The Castrol Field Engineering team often receives requests from customers to assist with analyzing failed components to determine the cause of the failure. Analysis of failed components is a best practice among world-class maintenance organizations, as it offers a number of ways to lower maintenance and repair costs.
First, it helps to prevent a reoccurring failure. If you don’t know what caused a component to fail in the first place, then you can’t take steps to alleviate the conditions that lead to the failure. A repeat failure is bound to happen again sooner or later. You will never attain maximum service life of your equipment if you don’t identify the root cause of failures and then address those causes with appropriate changes.
Second, determining the cause of failure is necessary to direct the cost of repairs to the right department or job site, or to support warranty coverage. Sometimes, equipment suppliers can be quick to deny warranty coverage for various reasons. If failure analysis shows that the OEM or dealer had some accountability, then they are more likely to cover the costs of the repair. Often, a dealer will provide its own failure analysis report, which can be very helpful. However, it can also be very helpful to obtain a second opinion, just as you might when dealing with a personal health issue.
The best time to request help is as soon as the failure is reported from the field or plant. This can be done just as a “head’s up” notice to let Castrol Field Engineering know that something has occurred and that our services may be needed. Sometimes we don’t get the call until long after the fact, when the machine or component has already been disassembled. This is still not too late to bring us in to consult, but by that time crucial evidence may be lost.
Repair technicians are often in a hurry to get the repairs completed in order to get the machine back up and running and, in the process, they don’t take care to preserve valuable evidence. If Castrol Field Engineering is notified up front, we can provide recommendations on actions to take.
In any case, it is always a good idea to take a sample of the oil as soon as possible after the failure, while the oil is still warm and contaminants are dispersed in the oil. Information contained in that sample may be very important in the failure analysis process. Oil filters should be drained and stored in a sealed container until they can be examined later on. All parts should also be retained in the same condition as at failure. Be sure to take photos of the failed machine and/or component as they often prove to be very important. And finally, an oil analysis history for the failed component will be invaluable during the process.
Castrol customers that need help with with the analysis of failed components to determine the cause of failure should contact their National Account Manager or Heavy Duty Specialist to request the assistance of a Castrol Field Engineer.