What is industrial lubricant analysis?
The analysis of industrial lubricants is a set of techniques and activities carried out to analyse the internal wear of equipment, as well as the performance of the oil itself, by examining its properties.
That is, on the one hand, we can find evidence in the oil that its components are worn. On the other hand, we assess whether the oil is able to fulfil its lubricating function.
Although these are two different aspects, it is important to realise that they are related. The presence of contaminants in the equipment affects the effectiveness of the lubricant, just as a lubricant that does not function 100% as such causes increased wear.
With all this, we achieve benefits such as:
Optimising the amount of lubricant used in the equipment.
Savings in associated costs, such as waste management.
Optimisation of industrial maintenance, which avoids unexpected downtime.
Increased profits through continuous operation.
Increased environmental friendliness by disposing of oil only when necessary.
Types of wear and contamination of lubricants
Evidence of equipment wear and lubricating oil contamination comes from a variety of sources.
The most common are:
Particles such as dust, sand or metal particles rubbing against machine parts.
The result of contact between multiple metal surfaces. As a result, particles are ejected from them.
If the lubricant pressure drops to a certain level, collapsing bubbles are formed and their shock waves cause metal wear.
The metal reacts chemically, usually by oxidation, causing it to decompose.
Result of sustained stress on machine parts.
Presence of water vapour:
Usually due to leaks in the cooling system.
Presence of insoluble substances due to poor lubrication conditions.
How are industrial lubricants analysed?
First, a plan of action must be drawn up:
Determine the area to be sampled.
Frequency of sampling.
Identify suitable materials and equipment.
Determine the samples and the protocol for sending them to the laboratory.
Determine the analysis procedure.
Process the results and interpret them.
Accept the reaction.
Analysis of industrial lubricantsTechniques for the analysis of lubricating oils.
Manufacturers have a variety of analytical techniques available to meet their oil condition measurement needs. The most commonly used methods for detecting contamination are as follows
Identifies and measures small amounts of metals (less than 10 microns).
Emission spectrometry or ICP:
Allows the precise quantification of several elements simultaneously.
Compares lubricant samples with similar lubricants that have not been used to determine the differences between them for the detection of foreign elements.
For metallic particles from 0.1 to 500 microns.
A laser measures the number of particles present in the oil.
In addition, there are techniques to determine the intrinsic properties of lubricants, such as:
One of the basic properties of a lubricant. Viscosity may increase due to degradation and the presence of insoluble particles or it may decrease due to dilution by contamination with other oils.
Oils are usually alkaline to neutralise acidic substances generated by the operation of equipment that can attack and degrade them.
Measures the insulating capacity of the oil.
The ability to dissolve and remove contaminants.
By the end of this article, you will be familiar with the number and variety of alternatives available to industrial managers for monitoring lubricant condition.
But it is not the only way to maintain equipment performance. It is complemented by predictive maintenance activities using artificial intelligence solutions. These provide advanced protection against failures and errors.