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Oil analysis creates opportunities for major savings

Machine breakdown and unplanned production stoppages are expensive. Quite often, the problems are related to the oil. Approximately 80 percent of breakdowns are caused by contaminated oil and poor filtration. This can be avoided by means of regular oil analyses.

Oil analysis offers you an insight into your machinery, a diagnosis of the state of your technology. Checking the oil regularly makes sound financial sense.

“Experience shows that every SEK 10 you spend on oil analysis results in a saving of SEK 45 somewhere else in your operations, primarily in the form of fewer breakdowns and longer oil drain intervals,” says Charlotta Brodin, Laboratory Manager at FUCHS Lubricants Nordics.

At the same time, it is easier to plan regular maintenance and optimise change intervals.

“Oil analyses can therefore enhance both efficiency and productivity, and contribute to increased profitability,” says Charlotta Brodin.

See the warning signs
An oil analysis makes it possible to detect abnormal wear that may be a warning sign of future breakdowns. One problem is that the risks vary and appear different over time.

“We like to talk about a ‘bathtub curve’. During the commissioning phase, breakdowns are often caused by using the wrong lubricant, poor maintenance or excessive faith in a machine’s ability to perform. Basically overloading,” says Charlotta Brodin.

The next phase of the bathtub curve is called ‘normal service life’. Wear decreases dramatically here. Breakdowns are primarily caused by contamination and poor oil filtration. By monitoring this phase, it is possible to extend it and minimise the risk of unforeseen problems.

“In the end phase, breakdowns become more frequent again, primarily caused by normal long-term wear. But by keeping an eye on the oil, it is possible to gain a good idea of when the machine is about to give up the ghost and take action to avoid an unplanned stoppage,” says Charlotta Brodin.

Solve problems
It is possible to find clues, including particles or water in the oil that should not be there. The analysis shows where you should start to look for the fault and how it can be remedied.

“Water or fuel in the oil can lead to oxidation, which can lead to corrosion, increased friction and ultimately wear in machines and tools. Changes in viscosity and acid value are other factors that the analysis can provide information on,” explains Charlotta Brodin.

It is also important for the test to be done correctly. For the results to be correct, the oil level and temperature in the system must be normal.

“It is also important for the oil to be circulating properly. This improves the chances of making good, equivalent analyses that can then be compared with each other over time,” stresses Charlotta Brodin.

In summary, oil analyses contribute to a more reliable, predictable lubrication system. It is then possible to focus more on planned maintenance, which can, in turn, result in fewer breakdowns, longer oil drain intervals, higher machine efficiency, reduced downtime and ultimately better profitability.

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