The majority of all operating manuals provide the equipment user with a time based plan when to change the machine’s oil. This interval is typically designed to protect the oil and subsequently the machine from breaking down prematurely in most if not all operating conditions. So far so good. This comes with a price tag as the machine needs to be properly shut down and locked / tagged out. Besides of the obvious cost for the lubricant you also incur labor and potential production down time cost. For most of the smaller machines requiring less than a gallon of oil for each change it may not make sense to go with a condition based lubricant change. Experts fix what needs fixing and this applies here also. For larger quantities it may make much more sense to go with an oil condition based oil change schedule.
First ponder what constitutes a “larger machine” for you. Prioritize by amount of oil and how crucial the machine is to your plant. Then pick an oil analysis company or diagnostic tool that will provide you with a fast oil analysis result. Best are systems that provide an online access with e-mail notification when there are samples that need attention. If the lubricant is still ok, why would you change it? This helps saving time, labor and oil and thus you can do your part to help conserve resources.
Here are test requirements that the analysis should bring to the table:
- Viscosity at 40C
- Viscosity at 100C
- Water content
- ISO cleanliness grade
- Particle count
One company that offers such a service is ALS Stavely at www.alsstavelylabs.com . Important to any analysis is that there be at least twice a year samples taken. Quarterly and for really crucial pieces of equipment perhaps even monthly trending may be warranted. Assuming viscosity, cleanliness, water and oxidation values are still acceptable there is no need to change the lubricant. Going from a time based to a condition based oil change interval is not only great for your budget, but also for the environment. It helps stretch our precious resources too.
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