How does Oil Analysis Fit into your overall CM programme?

There are various technology available for CM. Various tools are developed to complement human senses so that sensitivity and analysis can be enhanced.


Take for example, Thermography is tuned to Infra Red (IR) spectrum of light, invisible to human. This technology allow measuring the temperature and also observing temperature profile. In CM this technology is excellent in locating hot-spots. The drawback is that it need a clear line of sight.


Acoustic Emission (AE) is tuned at ultrasonic level, well above 20KHz the highest audible frequency to human. Like a bionic man at this level we can monitor the noise intensity of incipient metal to metal contact in bearings. The increase in noise intensity can be attributed to a much higher level of contact, which will eventually generate harmonics at a much lower frequency that will allow human to hear but at this stage it may be too late.


Ultrasound Technology is actually very similar but perhaps marketed in a slightly different application to AE, more focussed towards gas/air leak detection. The ultrasonic frequency of turbulence is pick-up by a piezo-electric sensor similar to a microphone and then amplified by the instruments. The point of highest noise intensity is the point of leak. However, it may need a clear acoustic channel. If the area is sealed or there are just too many noise it may not be easy, but definitely more sensitive than human ear.


Vibration Analysis (VA) is the most established CM technology. The key strengths are the ability to identify misalignment, balancing and looseness. It can also be used to identify advanced stages of wear, however in some cases it might already be too late for a meaningful intervention.


Oil Analysis (OA) sometimes is called Lube Analysis or Used Oil Analysis is similar to blood check in human. There are many parameters that can be monitored and the main focus are to determine if there are elevated level of wear metals in the oil, or is there an elevated level of contamination in the oil or is the oil still within the OEM specs to be used further. Within the three key focus there are various sub-parameters that can be trended so that a more complete picture of the machine’s health and the oil’s health can be determined.


There are other CM technologies such as Ferrography, Filter Analysis, Fluids Analysis, Emission Analysis, Operating Parameter Analysis etc. that can be used. The technology to be used in CM is almost limitless.


However, it is not how much you know, it is how much you apply that matters. The value of CM can only be derived if relevant information is analysed to identify areas of improvements and that improvements is executed. CM need to be embraced by the whole organisation to be successful. A sustainable programme is needed. A small sustainable improvement is always better.


What is the relative resources allocation for this various technologies? Where do you foresee, the areas of improvements?


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