We have all heard numerous times that during this time of shrinking budgets, every dollar spent must be spent responsibly. A close look at most equipment maintenance budgets demonstrates oil and lubricants make up only 1-2% of the budget, yet protect one of our most expensive assets, the equipment fleet.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) take many factors into consideration when designating a service interval for any given piece of equipment… L.E.T.S. Load, Environment, Temperature, Speed. Even so, oil does not have a magic switch telling us when its hours are used up. Over time, lubricating oils, which include engine, hydraulic, gear, transmission and others, deteriorate to a point where they no longer offer a piece of equipment the protection it needs and the lubricant must be changed. In many cases, this can be much longer than the OEM’s recommended interval.
What is the only way to safely determine this optimum interval for each piece of equipment?
Fluid/Oil Analysis is defined by Machinery Lubrication Magazine as… “The routine activity of analyzing lubricant properties and suspended contaminants for the purpose of monitoring and reporting timely, meaningful and accurate information on lubricant and machine condition.”
• It is like a “blood test” for the oil in a piece of equipment
• It can reveal the condition of the oil and…
• It can provide valuable information about the health of the machine the oil is protecting
Through time based monitoring, the condition of the oil is tested for contamination and changes in the lubricant, which can help determine if the oil is suitable for continued use. Analysis also helps monitor the condition of the machine and helps identify the type and severity of wear occurring. This practice can help identify problems early so they can be corrected before permanent and more costly damage occurs. It has been said that 98% of all fluid failures are due to some sort of fluid contamination. This contamination can happen any time, even when the oil is brand new. If a system is left unknowingly contaminated for the life of the OEM drain interval, the results could be catastrophic, often resulting in premature failure of an otherwise perfect system.
On average every $1 spent on fluid analysis has the potential to save $10 on the bottom line (fluid replacements, downtime for repairs, failures, etc.) For our turf equipment with very complex hydraulic systems and diesel engines with a price tag in the thousands of dollars, to me this sounds like pretty affordable insurance and money well spent.
Greg Dinger is the Equipment Manager at The Glacier Club in Durango, Co, and is a Field Service Representative for SWEPCO Lubricants. He can be reached at email@example.com