You Have Decided To Carry Out Regular Oil Sampling – Now What?

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A question that is quite often debated by maintenance engineers is Should oil analysis form part of your maintenance strategy?  (Follow the link to read the first article in this series explaining this).

You Have Decided To Carry Out Regular Oil Sampling – Now What?

Following on from the first article in the series, it is fair to say that used Oil Analysis forms a core element of a Predictive or Proactive maintenance program and if applied correctly has the following benefits:

  • provides extension in equipment life,
  • helps provide peace of mind when extending  oil drain intervals, 
  • reduces failures and failure rates, 
  • decreases  maintenance costs
  • increases equipment reliability,

all of which contribute to supporting and sustaining cost reductions at a mine site

An Equipment Lubrication Audit is generally the starting point of a wider detailed site audit which provides support with contamination control (housekeeping) and maintenance programs.  The audit should also include identifying those pieces of equipment which are critical to mining and earth moving operations and would benefit most from a condition monitoring program where the use of Oil Analysis ensures the maximum benefits are achieved.  This is where Total’s Mining Solutions (TMS) team can assist. As your lubricant supplier they will provide a detailed site audit, lubricant survey and assist with sampling programs. Follow the link to find out How Total Mining Solutions team help mining companies reduce their costs

Consolidating your Oil Analysis program with one service provider

Once you have decided that you are committed to including Oil Analysis as part of your condition monitoring program, the next step involves selecting the preferred Oil Analysis service provider. Often, there will be more than one service provider’s sample bottles to select from at a mining or construction site. This may be due to the Original Equipment Manufacturers offering their laboratory services as part of their warranty program, as well as other independent service providers used for other equipment. This could lead to having a number of different service providers on one site each with their own separate procedures which increases not only the risk of the oil sample going to the wrong laboratory, but in addition the added effort of trying to understand and get to grips with the different report layouts and report delivery systems from each of the service providers.

This approach is by no means efficient especially for those tasked with managing the Oil Analysis program on site and therefore Total recommends that where possible consolidate your Oil Analysis program with one service provider. 

What you should be looking for from your laboratory

For Oil Analysis to be effective and provide valuable information to the maintenance and reliability teams, the laboratory must produce sample results that are both timely and accurate. Laboratories that are selected to perform the used Oil Analysis service must also be capable of providing fuel, coolant, grease and other non routine type testing in an appropriate manner and time frame. 

Every customer looks for 3 main criteria from their Oil Analysis service provider:

  1. Quality of results
  2. Excellent processing (turnaround) time
  3. “Best possible price”

Unfortunately, you will invariably only be able to receive two out of the three above. Decide early on which two are most important to you and which are most needed for your operations.

Assess your service provider (laboratory) for the following criteria:

  • Do they have the correct Quality accreditation?
  • Do they have the ability to perform more than just routine testing”
  • Are their turnaround times acceptable?
  • Is the sample submission process easy?
  • Check the experience and competence of their  laboratory staff 
  • Check the experience and expertise of their data Interpreters

To satisfy all of these needs Total Lubricants provides ANAC, an oil analysis service that provides a complete range of analytical testing and monitoring systems for in-service oils that is easy to use.
Click to find out more about ANAC

The Output is only as good as the Input

Far too often oil samples are sent to the laboratory without all of the required information being recorded on the sample bottles. An often heard complaint is where a site has received 2 or 3 different sets of historical test data for the same piece of equipment. (One reason for this mix-up  is due to the fact that on one occasion only the unit ID may have been supplied to the laboratory, and on another occasion only the serial number. The laboratory has no way of knowing the link between Unit ID and Unit serial number unless an equipment list has been properly drawn up and provided to the laboratory at the onset). 

Before you embark on this process, it is best to ensure that all equipment and compartments to be included in the oil analysis program have been properly identified. This includes information such as;

  • unit make and model details, 
  • compartment make and model details, 
  • compartment oil capacity, 
  • oil manufacturer, 
  • type and grade of lubricant. 

An example of the requirements has been provided below for Heavy Mobile Equipment (HME). 

You Have Decided To Carry Out Regular Oil Sampling – Now What?

Example Unit Equipment List

This will reduce the amount of duplication that can occur during the running of the oil sampling program, especially if the sample submission form is written by hand. As indicated earlier, a well detailed lubricant survey provided by your lubricant supplier can go a long way to assisting with this process.

To assist with this process most laboratories now offer an online sample submission process. This allows the user to complete the sample submission process online, print labels containing the appropriate information and attach the label to the relevant sample bottle. The online submission service has significantly reduced the possibility of duplicate historical data for an individual unit and compartment. A detailed equipment list also ensures accurate selection of equipment when utilizing the online submission service.

This technical support is provided by the Total Mining Solutions team as part of its Lubrication Audit and service for its customers. Please follow the link to find all services provided by Total for mining companies

What types of oil tests should I ask for?

Two other challenges in implementing used oil analysis within the mining industry include;

  • The sampling and processing of used oil analysis technology which is often misapplied; 
  • Wrong tests specified or heavy dependence placed on individual laboratories to make condition assessments.

From a laboratory perspective one can separate tests into what are called routine tests and non-routine tests. Not every test is applicable for every compartment type, for example, one would not request to check for fuel dilution in a conveyor gearbox. 

These routine tests comprise primarily of:

  • Spectrometic analysis (elements such as Iron, Lead and also additive elements such as Calcium and Phosphorous are determined from the test)
  • Viscosity
  • Infra-Red (FTIR)
  • Ferrous debris or PQ
  • Cleanliness (Hydraulic compartments) 
  • TAN / TBN

The laboratories will then group a combination of applicable routine tests to make up a suite of tests (or test package) for each compartment type, such as the groups provided below.

You Have Decided To Carry Out Regular Oil Sampling – Now What?
Example Routine Test Suite for compartments

Whilst a routine suite of tests provide valuable information, these routine tests may not always provide the whole picture as to asset or lubricant health. For example, in the case of a turbine system, a standard set of routine testing should be applied monthly, but approximately every 12 months additional tests need to be carried out. 

In the case of the turbine system, the non-routine tests would include:

  • Rotating Pressure Vessel Oxidation Test (RPVOT)
  • Foaming characteristics
  • Water separability

This then allows for a more informed decision to be made as to the overall health of the oil. There are hundreds of non routine tests that can be requested depending on the information required and Total can guide you on what is needed. 
Once the equipment to be tested has been determined, and the required tests and test suite per compartment have been identified, then the sampling process can begin with subsequent samples dispatched to the preferred service provider for testing purposes. 

Total ANAC oil analysis program

Total Lubricants views its ANAC oil analysis program as an integral service to its clients. The ANAC analytical service has been shown to provide great value in predicting and extending component and oil life in earth moving equipment.

Follow the link to find out more about how Total’s ANAC service can add value to your operations.

The next article in this series will focus on how to utilize the oil analysis results more effectively.

With decades of reliable supply and value added services to its clients, TMS has become the partner of choice to mining companies. Today, TOTAL supplies fuel, lubricants and associated services to over 200 mining sites in over 40 countries.

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