We all know that lubrication is the most important factor, whether it may be any engine or any moving parts, where there is enormous friction. Therefore proper lubrication should be done so that the heat produced due to friction is reduced. So, the lubricant used should possess all the desirable properties and there should not be any deterioration (which means a gradual decline in its quality).
Analysis of lubricating oil is a part of the routine maintenance program in which a sample of the lubricating oil will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The oil may be subjected to tests such as viscosity, fuel oil dilution, water, solid impurities, etc. The detailed analysis of the lube oil is one of the valuable preventive maintenance tools which enable us to identify the problems before a major repair is necessary.
Oil analysis may be done in three parts. They are:
- Properties of the lubricating oil
- Condition of the lubricating oil (to tell whether it can be used further or not)
- Fuel dilution, dirt contamination, excessive bearing wear, etc.,
The oil analysis can increase the machinery's life, decrease failure, and reduce money paid for repair. (See image below for an example of an oil analysis report. Click the image to enlarge.)
Due to the severe operating load, speed, temperature effect and the introduction of foreign substances into the lube oil system, there are chances that the system gradually lowers the properties and hence it becomes harmful for the engine operation. Therefore it is always good to identify and analyze the possible sources of contamination and monitor them from time to time.
Possible sources of contamination are by the unburnt fuel, carbon, water, acid, solid impurities, etc.