Reliability Articles

Improve Your Asset Performance with Comprehensive Oil Analysis Condition Monitoring

In asset management, decisions made must be based on risk that balances asset performance and costs. This can be created through reliability management. With reliability management, we will know how to keep an equipment functioning optimally for a certain period of time without experiencing failure.

Things that support reliability management and asset management are condition management or PdM technology management. Condition management is a maintenance strategy of a plant based on the condition of the equipment not based on time, which aims to make decisions in optimizing the scope of overhaul, determining whether to replace or refurbish equipment. Meanwhile, PdM Technology is a condition monitoring activity that collects data on condition indicators of an equipment using PdM Technology.

In this article, we will talk about one of the PDM technologies that must be done for critical assets, namely Oil Condition Monitoring. The main operating costs for running and maintaining a large engine generator are the material and labor costs associated with changing the oil based on fixed operating time intervals. This routine is recommended by the engine manufacturer and increasingly by local regulations aimed at limiting emissions (EPA NESHAP rules).

The US EPA mandates oil changes for stationary engines used for emergency backup power. There is a problem with scheduled oil changes that annoys engine owners: Good oil is changed unnecessarily. Not all generators run on the same amount of load; therefore, it is possible that an oil change is not required for a particular generator at the recommended replacement interval. This in fact leads to an increase in operational costs and wastage of materials, labor, efficient use of service engineers and recycling costs. If the oil change interval can be extended for even a small part of the generator, the cost savings can be significant.

An example can be explained through a case study experienced by ES3, one of the world’s largest automated facilities for the distribution of groceries. They decided to pursue the idea of ​​building an on-site lubrication laboratory. At that time, the ACP ES3 automation manager worked closely with many of the robotics and automation components within the facility. Before, they didn’t check their oil and they didn’t check it like they should, as a result they started spending a lot of money.

“The failure of our engines and our inability to control them cost us so much that they received a lot of attention and we needed to find new strategies to deal with them.” said the ACP ES3 automation manager.

ES3’s new strategy includes on-site lubricant analysis focused on quickly understanding oil conditions. Working closely with reliability consultants and obtaining certification through the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), the ES3 is set to succeed when approaching management with the pioneering idea of ​​oil analysis at this location.

In short, advances in oil analysis technology make portable and accurate oil condition monitoring tools available to maintenance professionals. Now, those managing a fleet of engines can easily implement condition-based oil change practices. This lowers operating costs by reducing unnecessary oil change waste and maintenance costs by preventing fatal failures and increasing machine reliability.




Zhao, Y., Reducing Routine Maintenance Costs of Engine Generator Sets with New Portable Oil Analysis Tools. Accessed from spectrosci.com

William, L., Sanderson, T., & Orr, C. (September-Oktober 2020). Predictive Maintenance Strategies: Prove Strong in COVID-19 Era for Grocery Distribution Center ES3. Accessed from spectrosci.com

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