast and even help to eliminate problems that might lead to costly repairs and equipment downtime.

According to professional oil analysts, the performance and durability of machinery and equipment is dependent upon proper lubrication.  In order to ensure continued performance, durability and design functionality, lubricants must maintain ample viscosity and oxidation resistance to support the intended mechanical and thermal stresses seen by the internal components.   Also, the oil must be kept relatively clean and free from contaminants.   Regular oil analysis using oil analysis or an oil analyzer provides important clues about the overall state of the lubricant, equipment and internal components.  In order to prevent failures and/or equipment malfunctions, oil analysts must understand  how to interpret test results in order to effectively relay information to the fleet manager  that allows him/her to proactively protect their equipment from lubricant degradation and resulting part wear.

Oil analysts also analyze lubricant properties to determine if extended drain intervals can be recommended.   To prevent wear due to contamination, oil analysts may suggest that lubricants be  periodically checked for cleanliness.   Particle counting can be used to increase the understanding of system debris and how it might be affecting part wear and equipment life.   Particle counting measures the number of particles in particular size ranges (from 4 to 100 microns) and assigns the counts to an array of particle size “bins”.   This then can be used to better understand filtration and whether or not the filter is doing the intended job.

Lubricants are subject to contamination from internal parts and ingested debris such as dirt, sand, and/or water especially if the lubricants are not stored properly or reservoirs are left uncapped.   Even new lubricants can be subject to contamination; therefore, before adding lubricants to any equipment or machinery, it should be thoroughly tested for contaminants.

Analysis experts and lab professionals recommend the use of particle count and ISO Cleanliness Codes to monitor system filtration and/or identify failed or insufficient filters.   It costs nearly ten times as much to extricate contaminants once present in the lubricant. By using oil analysis and/or oil analyzers to monitor lubricant properties and contaminant levels, fleet and maintenance managers can be alerted if filters or breathers are failing or need to be more closely monitored and maintained.

Published by

Thomas Johnson

Tom Johnson is part owner and President of JG Lubricant Services, LLC. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Purdue University and has over 30 years engineering experience. Prior to forming JG Lubricant Services, Tom acted as the Transmission Fluids Engineer for Allison Transmission for the last 20 years before his retirement in 2009. While in this position, Tom worked with most of the global oil and additive companies. Tom wrote all of Allison’s current lubricant specifications (including the ground breaking TES-295 specification). He directed and managed the testing and approval of hundreds of transmission fluid formulations for Allison Transmission and served as a key member of the GM Automatic Transmission Fluid Committee. Tom was also a key member of the Engine Oil Review Committee for the SAE Performance Review Institute and participated on a multi-OEM panel to review and approve engine oils to US Army specifications. Tom worked closely with the US Army Tank Automotive Command to review military specification oils for use in US Army tactical and combat wheeled and track laying vehicles.