Building A Long-Term Strategy For Oil Analysis

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In an earlier article we discussed oil analysis in terms of outsourcing oil tests, ensuring proper sample areas and frequency. Here we will examine additional elements of proper oil analysis: strategy, equipment and alarms.


Following ensuring that equipment is sampled on a regular basis, it also needs to be confirmed that the proper strategy is used to interpret the data obtained. In fact, it is absolutely critical, because even if everything else was done properly, choosing the wrong data interpretation strategy can prove disastrous.

It may take some additional testing to ensure the data gleaned from testing is used to its maximum. You may have received the results of an elemental analysis, for example, but if you don’t have much knowledge of internal configuration of the machine or metallurgy in general, you won’t be able to fully understand the results.

Sampling Equipment

Whether you decide to test in-house or outsource your oil analysis, the way in which the lab treats its equipment will have a direct effect on your results. Any equipment used for sampling needs to be stored in as clean an environment as possible. Also, after use and before it is stored, testing equipment should be thoroughly cleaned so as to ensure accurate results in subsequent tests.

Bottles for sampling should be selected based on target cleanliness for the oil being tested. The bottle chosen will fall under the ultra-clean, super-clean or clean category. The cleanliness of any sampling bottle will be evident in its packaging. For example, ultra-clean sampling bottles are hermetically sealed.


The alarm of an oil sample analysis is set for the purpose of filtering data for the analyst so that the focus can be on correcting issues. With a properly-set alarm in place, the analyst can be made aware that action needs to be taken. There are two types of alarm: the proactive and predictive.

Proactive Alarms

Proactive alarms exist to alert an individual about abnormalities which, when corrected will improve the performance of machinery, as they are related to the root causes of items like degradation of lubricant, operating issues and wear of hydraulic seals. These alarms can help ensure that conditions are maintained within levels that will allow machinery to perform efficiently.

Predictive Alarms

Predictive alarms exist to alert the individual to failure or wear, and abnormal machine conditions. Aimed at early detection, a predictive alarm will detect symptoms of failure that can allow for correction before actual failure occurs. Within predictive alarms are rate of change and statistical alarms.

Rate of change alarms indicate how much wear debris and similar items are entering the oil and at what rate. They concentrate on the speed that change occurs. Rate of change alarms can also indicate the rate at which oil is ageing.

Statistical alarms allow the analyst to see how many times the oil deviated from the mean. Should a value be within a single deviation, a normal result will occur. Should that value be outside of the single deviation, a caution will be the result. Finally, if a value goes beyond two deviations, there will be a critical result.

Every Element Counts

When conducting oil analysis, each element holds equal importance. In order to ensure accurate analysis, each procedure must be completed correctly. Any errors can result in much money, effort and time being wasted. When done properly and combined with other solutions for monitoring oil condition, analysis can enhance a maintenance program, leading to the long life and complete usage of equipment. Thanks to modern technology, oil can be analysed more closely than ever before, and is also in closer reach for anyone needing to test oil quality.

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