ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS / Post date: 1 December 2014
This article continues with the discussion of oil analysis and the basic requirements for establishing a world-class used oil analysis program.
Last quarter, the discussion focused on how to gather a representative sample and then get that sample to the lab along with an accurate and complete sample label. This quarter, we will review the importance of managing the results and how to effectively utilize management reports.
Once a sample of used oil has been processed by the lab, the next step in the process is for the end user to receive the analysis results. In days gone by, this process included reports printed out on paper and sent by mail to the customer, with an average turn-around time of a couple of weeks.
Today, digital technology can deliver the results almost immediately following the completion of the analysis. There are now multiple ways to quickly notify users of new sample results including emails and text alerts. These messages may include the analysis results as an attachment or they may have a link to a website where the results can be viewed, downloaded and printed.
Results can be stored electronically, either in the cloud or on a computer hard drive. Users can access sample results for any machine in their fleet from anywhere they have internet access. Results can also be easily shared with vendors, such as equipment dealers.
Now, with results in hand, it is very important to know what to do with them. Actually, this is the most important aspect of used oil analysis. In a world-class oil analysis program, specific responses are assigned for certain types of results. The assigned action items will vary according to the specific conditions detected and the severity level of those conditions.
Actions can be as simple as resampling the component to confirm the results or immediately downing the equipment for repairs. The most important thing is that action must be taken and results must be communicated to equipment/maintenance managers to keep them informed of the situation.
Sample results should be monitored by multiple people including equipment managers, mechanics, lube technicians, and even shop clerks. Consequently, the right people will know what is expected to be done and overall accountability is maintained.
In summary, this process defines the primary use of used oil analysis; that is, the user is alerted to potentially damaging conditions and takes action to correct the problem and avoid catastrophic failure.
Importantly, there are other uses for the data generated by oil analysis that can provide a competitive advantage to companies that take advantage of the information in the results database.
After a fleet has participated in an oil analysis program for a long-enough period of time, a database of sample results can provide a wealth of information for equipment owners and managers to help them with many areas of fleet management.
A world-class program utilizes reports based on the information contained within that database. Generally, there are two broad report categories including 1) those dealing with compliance with policies, goals and objectives of oil analysis program, and 2) those dealing with oil analysis results.
The first type of report informs a manager of how their staff is performing with regards to meeting the policies, goals and objectives of the program. Examples of this type of report include sample volume, average turnaround time (time from when the sample is taken until it is received at the lab), over-extended service intervals, unit registration, and incorrect labels (labels missing data). With these reports in hand, managers can address the issues and ensure compliance.
The second type of report informs a manager of how well their maintenance program is maintaining the health of the fleet. Examples of this type of report include overall acceptability (percent of samples found to be “Acceptable,” conditions detected (units flagged for specific conditions such as wear, fuel dilution, glycol or dirt contamination, etc.), and reoccurring conditions (units that are repeatedly flagged for a specific condition). These reports should be available by date range and by worksite for managers with responsibility for more than one location. With these reports in hand, managers can gauge the effectiveness of the policies they have instituted and can make adjustments to their maintenance programs to address the issues uncovered by the reports. The ultimate goal is to improve the health of the fleet, extend the life of the equipment, and reduce operational costs.
Bottom line, if you don’t have access to these types of reports or you are not using them to improve your company’s performance, you are not getting the maximum value out of your program and you are losing out on a competitive edge in your business.
The Castrol Field Engineering team can assist if you are interested in creating or enhancing your own used oil analysis program with the goal of moving along a path towards world-class performance. Please contact your Castrol sales representative for more details.