The goal of an oil analysis program is to ensure that a lubricated system is performing as it should. Your oil analysis results can help you come up with the right decisions to address the root cause of the problem or to prevent a malfunction from occurring.

Remember that the results are always dependent on how well you implement your oil analysis program. Here are 6 ways to improve your oil analysis program:

1. Setting Targets

Set objectives before you start your oil analysis program. This includes reducing the number of warning alarms of your equipment or oil quality problems. Start identifying the parameters where your laboratory or third-party oil analysis provider has set alarm levels that are out of reach. They should change these threshold alarms to not risk the safety of your equipment.

Many programs place a great deal of emphasis on the ISO code for oil cleanliness. Start lowering the ISO code by one or two levels to set a fair target and make a realistic attempt to achieve it. Determine which lubricated machinery is a repeat offender of wear metal pollutants. This will help you reduce the numbers of alarms. Lastly, remember that the most effective way to measure change is to reduce maintenance expenditure while maintaining asset reliability.

2. Oil Sampling

Improve your method, sample location, sample device, or sample frequency. To optimize your oil sampling:

  • Join your lube technician for a round of routine sample collection.
  • Explore the best sampling practices as a group
  • Hear from the lube technician where to improve sample positions
  • Encourage everyone on your team to review lab results and make recommendations.

Examine the oil analysis results to see where to improve the sampling location and procedure. So, start changing your sampling procedure and location. This may involve equipment modifications by installing a sampling port at the right location.
3. Onsite Lab vs Third Party Lab

Starting an oil analysis program with an external laboratory is a low-cost and low-risk starting point for plants. To establish your oil and machine diagnostics program, start with an external lab to learn the basics and determine the plant needs. External testing is less costly but the findings require 1 to 2 weeks to arrive. Choose a third-party laboratory that will support your need for a faster turnaround time. Explore having onsite test kits for parameters that are critical to you, as well.

But if you want more control and believe that the cost can be justified by supplying your technicians with real-time knowledge that allows them to make real-time decisions, internal oil analysis capability can make sense.

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4. Interpretation of Oil Analysis Report
Laboratories use acronyms, abbreviations, and abridged vocabulary to report test results. This is not always readily and easily interpreted without proper training. Not all members of the reliability community are trained in interpreting oil analysis findings, as well as putting the puzzle pieces together from a set of experiments performed. Contact your laboratory and seek coaching. It will help you make well-informed decisions that would improve your system's reliability. Seeking training on oil analysis will also help you immensely in understanding your report.

5. Proactive Actions
When it comes to oil analysis and lubrication programs, safety is synonymous with excellence. There are safety measures that must be taken to ensure the safety of your factory, equipment, and workers. This includes safe and careful stocking and treating lubricants, conducting proper oil sampling, worksite inspection, proper disposal of lubricants, meeting site-specific protection protocols, and training to the degree you expect the program to achieve safety and excellence.
o Storage

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Keeping oil and proper storage of grease would go a long way in keeping a program clean and safe.

DO: Use a metered filter cart with quick-connect for transferring or filling oils. This will help prevent spills, leaks, and overuse of lubricants. Avoid exposing lubricant to fumes without atmospheric tester or ventilation.
o Handling

Some lubricants are non-toxic; others contain trace minerals or additives that, if handled incorrectly, may cause an allergic reaction or injury.

DO: Read the safety data sheet (SDS) and have copies on hand for staff who use the area regularly. Keep personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, goggles, masks, and face shields nearby. If the oil is usually over 100 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG), use a pressure reducer while sampling. Never apply grease to a grease gun coupler with your palm. Use grease guns with built-in pressure relief or avoid pneumatic types in high-risk scenarios.
o Equipment Monitoring

Go over your machine after each lubricant drain, change out, or fill.
DO: Keep an eye out for any leakage or spills. Dust or dirt may have accumulated in a small area during the maintenance. Place reminders and posters to warn everybody of issues including slides and falls.
o Disposal
Lubricant disposal is as important as receiving and storing new lubricant oil.
DO: Practice separating used oil in a different area from fresh oil. Observe local health, safety, and environmental (HSE) guidelines when mixing various forms of waste oil or used filters.
o General Safety Practices
Doing lubrication maintenance is equal to doing any other job at your plant.
DO: Wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE). Keep the place clean and clutter-free and ensure that all signage is visible and legible.
o Training
Regularly check all kinds of actions with the site's health and safety committee.
DO: New personnel must be well-trained as part of the onboarding process. Other staff who isn't involved with lubrication procedures must be aware of the activities and precautions.
6. Continuous Improvement

Every lubrication program personnel should have a basic understanding of the program. This includes lubrication fundamentals, contamination management, sampling methods, and analysis interpretation. This will help everyone comprehend and develop the program. The more knowledge you have, the more you appreciate what is going on with your machines.

Take advantage of opportunities to inspect the parts when a piece of machinery fails. Speak with your operators to find out what warning signals they observed before the breakdown. Ask questions and pay attention to the people doing the repairs.

Ensure that those in the analysis program will take part in learning opportunities. An understanding of how a part fails would make reading your analysis results easier. It will also make your oil analysis program more holistic and reliable when paired with other condition-based monitoring techniques. The more information you have, the better your program will be.


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