Key steps in sampling industrial oils

Oil sampling plays an essential role in the maintenance of manufacturing industries.

It allows monitoring the condition of oils used in industrial equipment, detecting potential problems, optimizing the lifespan of oils and equipment, and reducing maintenance costs.

A study conducted by the Institute of Maintenance and Reliability (IMR), in the United States, revealed that the use of good oil sampling practices can reduce preventive maintenance costs by up to 35%.

Optimizing Preparation for Sampling

Safety precautions: Before proceeding with the sampling, ensure that you take appropriate safety measures. This includes wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, and suitable clothing.

Recommended sampling materials: Transparent sampling bottle and its transport bottle, a reusable draining bottle, a marker, a vacuum pump, and a plastic sampling tube, a minimess adapter, and a rag/cloth. Ensure that the equipment and tools used for sampling are clean and in good working condition.

Preparation for routes: Identify the sampling route to be taken and have the sample identification labels with you.

Choice of sampling point: To collect representative samples, the sampling point should be in an area where the fluid is in motion, when the equipment is in operation, after work and before the filter if there is one. The use of a Pitot tube, to access active areas, is also a good practice.

Identification of the sampling point: On-site, identify the sampling point and the identification plate of the equipment or machine. If needed, refer to the manufacturer’s manuals or consult a maintenance expert to know the precise location of the sampling point.

Cleaning the sampling point: Carefully clean the sampling point to eliminate any external contamination that could distort the sample results. Use clean, non-linting rags or wipes specifically designed for cleaning oil samples.

Maximizing the Quality and Representativeness of Results

Sample collection: Firstly, purge the used oil with the draining bottle, generally in proportions of ten times the dead volume. This is located between the Pitot tube and the sampling tube. In any case, ensure that you follow the specific recommendations of the service provider concerning the required sample volume.

Sample quality: Make sure not to contaminate the sample with foreign particles or other fluids, especially by quickly closing containers. Also, minimize disruptions and noise by not taking directly from the drain.

Sample storage: Use containers specifically designed for storing oil samples to avoid any alteration of the sample. Seal the container hermetically to prevent leaks. Appropriately label containers or note the sampling information on the top of the bottle. Place your containers in transport bottles and send them as soon as possible for analysis. The sample is a snapshot of the current state of the component. Since oil analysis focuses on what is invisible to the naked eye, if an abnormal condition is visible (water, debris), communicate and plan accordingly.

Waste disposal: After sampling, make sure to follow the appropriate waste disposal procedures. Dispose of the sampling tube in a container intended for this purpose (single-use). Clean the work area of any oil drops that may have spilled then put the cap back on the minimess socket.

Documentation and tracking: Record all relevant information concerning the sample, such as the date, time, sampling point, equipment involved, and any other important detail. Make sure to keep this information in an appropriate tracking system to facilitate the later analysis of the samples.

Purge at least 5 times (ideally 10 times) the dead volume.

For Tangible Benefits in Maintenance

  1. Reduction of unplanned downtime through early detection of problems related to oil quality.
  2. Optimization of oil change intervals based on its actual condition, which allows savings on maintenance costs, oil consumption, and minimizes waste.
  3. Increase in equipment lifespan thanks to efficient lubrication and prevention of failures.
Example 1: A 20% savings on oil consumption

As part of its process of optimizing maintenance and reducing costs, our client, a significant miner, has implemented a short-interval sampling program on one of its sites. This program has yielded excellent results, leading to a 20% saving on the oil consumption of its gearboxes.

Indeed, based on the obtained oil analyses, our client has benefited from constantly up-to-date recommendations, which has allowed them to minimize risks and guarantee optimal performance of their equipment (frequency of oil changes, oil replacement, potential gear adjustments, and other preventive measures).

Example 2: A shutdown estimated at $1,000,000 avoided due to potential leaks

Our client, a mineral producer, was able to extend the lifespan of the gearboxes on its site, up to three times its initial longevity, through a proactive approach to its oil sampling and analysis practices.

Indeed, the results of the analyses, carried out at short intervals, allowed them to identify contamination levels, signs of wear, and key oil parameters quickly, translating into significant benefits.

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