Resources | Technical Documents

WearCheck Knowledge & Expertise

WearCheck has the benefit of a global network of industry knowledge leaders. The following resources are drawn from hundreds of years of their experience in the oil analysis industry. We hope you find these resources helpful in your understanding of oil analysis and provide you with an oil analysis program of increased value.

Technical Documents
Maintenance Strategies

Diesel Emissions : A Breath of Fresh Air (Part 2)

We continue our discussion around reducing air pollution through stricter diesel engine emission standards and techniques. In this Technical Bulletin - the second of a two part series – we examine the intricacies of appropriate lubricant viscosity as well as the performance criteria of a range of additives and how they contribute to the war against harmful emissions, or not.

Maintenance Strategies

Diesel Emissions : A Breath of Fresh Air

As the world moves to adopt more planet-friendly strategies, air pollution is a key focus area for engine-manufacturers and operators. In this technical bulletin - the first of a two part series - global diesel engine emission standards are discussed, along with a range of techniques that reduce emissions, which ones are most effective, and why.

Lubricant Fundamentals

Snake Oil : Promise vs. Performance

Choosing the correct lubricating oil, with or without additives, is critical to the smooth operation of machinery, however, there are many such products for sale which do not actually do what they claim to on the packaging label. As consumers, we need to be extra vigilant in ensuring that the oil we use complies with OEM specifications and indeed contains the additives that are advertised. Beware - what appears to be “cheap” oil (with false additive claims) (also known as “snake oil”) can lead to very expensive damage.

Maintenance Strategies

Navigating the Online Vibration Analysis Minefield

There is currently a notable spike in online installations in all industries, driven by Industry 4.0. This trend is also evident in the condit ion monitoring field. Installing online vibration transducers is a revolutionary step in the monitoring process but can be challenging without knowing what is available in the market and without a comprehensive understanding of the equipment capabilities and the relevant terminology. In this Technical Bulleting, we will guide you through the minefiled of available technology, discussing the different measuring capacities, installation levels and how these can be aligned with your requirements.

Case Studies

Oil Analysis Exposes Fleet Operational Challenges : Agricultural Industry

The challenge facing the agricultural industry is the need to meet high production targets for the agricultural season versus an unpredictable length (climate change impact) of the wet season. In some cases, this leads to the agricultural season starting off during wet weather, thus exposing the fleet to a considerable amount of operational risk.

Maintenance Strategies

The Engine Killers

I have a colleague who believes that engines don’t just simply die, they are murdered. A rather dramatic sentiment, I know, but then we take the death of an engine quite seriously at WearCheck. Being an avid consumer of forensics crime drama television series like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) I feel that I can confidently explain the procedure that takes place once a murder victim has come to the attention of the authorities.

Maintenance Strategies

Reliability, Procurement and Spares Management

Effective asset optimisation plays a key rôle in boosting reliability as well as the efficient management of maintenance costs in any given operation. This Technical Bulletin discusses various scenarios in which maintenance costs can be reduced through improved procurement systems and better management of spares.

Maintenance Strategies

Keep it Clean

In today’s highly competitive global economy, the concept of machine reliability has led many an organisation to make the paradigm shift to proactive maintenance practices that take a holistic approach to asset management and contamination control. This focus on asset management and contamination control has highlighted the important rôle lubricants play in achieving machine reliability. Lubricants are no longer seen as merely consumables, but rather an integral part of a mechanical system having just as much merit as the componentry they lubricate and protect.

Maintenance Strategies

Condition-Based Assessment of On-Load Tap Changers

On-load tap changers (OLTCs) are a crucial element of utility networks, as they must operate in a precise fashion in order to maintain a constant voltage output. This must be achieved regardless of variation on input or load. OLTCs have been a weak link in many networks, as they deteriorate over time due to mechanical problems or contact wear from repeated operation. Erosion of the contacts over time is expected due to the nature of their function. Coking of the contacts causes overheating, which can cause thermal runaway. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure continued proper functioning.

Case Studies

Maintenance Savings Sweeten the Sugar Industry

Case Study : Zambia Sugar. WearCheck’s oil analysis program is anchored in Zambia Sugar’s overall business strategy and entrenched in its overall vision and mission. WearCheck serves as a key stakeholder especially in the area of "Being worldclass and an efficient, low-cost producer, whilst achieving a balanced and integrated economic, social and environmental performance".

Maintenance Strategies

Elimination of Poisonous PCB Contamination in Electrical Equipment

PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) is a highly toxic combination of molecules, which first came into existence in the late 1800s. The prevalence of PCBs mushroomed in the late 1920s as the technical benefits of the chemical compound were recognised and developed. Present day scientists, governments and businesses are tasked with eliminating PCBs as much as possible, due to their harmful, carcinogenic properties.

Contamination

Measuring and Treating Varnish Formation in Turbine Oils

In this Technical Bulletin we discuss the treatment of varnish deposits in turbine oil, control valves and other machinery parts. We also look at what information can be gleaned from the varnish deposits, and how the data can be used to optimise turbine uptime and reduce maintenance costs. Laboratory test methods have now been developed to measure the varnish potential of turbine oils. The test method is colorimetric – it measures the total colour intensity of a patch to determine the varnish potential of the oil. It also can determine certain colour components of the patch which can help to pin-point the stress mode taking place in the oil that is leading to varnish formation.

Maintenance Strategies

CH4 can be Worth so much More (Part 1)

It is said that energy is the blood that runs through the veins of every economy. It is to the survival of an economy what water is to the survival of the human body. Without energy, the wheels of the economy literally do not turn. Energy is consequently a facilitator of economic development and stability. According to the South African department of energy (DoE), energy security within the South African context means ensuring that diverse energy resources, in sustainable quantities and at affordable prices, are available to the South African economy in support of economic development and poverty alleviation, taking into account environmental management requirements.

Maintenance Strategies

CH4 can be Worth so much More (Part 2)

In this final instalment, we will look at what oil analysis can measure in terms of the third function of oil analysis, which is to detect oil degradation. Oil is the lifeblood of any mechanical system and as such has many functions to perform. These functions can be categorised into four fundamental groups: reduction of wear, removal of contaminants, removal of heat and acting as a structural material. All these functions are negatively impacted if the oil physically or chemically degrades.

Maintenance Strategies

Using Oil Analysis to Monitor Your Lubrication Management Program

There is no question that an effective oil analysis program lowers maintenance costs on rotating equipment. The trick is knowing how to run an effective oil analysis program. Companies must be proactive, so that the solution to an oil-related problem is not always an oil change. The real benefit of oil analysis is using the data to steer you towards solutions to eliminate oil issues. Typical Internal Rates of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value over five years (NPV) for a lubrication management program in a medium sized plant are about 150% and $500,000. In this article, I will provide you with best practices for using oil analysis to monitor your lubrication management program.

Maintenance Strategies

World-Class Lubrication Management for Gearboxes

As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." When it comes to maintenance of your plant's gearboxes, this is definitely true. By using an industry-leading Lubrigard gearbox adapter kit to perform regular maintenance, a company will save money and time, reduce operating costs and have longer-lasting, more reliable equipment. For an average $600 investment, a company can protect an $80,000 piece of equipment.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Holistic Diagnosis

Anyone reading this technical bulletin will be familiar with the condition monitoring technique of oil analysis. A small sample of oil is drawn from a lubricated piece of machinery and analysed for the presence of wear debris and contaminants, as well as an assessment of the health of the oil itself. So far, so good, the oil (or grease) can be subject to a whole battery of physical and chemical tests which, in turn, can provide upward of 50 (in the case of a fully comprehensive analysis) different parameters that need to be assessed in order to determine the health of the machine, the health of the oil and the levels of contamination.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Talking Turbine Testing

This Technical Bulleting discusses a variety of turbine sample tests - how they are conducted, and what information they provide. The test results enable the best remedial action to be taken for the component in question, in turn boosting the reliability of the turbine by maintaining the oil - which is often a large financial investment - in peak operating condition.

Case Studies

Reaping the Renewable Whirlwind

The estimated life span of wind turbines is about 20 years, compared to conventional steam turbine generator units that have averaged 40 years. The failure rate of wind turbines is about three times higher than that of conventional generators and this has historically been attributed to constantly changing loads experienced by the wind turbine as a result of environmental variants. Due to these highly variable operational conditions the mechanical stress placed on wind turbines is incomparable in any other form of power generation and they consequently require a high degree of maintenance to provide cost effective and reliable power output throughout their expected 20 year life cycle. The wind turbine gearbox is the most critical component in terms of high failure rates and down time.

Maintenance Strategies

Oil - An Asset, Not a Consumable

The days of "oil is oil" have long gone. It is vitally important that in this day and age, oil needs to be considered as an asset rather than just a consumable, and as an asset, it needs to be managed. This brief paper will take a look at how oils are selected and then managed throughout the plant as a valuable asset like any other piece of industrial equipment.

Oil Condition

Acids and Bases, the "Spy vs. Spy" of the Lubrication Game

In many ways, the properties of acids and bases are embodied by the classic cartoon strip, “Spy vs. Spy”, which was fi rst published in Mad Magazine in 1961. This Technical Bulletin will help you understand what acids and bases are all about, why they need to be assessed, methods of assessment and what these parameters have to do with industrial and mobile equipment. If the amount of acid or base present in your oil is unfavourable, then the oil – or more critically, the machine – can be damaged. It is thus essential to understand these terms with reference to oil analysis in order to get the best life from your assets by reducing downtime and minimising costly repairs.

Contamination

SOS : Sources of Silicon

Oil analysis is a well-established condition monitoring technique that has been with us since the late 1940s. It originally developed from a need to monitor main bearing wear in locomotive engines in the United States by spectrometrically measuring the amount of lead in the engine oil. Oil analysis has come a very long way in the last 60 years with the introduction of a whole range of tests that include acid and base numbers, particle counting, infra-red spectroscopy, viscosity, water and fuel contamination and many, many more. However, spectrometric analysis still remains at the core of any oil analysis programme and provides the greatest amount of information in the shortest possible time and at the lowest cost.

Contamination

Liquid Chromatography and it`s Application in Transformer Oil Analysis

The laboratories of condition monitoring specialists WearCheck are equipped to monitor oil and fluids from a wide array of industrial machinery, including transformer oil, utilising a number of sophisticated analytical techniques, one of which is the focus of this Technical Bulletin. Before I get into the liquid chromatography technique, I would like to briefly cover what it is we would use this technique for, and why.

Contamination

Solids, Liquids and Gases

In this bulletin we discuss solids, liquids and gases and how they relate to dirt, water and air – three of the most common contaminants found in oil. We look at what they are, what causes them, what damage they do, how we detect them and how to prevent them from causing problems.

Oil Condition

How do Oils Degrade?

Oils have a finite lifetime - they will eventually degrade and/or become contaminated and will need to be changed. Lubricants consist of a base stock that can either be mineral or synthetic. In the case of synthetic base stocks, these are a family of compounds that are manufactured in a laboratory to have precisely the properties that the chemists and engineers want. Mineral base stocks are derived from crude oil that comes out of the ground and is refi ned to produce a base stock that can do the desired job. Synthetic bases are superior to mineral ones but are much more expensive.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

The Month End Report - A Wealth of Valuable and Useful Information

The month end or management report contains a wealth of very valuable and useful information. It comprises a statistical distillation of the previous month’s samples and compares these data to the previous twelve months. Analyses include a variety of parameters that will give the customer a good idea of how effective their oil analysis programme is and where the problem areas lie in terms of what the problems are, what components are affected and how severe the problems are.

Lubricant Fundamentals

Base Stocks & Additives - How oils are formulated

There are tens of thousands of different lubricants on the market, from simple hydraulic fluids to very sophisticated synthetic oils formulated for high performance engines. Think of the technology that is required to lubricate a formula one racing car; after the race the team is more likely to change the engine than the oil!

Wear

Where does all that Metal come From?

Oil analysis involves the extract ion of a small, representative sample of oil from a lubricated piece of machinery and subjecting it to a whole battery of chemical and physical tests in a laboratory. The data is then interpreted to produce a report. There are three fundamental areas of interest in an oil analysis report: the health of the machine being sampled, the health of the oil lubricating that machine and the levels of contamination.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Driven to Detect Deterioration

What do the results mean? This is a very common question asked of the diagnosticians at WearCheck. The answer to this is to read the diagnosis because this is the distillation of all the inputs that the company receives. What the diagnostics department does every day as a service to customers, diagnosing sample results, comes easily when there are years of experience at hand and the diagnostic processes are designed in-house to streamline what could be a difficult, highly complex and time-consuming job. This diagnostic process is underpinned with many very sophisticated software systems that have all been specified by the department and written in-house. These processes run in the background and ensure that the diagnosis is made timeously, accurately and efficiently. This bulletin will shed some light on how the diagnostics department takes the multitude of information attached to each sample and uses it to supply the customer with a meaningful diagnosis.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Limits - the Robots of Oil Analysis

Questions on limits on oil analysis parameters, such as wear levels, additive levels and viscosity are high on the list of those that the WearCheck diagnosticians field most often. “When is the iron too high?”, “how much viscosity increase is acceptable?” and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, there are not always hard and fast answers to these questions; in fact there are seldom such answers.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

The Best Oil Analysis Programs Start with a Good Sample

The accuracy of analysis of an oil sample is greatly influenced by two aspects of the whole procedure the customer controls: how the sample is taken and the information accompanying the sample. The latter has been dealt with in previous technical bulletins. The taking of an oil sample is where the whole analytical process begins. All the sophisticated oil analysis tools, techniques and diagnostic processes are meaningless if the oil sample fails to represent the actual condition of the oil in service in the machine.

Oil Condition

Predicting the Remaining Useful Life of Your Lubricant

Lubricants do not last forever - a statement well understood by lubricant users all over the world. They are susceptible to the ageing process like most things on earth. An example of the aging process that is witnessed by everyone is the human skin. It ages with time and degrades by a process known as oxidation. Lubricants are no exception. Oxidation is currently being accepted as the major cause of lubricant ageing/degradation.

Maintenance Strategies

The Low-down on Lower Emissions array(Part 1)

The automotive industry in South Africa is largely focused at the moment on lowering vehicle exhaust emissions. This follows a global movement towards more stringent air emission control laws in man’s attempt to slow down the destruction of our planet through global warming. So what is all the hype about? A basic understanding of the fundamentals of global warming in terms of the greenhouse effect is needed in order to understand the advances the automotive industry is implementing to combat dangerous exhaust emissions.

Maintenance Strategies

The Low-down on Lower Emissions array(Part 2)

It was seen in the last Technical Bulletin that, in order to reduce our effect on the environment due to harmful vehicular exhaust emissions, we need to ensure a reduction of the emissions. This is now reality due to the new laws being implemented around the world. So what is being done to ensure this happens and what part do we, as the consumer and concerned citizen, play in all this?

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

The Effects of Temperature on Engine Lubricating Oil

The effect of temperature on engine lubricating oil is an important consideration to take into account when operating a large fleet of vehicles. Except for electrically powered units, all vehicles are powered by a combustion engine of some description, be it fuelled by gas, petrol or diesel.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Analysing Used Oil....What are the Benefits?

In a recent meeting we were discussing what the topic for the next technical bulletin should be. After writing technical bulletins for fifteen years it suddenly dawned on me that we have never written a bulletin outlining the benefits of performing used oil analysis. I have written brochures and I can find at least two dozen PowerPoint presentations that address this question but the material has never ended up in this format. So, without further ado, what are the benefits of a well-run oil analysis programme?

Lubricant Fundamentals

The Ups and Downs of Viscosity

The topic of viscosity has been covered extensively in many technical bulletins and with good reason. The viscosity of a lubricant is its most important physical property and it is this property that defines the very essence of the oil. Viscosity grading systems such as the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) for automotive oils and the ISO (International Standards Organisation) for industrial applications have received universal acceptance as a means of classifying lubricants.

Oil Condition

If you can`t stand the Heat...

Earlier this year we published a Technical Bulletin on the ups and downs of viscosity. This was an important topic to cover as the viscosity of an oil is its most fundamentally important property. Both physical and chemical degradation can cause a change in the viscosity of an oil and, in terms of an increase in viscosity, poor combustion and sludging have been covered extensively in a number of Technical Bulletins. This Technical Bulletin will deal with high temperature operation and the effect it has on the rate of oxidation and, in turn, the degradation of lubricating oils and consequent increase in their viscosity.

Oil Condition

Transformer Oil Analysis

It is well known that regular oil analysis is extremely useful in monitoring the condition of engines, drivetrains, hydraulics, turbines and many other types of oil lubricated equipment. The same can be said for transformer oils which are used to insulate many transformers and other electrical distribution equipment. The analysis of transformer oils not only provides information about the oil, but also enables the detection of other potential problems, including contact arcing, ageing insulating paper and other latent faults and is an indispensable part of a cost efficient electrical maintenance programme.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Why Cheap Oil Analysis Might be More Expensive

Wearcheck provides its customers with a wide range of tests that cover most problems encountered in most types of equipment in most types of environments and applications. There are obviously a range of tests that some of our clients would like us to do but are cost prohibitive. Laboratory equipment, like earthmoving equipment, is expensive and we too have a weak Rand working against us. It is very difficult to justify spending a million Rand on a laboratory instrument if we are only going to use it for a few tests per month, and customers would not be prepared to pay a couple of thousand per sample in order to make the equipment pay for itself. Having said that, every effort is made to outsource tests that we cannot do.

Maintenance Strategies

Clean Oil Saves Money

In our current economic age, companies are forced to pursue every avenue for cost saving to ensure that their chance of financial success is maximised. Lubricated mechanical equipment is a significant cost to many companies and, through careful management, significant savings can be achieved. This technical bulletin looks at particle counting, explains the jargon and technology, and shows you how by monitoring your oil’s cleanliness you can reduce repairs, maintenance costs and downtime and save on your bottom line.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Why Oil Analysis Programs Sometimes Fail

Before looking at the effective management of oil analysis programmes it is salutary to look first at the reason why these programmes sometimes do not work. The service provider is frequently blamed for the failure of a doomed oil analysis programme when the fault almost always lies with the end user. This is generally not as a result of poor management but a lack of education and understanding.

Contamination

Dirty Diesel

Although not an issue in terms of contamination, sulphur is an area of concern. There is a range of valid reasons for the removal of sulphur from our diesel supplies. The first most pressing reason is that high sulphur diesels produce sulphur oxides on combustion which, when dissolved in the other by-product of combustion – water - form strong acids. When these acids condense they attack the metal surfaces of valve guides, cylinder liners and bearings. The acids produced are neutralised by the engine lubricant and, in doing so, reduce the working life of the lubricant necessitating shorter drain intervals.

Maintenance Strategies

How to calculate the effect Oil Analysis has on the Bottom Line

Over the last ten years there has been a paradigm shift that has seen maintenance become almost synonymous with achieving reliability. Let"s start by looking at a few definitions.

Maintenance Strategies

The humble sub-form is the linchpin of oil analysis array(Part 1)

In countless articles, seminars, training courses and technical bulletins it has been stressed that there are two main reasons for an oil analysis programme to fail. The first is that the oil sample is not representative of the oil in the system, in other words, the dreaded ‘bad sample’. The second involves information regarding the sample. This can either be wrong or, quite simply, missing. In the majority of cases it is the second reason that causes the most problems, not just in terms of the diagnosis but for data processing and the laboratory.

Maintenance Strategies

The humble sub-form is the linchpin of oil analysis array(Part 2)

This is the second part of the article on how to submit a submission form and what can go wrong if any information is missing or incorrect. This is vitally important considering that 20% of all samples are submitted to Wearcheck with incorrect or insufficient details, causing costly delays and hampering accurate diagnosis. An example of a submission form appears on page 3.

Maintenance Strategies

Keep your cool array(Managing Cooling Systems)

During operation, all internal combustion engines produce heat as a by-product of combustion. The temperature of burning fuel can reach 2000°C. However, only about 33% of this is transferred into power through the crankshaft. Approximately 30% is expelled through the exhaust whilst another 7% or so is lost through radiation. The remaining 30% must be dissipated through a cooling system. In addition to removing heat from burnt fuel, the cooling system also removes heat from other sources such as turbochargers, torque converters and hydraulic or transmission oil coolers.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Why are there so many oils?

There is a common misconception that ‘oil is just oil’ and this simply is not the case. Consider the many types of machines that need lubrication and that these machines can operate in many different environments doing many different jobs. There are also dozens of different oil suppliers who can supply thousands of different oils based on viscosity and additive chemistry which dictate their function. This is why there is such a variety of oils in the market place. This technical bulletin will look at the different classes of oils (liquid lubricants) and why they are different.

Contamination

We are ready for more soot

Get Ready for More Soot’ is the title of an article written by Drew Troyer of the Noria Corporation for publication in Practising Oil Analysis. It deals in part with the effect that current and proposed environmental legislation would have on the performance of engine lubricants. This Technical Bulletin takes a close look at soot, why it is a problem, why is it becoming more of a problem and how to measure its presence in oil.

Contamination

Detecting Particles in Oil (Part 1)

In simple terms, monitoring wear particles in used oil samples from plant and equipment enables specialists to decide whether they are normal or abnormal and what the likely consequences will be for the machine. In real terms, this is a fairly complicated process. This technical bulletin outlines some of the techniques used in Wearcheck"s oil analysis laboratories to detect and quantify particle contamination, and discusses the value and limitations of these methods in detecting abnormal wear situations.

Contamination

Detecting Particles in Oil (Part 2)

In the last technical bulletin we looked at four of the seven techniques used in Wearcheck"s oil analysis laboratories to detect and quantify particle contamination, as well as the value and limitations of these methods in detecting abnormal wear situations. In this issue we examine the remaining three techniques.

Lubricant Fundamentals

How does Oil Work?

Friction is a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. Walking, writing, opening doors and drawers and driving to work all involve energy being expended in order to overcome friction. Although friction is generally thought of as a negative mechanical characteristic (approximately 20% of a car"s energy is spent in overcoming friction) it must be remembered that without it we would not be able to walk and the brakes on our cars would not work.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Engine Troubleshooting Checklist

Air intake system check; Air cleaner element holed or not sealing correctly; Incorrect size air cleaner element for type of housing.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Greek for beginners (part2) - or the tests and what they tell us

In the last Technical Bulletin we looked at the four tests which every sample receives. We now take a look at tests specific to various sample test classes, and extra tests which are triggered in extraordinary circumstances.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Drivetrain Components Troubleshooting Checklist

Abnormal Wear/Debris Checks; Check magnetic drain plug for particles and examine; Check magnetic screens.

Maintenance Strategies

The Perils, Pitfalls and Perks of extending oil drain periods

The extension of oil drain periods has long been an area of debate. There are many benefits to be obtained from extending oil drain periods and doing so is a legal requirement in certain countries around the world. These benefits are just as applicable to South Africa but it would be foolish to try to apply parameters recommended for European, Japanese or North American conditions (the source of most diesel engine technology) to this country.

Maintenance Strategies

Clean up your act

It is widely accepted that oil contamination is the one of the major causes of component failure. When practising proactive maintenance it therefore makes sense to give oil cleanliness a high priority. This technical bulletin will deal primarily with particulate contamination, the causes, and how to avoid it. By maintaining a high level of oil cleanliness, machinery failure, resultant downtime and expensive repair costs can be kept to a minimum.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Greek for beginners (part1) - or the tests and what they tell us

Two of the most common questions Wearcheck"s diagnosticians are asked are: "What tests do you do?" and "How do I interpret the results?" The first question is easy to answer, the second not quite so. In addition to their formal academic instruction, all Wearcheck diagnosticians undergo a six month internal training programme before they get their wings. During this time they diagnose twenty-five to thirty thousand samples, each of which is vetted by a qualified diagnostician before being accepted. The reasons for this are that the tests are so inter-related and mutually dependent that interpretation of the results is not always straightforward. Knowing this it is easy to appreciate the impossibility of putting the whole process of diagnosis into a few lines.

Oil Condition

Monitoring Oil Degradation with Infrared Spectroscopy

What is infrared? This thing that allows us to "see" in the dark, helps secure our homes, allows those couch potatoes amongst us to change the channel on the TV without leaving our seats and, in our case, monitor oil degradation. To answer this we need to take a look at the electromagnetic spectrum. To many, the electromagnetic spectrum is a formidable subject, yet to the analytical chemist it is a tool so useful it is without comparison. The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of electromagnetic waves. These are waves of energy that have both an electrical and magnetic component. These waves all travel at the same velocity - the speed of light (approximately 299 792 km per second) but their properties are determined by their frequency and wavelength.

Contamination

Sludge

Sludge (noun) : Thick, greasy mud; sewage; muddy or slushy sediment or deposit; accumulation of dirty oil, esp. in sump of internal combustion engine. This is how the Oxford English Dictionary defines sludge and it is a very accurate description of what is found in the sumps of internal combustion engines. In this case, sludge is a collection of resins, lacquers, combustion by-products, oil degradation by-products, water, dirt and wear metals. However, to the tribologist and the mechanical engineer there is a more specific definition for the word sludge: fuel soot, a combustion by-product. This can lead to come confusion as the two definitions are frequently used interchangeably.

Wear

What is RPD ferrography?

Oil analysis, including ferrography, provides the greatest value for money of any maintenance monitoring technique. While most maintenance managers are familiar with the general concept of oil analysis, ferrography is less understood. This Technical Bulletin describes how ferrography fits into the overall oil analysis picture, with particularly emphasis on RPD (rotary particle deposition) ferrography and how it can be integrated into a maintenance programme to achieve substantial financial benefits at relatively low cost.

Wear

Oil pressure mapping to measure bearing wear

One of the current buzzwords being used in condition monitoring is oil pressure mapping. This technical bulletin explains oil pressure mapping, why this diagnostic technique was developed and how it is used to measure engine bearing wear.

Wear

Wear limits versus trends

Common questions asked by people using oil analysis are `What wear limits do you use?", "What levels are normal?", and "What levels are abnormal?" These are not unreasonable questions. A number of OEM"s (original equipment manufacturers) do have wear limits for their equipment but unfortunately they are not an effective means of determining the health of a component. The levels of contamination and particularly wear debris in an oil sample are dependent on too many factors for an equipment manufacturer to set out nice, neat wear tables that say, for example, 0 - 50 is okay, 50 - 100 indicates a problem, and over 100 is very serious. This runs the risk of saying that 49 `whatevers" is acceptable and 51 is not when, in this case, there is only a difference of 4%.

Wear

Debris Analysis

The wear readings traditionally encountered in oil analysis are expressed as a percentage, or more commonly as PPM (parts per million) with 1 PPM being equal to 1/10000th of 1% (eg. Fe = 100 PPM). These concentrations are measured with a spectrometer, in Wearcheck’s case an ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) spectrometer. There is a fundamental limitation to measuring the concentration of wear debris with this technique. Because of the way that these instruments work, particles greater than 8 - 10 m (micron) cannot be detected. It is obvious that a critical wear situation could exist with large particles present but the iron concentration might be low, i.e. most of the wear particles are greater than 10 m in size and would not be picked up by the spectrometer.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

On-Site Analysis - Blessing or Burden?

The concept of on-site analysis (OSA) - a company setting up a small laboratory on its premises where it performs its own oil analysis instead of contracting it out to a specialised external oil analysis laboratory - has been around for many years. The sort of organisations that have opted for OSA are usually large operations in out of the way places such as mines where transporting oil samples is difficult and time-consuming, or where security considerations create problems such as on diamond mines.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Your Questions Answered (FAQ for Oil Analysis Laboratories)

Wearcheck technical staff are always happy to answer queries from customers to help them get the most from their oil analysis programme. For the benefit of all Wearcheck customers, we have put together the most commonly asked questions and feature them, along with the answers, in this technical bulletin.

Maintenance Strategies

Implementing Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)

Using RCM to develop an initial maintenance program for new equipment as well as scheduled maintenance for existing plant, involves a structured decision-making process based on the consequences of functional failure of this equipment. RCM analysis produces a program which includes all scheduled tasks - and only those tasks - necessary to ensure safety and operating economy. The decision-making logic behind RCM analysis applies to any complex equipment which requires a maintenance support program aimed at maximizing operating reliability at the lowest cost.

Maintenance Strategies

Condition-Monitoring, Oil Analysis & More

In this day and age, predictive maintenance and condition monitoring are necessities for any company that has machinery which is critical in achieving production goals. Oil analysis is a condition monitoring technique that has been in use for more than 50 years and has proved to be a highly effective management tool for monitoring the health of lubricated machinery and the lubricants themselves. However, oil analysis is not the only condition monitoring technique available to today"s maintenance professional. Other techniques such as vibration monitoring, thermography and ultra-sonic analysis can also be used. This Technical Bulletin will look at the evolution of maintenance philosophies, the goals of a condition monitoring programme and how a combination of different analytical practices can be used to achieve these goals.

Maintenance Strategies

Reliability-Centered Maintenance

Maintenance philosophies and practices have been around for many years - the objective of these philosophies being the economic consideration of optimizing plant availability in industry. There has been a steady evolution from breakdown maintenance to predictive maintenance to proactive maintenance in the quest to keep industrial equipment operating economically, efficiently and safely.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

How to get the most out of your Oil Analysis Program

The effectiveness of an oil analysis program is significantly affected by how well maintenance staff understand the program and by the quality of their input to WearCheck. This bulletin gives an insight into the different factors which can influence the effectiveness of oil analysis and so help companies get the best results from their program.

Oil Condition

Infrared Analysis as a Tool for Assessing Degradation in Used Engine Lubricants

The use of infrared spectroscopy for routine monitoring of oil-lubricated components, breakdown products and contaminants has not been widely used in the past, although infrared studies of lubrication oils themselves have been performed for a number of years. The reason for this is that older dispersive infrared spectrometers would take several minutes to generate a spectrum of the used oil and then considerable additional time would be needed to reduce and interpret spectral data.

Lubricant Fundamentals

How to Read a Can of Oil (Part 1)

When purchasing a can, drum or tankerful of oil, it is important to realize that a number of international classification systems are used to describe the product and its uses. The classifications, which include ISO, SAE, API, CCMC, SABS, JAMA and ISLS, are each followed by a series of numbers and letters detailing either the viscosity of the oil or its performance properties. This bulletin will examine viscosity classification while the performance characteristics of oil will be covered in a later issue.

Lubricant Fundamentals

How to Read a Can of Oil (Part 2)

In part one of "How to read a can of oil", the focus was on the viscosity classification systems of lubricants, namely the International Standards Organisation (ISO) system for industrial lubricants and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) system for automotive oils. This technical bulletin will concentrate on the performance specifications of oils, addressing the following questions: What can I use this oil for? Which oil is suitable for the different types of equipment? Is one product better than another?

Lubricant Fundamentals

An Introduction to Synthetic Oils

Synthetic lubricants are a product of the trend towards increasingly complex industrial and automotive equipment designed to meet ever more severe operating conditions - such as extremes of temperature in the operating cycle, the need for sealed-for-life components or extended overhaul periods. In these cases the equipment has exceeded the performance capabilities of conventional mineral oil based lubricants, and created the need to develop synthetic oils.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Direct Reading and Analytical Ferrography

According to Webster’s dictionary tribology is "the study of lubrication", and comes from the Greek tribein, which means "to rub". When two components in a lubricated system rub, wear particles are generated. Contrary to what you might think, wear particles do not come in all sizes and shapes. There are, in fact, only a handful of distinct types of wear particles, and these particles occur in only specific size ranges. The most common wear particle in a lubricated system is the normal rubbing wear particle.

Oil Condition

Oxidation and Oxi-polymerization of Oils

Degradation of oils in service is an inherent part of their use. The rate at which oils degrade is dependent on several factors including the chemistry of the oil basestock, the type and amount of various inhibitors, and additives present in the oil, and the operating conditions of the oil over its service life. The main factors that attribute to the extended life of an oil in service are its thermal and oxidative stability. Thermal stability represents the oils ability to resist chemical change with increasing temperature in the absence of oxygen. Oxidation stability is the oils ability to resist chemical change, typically with increasing temperature, in the presence of oxygen.

Oil Analysis Fundamentals

Laboratories at Work: Used Oil Analysis at WearCheck Belgium

Used oil analysis is comparable to a medical analysis with a blood test. Like blood, lubricating oil contains a good deal of information about the envelope in which it circulates. Wear of metallic parts, for example, produces a lot of minute particles, which are carried by the lubricant. These small metal particles can give information about the machine elements that are wearing, and can be detected by various methods, for example, Atomic Emission Spectrometry. Determination of larger particles can be done using optical or electronic microscopy, or ferrography.

Contamination

Silicon....enemy number one

After oxygen, silicon is the most abundant element in the earth"s crust. Silicon does not occur naturally in elemental form but rather combined with oxygen in a compound called silica (silicon dioxide). Silica occurs in a free form (quartz, sand, etc.) or combined with a variety of metallic oxides, in which case it is called a silicate (eg. Felspar). Another class of silicon compounds that should not be confused with silica and silicates is silicones. Silicones are man-made organic compounds that find extensive application in the polish, paint and lubrication industries.

Contamination

Particle Counting and Contamination Analysis in Fluid Power Systems

Typically most oil analysis companies have relied on spectrometric and debris analysis for the detection of wear particles and contaminants in the oil lubricated components. The ICP (inductively coupled plasm) spectrometer used by WearCheck is limited to a maximum particle size of eight microns that it can detect, so other techniques must be employed to detect larger wear particles and contaminants. The ideal situation would be to filter all oil samples and examine any debris under a microscope; this is highly labour intensive in terms of sample preparation and visual analysis of the debris and only provides a qualitative description of the debris.

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