Ian Miller, Business Development Manager, Motion
Lubrication management is crucial to developing a successful preventive maintenance program. Like with most preventive measures, information is key. The better your information and ability to interpret that data, the better your results will be. This is why the best lubrication management programs also include proper sampling, testing and analysis of in-service lubricants. When properly executed, a robust sampling program can give vital insights into equipment condition.
The insights gleaned from analysis can, in turn, help evaluate the predicted life for that equipment and further the proper scheduling of service. This ultimately translates into savings for the equipment owner. These savings are delivered by preventing expensive overhaul/replacement costs, maximizing lubricant life, and minimizing or completely avoiding unexpected downtime or even catastrophic failure.
A good analogy to consider is taking a blood sample during your annual physical. Such tests analyze platelet count, cholesterol, iron levels, glucose, etc. This information gives a doctor key indication of a patient’s physical health. The same is true for mechanical equipment. Similar mechanical health inferences can be made by reviewing things like particle count, element analysis, viscosity, water content, TAN (total acid number) rating, etc.
Common Testing Methods
Gaining knowledge during testing (along with knowing which tests to request) is just one part of the process. Using that information to fine-tune preventive maintenance schedules is how you can realize the cost savings. A maintenance team can more effectively schedule tasks like filter/oil changes, follow-up inspections, targeting equipment for inspection, and preemptive removal and maintenance of equipment. While allowing for risk evaluation, this enhances the ability to weigh the potential of an unexpected outage against production schedules and targets.
Catastrophic failures can have far-reaching implications past the mere cost of replacement. Lost production, labor costs, safety concerns and damage to other equipment are all considerations. By establishing a baseline through regular oil analysis and monitoring for increased iron, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, aluminum, copper, tin, lead, silver, sodium and particle count, etc., you can build a predictive model for component failure, and thus avoid it.
Based out of Calgary, Ian Miller P. Eng. is a National Services Business Development Manager at Motion. He has over a decade of hydraulic and electrical experience in the field, including system design, troubleshooting, on-site installations and technical training/support.
For more information, visit Motion.com/pte or Motion’s Fluid Power Knowledge Link (motionind.biz/3mXrsRa).