May 14, 2020

Revisiting Your Oil Analysis & Maintenance Program

by Jeff Walkup

As with any ongoing continuous improvement initiatives, you should be regularly reviewing the effectiveness of your oil analysis program and corresponding maintenance strategies and procedures. When completing a review, there are many items to consider as you compare what you currently have in place to your ideal state. Let’s review some of these core areas and common questions to consider.

 Mechanical assets

  • When doing an equipment or machinery review, be sure to include all of the assets in your fleet. For example, in a mining operation, include loading units, your haulage fleet, any support equipment or drilling equipment.
  • What is overall age and condition of all equipment?
  • Are there any critical or common maintenance issues that have been identified?

Non-destructive testing programs

  • Look at the various testing programs you currently do such as oil or vibration analysis, ultra-sonic testing and thermography.
  • Are these testing programs done via 3rd party vendor or internally?
  • What’s the status of the technology and software used to manage these programs? Are the results integrated with your CMMS?

Staff resources

  • Conduct interviews with your staff at all levels.
  • Do you have the right resources in place to execute your maintenance programs effectively?
  • Are there any training needs that should be addressed?
  • Do you have succession plans in place to accommodate staff turnover?
  • Do you have program buy-in at all levels, including senior leadership?

Bulk fuel delivery and storage practices

  • Review your current fuel delivery and storage practices to ensure contamination is caught early.
  • Do you have good filtration practices at every stage from delivery to introduction into your equipment?
  • Do you conduct regular fluid testing of bulk storage tanks?
  • Are viscosity tests conducted on site before off-loaded into tanks to prevent oil mix up and cross contamination

Oil Analysis program

  • If you have an existing oil analysis program in place, periodic oil analysis audits will help to identify gaps. If you do not have an oil analysis program, consider investigating implementing one.
  • Do you have documented lubrication processes for your critical assets including sample points, sampling procedures, tests, sampling intervals and action plans?
  • Are you using an internal or 3rd party testing lab? Are you satisfied with current service levels?
  • Do you have measurable goals and KPIs in place? Are you tracking results using dashboards and communicating to key personnel?

PM schedule and drain intervals

  • A review of your current PM schedule may offer opportunities for extended drain intervals. Any extended drain interval program needs to consider how it will integrate with other maintenance schedules.
  • Are your current service intervals based upon OEM recommendations or site specific?
  • Are you taking oil samples on a consistent basis using best pracices?
  • Are drain intervals based upon Scheduled hours or are drains determined by oil condition, oil properties or viscosity?

Your Success is Our Success

As one can see setting there’s a lot that goes into setting up an effective oil analysis and maintenance program. It can be especially daunting if setting up a new program or needing to overhaul an existing program. Furthermore evaluating the results of your program audit is not an exact science. An ineffectively implemented program can trigger premature or ineffective work if all variables are not taken into consideration and program goals are not constantly monitored with reasonable expectation.

By working closely with an oil analysis and reliability partner such as Fluid Life, you gain engineering domain knowledge and critical equipment operational awareness. As you start your review process, we can help to bring clarity and accountability based on years of on-site experience. We’ll help you identify inefficiencies in your current oil analysis programs and lubrication processes, devise and implement plans for improvement and provide sustainable solutions to put you in control.

Contact your Fluid Life representative today and let us help you on your journey to optimized maintenance.