Link Oil Analysis to Vibration Analysis
Oil analysis is considered the best early indicator of a future problem with critical rotating equipment. Vibration analysis is a critical tool to detect whether equipment already has a problem that needs to be addressed. Most plants and facilties with a dedicated equipment reliability program utilize vibration analysis software – data storage, trending, and reporting. It’s useful to mesh oil analysis results into vibration software for a comparison trend, as well as for several other reasons:
- There’s already a vibration analysis software package in use and there’s no need to use a standalone oil analysis package to visualize and report those findings
- Procedures for vibration analysis are likely already established. Dovetailing oil analysis into an established program is more likely to ensure a sustained commitment to utilizing oil analysis results to make reliability decisions
- The most important benefit of oil analysis is detecting wear metals at an early stage: first appear the wear metals, then the vibration, leading to eventual rotating equipment failure. Consider this typical observation from a from an oil analysis report evaluator noticing an increase in wear metals particles in an oil sample, “Increase in Babbitt material and iron detected by spectroscopy. This is likely early stage bearing failure. Recommend checking for noise or vibration.” By integrating the oil analysis results and recommendations into the vibration software you increase the likelihood that the vibration specialist will react quickly to investigate.
Take a Portfolio View of Your Oil Analysis Reports
A Routine Oil Analysis Program should include sampling ALL critical rotating equipment at the facility at the appropriate interval (monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually) and it’s a predictive tool and not a reactive tool. The measurement of success in routine oil analysis is reporting there are no issues with lubricated equipment or oil condition detected by the lab tests. Having zero issues is almost impossible, but striving to minimize Watch and Warning Alarms on lab reports can focus your group to completing worthwhile maintenance tasks that lead to increased reliability.
The Road Map
From the lab’s perspective with the influence of reliability professionals’ input, here’s a bullet point strategy for enhancing an oil analysis program which leads to fewer unexpected failures:
- Coordinate oil analysis data with vibration data utilizing what’s already established on the vibration side (previously stated)
- Revisit the routine oil analysis timeline and provide this to your lab and seek their input
- If your lab is able to provide, request lab results in an importable format to your vibration software, alongside the batch of traditional lab reports
- Count and quantily the alarms triggered on the lab reports for machine condition and oil condition. Start a list and break it out in a format that works for your group to track over time
- We suggest you develop a scoring system, so samples that trigger more than one alarm earn more points and locations that have repeat alarms over time also earn more points
- Repeat offenders should rise to the top of the maintenance priority list, especially if it’s because of wear metal particles, which can increase exponentially over time, or severe water contamination
- Look for when the laboratory recommends vibration analysis or thermography
- Set goals of reducing the alarms over time that are triggered by oil analysis lab reports. Make a realistic timeline based on available hours of the reliability team
- Examine the alarm thresholds that the lab has set for your facility. Are they correct? Is that acid number alarm properly set compared to the acid number of new oil? Is it even possible to achieve an ISO Cleanliness Code as low as the alarm level is set? What is the cleanliness of new oil going into the system? Answering questions such as these, and validating that lab report alarms are properly set is a worthwhile activity in the battle to reduce lab report alarms over time
There must be site specific fine tuning and customization to this list, but hopefully some of this adds structure to your routine oil analysis program in the effort to minimize unexpected downtime.