February 3, 2016

Maximizing Your Oil Analysis Process

Do you have the right PLAN, PROCESS, TOOLS and EXPERTISE to realize the maximum value from your oil analysis program?

A successful oil analysis program will stand firm atop these four pillars. If just one of them is missing or weak then the program is at risk to waiver and eventually falls apart. Fluid Life works closely with our customers to help strengthen their programs in all four areas. In part two of this four part series you will find some tips for creating or improving your PROCESS for lubricant analysis.

Have you mapped out the process of lubricant analysis from start to finish?

The process you have on site for lubricant analysis may be simple or complex, documented or not. It is important to note however, that a successful program has many pieces that contribute to that success.

The Lubricant Analysis Process:

Each piece of the process can be broken down in terms of Good, Better and Best practices, but not all practices are available or cost effective in every application.


GOOD: Collecting an oil sample at mid-drain during an oil change.
BETTER: Using sample tubing and a vacuum pump to extract oil from the reservoir.
BEST: Installing an application specific sample fittings in the lubrication circuit after the component, before the filter.
Performance Metric: Resamples – # of Resamples Requested


GOOD: Filling out appropriate information on a provided sample card.
BETTER: Performing online registration of sample information after it has been captured in the field.
BEST: Pre-printing component or sample labels and attaching them to work orders or route sheets to be used by sampling personal in the field.
Performance Metric: Data Integrity – % Missing Information


GOOD: Shipping samples via normal government postal service.
BETTER: Using any courier so packages can be tracked.
BEST: Using return postage-paid priority mailers.
Performance Metric: Transit Time – Avg. # of Days in Transit


GOOD: Review of a problem summary.
BETTER: Review pdfs of all sample results.
BEST: Using provided web portal access to review and acknowledge all sample reports.
Performance Metric: Admin – Avg. Time between Sample Result and Maintenance Request


GOOD: Analyze the returned sample result as an individual.
BETTER: Incorporate trending tools and identify common themes.
BEST: Integrate other available data streams such as onboard monitoring systems or ECU data. In plant applications this would include other PdM tools like vibration, thermography etc.
Performance Metric: Availability – Avg. % Availability

Recommended Action

GOOD: Follow recommended actions on the report supplied by your analysis provider.
BETTER: Engage third party expertise from your analysis provider, equipment OEM, lubricant supplier etc.
BEST: Own the process, attend professional training seminars, read articles, seek advice, participate in online forums, get certified and become your company’s lubricant analysis Champion.
Performance Metric: Component Health – % of Components in Alarm

Execute Maintenance

GOOD: Perform maintenance as per preventive maintenance schedule.
BETTER: Change lubricants based on condition.
BEST: Change out components based on condition instead of benchmark hour targets; where possible, extending useful life.
Performance Metric: Financial – Avg. Oil Drain Intervals / Mean Time between Failures (MTBF)

Confirm Work

GOOD: Submit work notifications or maintenance recommendations without follow up.
BETTER: Search work orders weekly to ensure the work has been performed.
BEST: Follow up on the closed work order, read the notes to assess quality of maintenance action performed and use findings to influence future action levels and recommendations.
Performance Metric: Financial – Total Cost Avoidance / % Return on Investment

Improving Your Process

While changing existing process may seem difficult, it is important to remember that you are not in this alone. For more information as to how Fluid Life can help, please check out our PROCESS development products.