An oil analysis program revolves around the final oil analysis report. When personnel lack experience in reading a report, they would soon feel frustrated trying to make sense of all the jargon. Frustration leads to lack of appreciation and eventual failure of your program. For your program to succeed, your team will need to come to terms with learning how to read and interpret an oil analysis report.
Know the target limit for each parameter
As Peter Drucker mentioned, "you can't manage what you don't measure". Before you even start your program you are already setting yourself up for failure if you did not set any target. You would not know if your program is working or if your program is off-course that you need to readjust or re-evaluate your activities. Talk to an analyst to know more about target setting.
Identify your sampling location
When relating oil analysis parameters for contamination and wear trend, it is important to know where and how your samples were taken as these could affect your result. It is also important to record supporting details such as filter changes, oil top-offs, issues to maintenance activities as they occur to help you make sense of the trend and changes in your oil and machine.
Talk to your lubricant analyst
Report interpretation process should be a collaboration. Very much like a doctor-patient relationship, your team needs to communicate with your analyst all the supporting details you recorded. While an analyst knows the possible issues of the changes in your oil analysis trend but without your input, the analyst is blind to the operational specifics that are often required for a holistic and more specific interpretation.
Sort the reports with Warning signs and address immediately
Sorting many reports by severity or condition status is a good place to start. It allows the reader to determine which equipment needs immediate review. Group the reports that show slight outcome adjustments that do not need immediate intervention with the usual sample reports. Confirm if the Equipment ID is coincides with the bottle number or sample ID to rule out sample switch.
Be objective and impartial
When abnormality is reported, recognize it as an early warning. A regular and periodical oil analysis program can give you ample time to prepare your next move. Group the actions that are related to your oil analysis report.
Read the report logically
Whether you like deductive ("top-down") or inductive ("bottom up") approach in reading your oil analysis report, it is up to you. When using the deductive approach, you can start by reading the analyses and recommendations part and see whether they fall in the realm of oil condition, contamination condition, or wear condition. When you are done categorizing the analyses and recommendations, go over the quantitative results to see which specific parameters are giving you the problem. For inductive approach, work your way up through the parameters until you reach the analyses and recommendations.
Look for second opinion
Evaluate the analyses and correlate with your other diagnostic tools and actual observations. For example, when there is an abnormal spike in machine wear, check your IR or vibration results. Talk to your operators if they notice any abnormality such as excessive noise or abnormally low speed or load. You can also request for Wear Debris Analysis. If you are in doubt, set an appointment to discuss your results with the analyst. Once you have clarified everything, work out with your team the scheduling of your corrective actions.
Make it a habit
When you are about to start your Oil Analysis program and routine activities, it is normal to experience resistance but once it is routinely done, it becomes a habit. Establish a specific time and location for reviewing your reports. If possible schedule a joint meeting with your analyst. If free consultation is included in your program, make the most out of it.
Your oil analysis reports can tell you what is happening in your machine and oil but it does not tell you when the catastrophic breakdown is going to happen. It is only a matter of time but it will definitely happen. For your Oil Analysis Program to work and to get the most out of your investment, you need to solve the root cause of the problem. Remember that your oil analysis program does not solve all your problems. It just helps you see what you need to address but the corrective actions are entirely up to you.