Q: Is on-site monitoring more viable today than in the past?
A: Yes. New technology and software makes it accessible now. The results are lab grade, the information is available fast, and it provides just-in-time decision support.
Q: How does on-site testing compare to laboratory testing?
A: Like equipment used for laboratory tests, onsite equipment is ASTM compliant. On-site tests can give results that are of equal quality or better than a lab because they require less handling of samples, and handling introduces opportunities for contamination. Another advantage for testing on site is that the customer often has more knowledge than the lab. Interpretation of testing results was always been left to lab diagnosticians because it was understood that they had access to more data and therefore could call on more-informed expertise. But in truth, that’s not the case. Two different companies may use equipment that is similar, but they may operate in different environments and may have different duty cycles. Knowing this, labs tend to be very conservative in their recommendations because they do not want to have action on false positives.
Customers know their equipment better than a lab. They know the duty cycles, the metallurgy, the potential contaminants and the reasons when trends change. On-site analysis allows them to leverage that intimate knowledge and connect the cause and effects. The resulting discussion and awareness will lead to a more practical action plan to remedy the problem. Unlocking this knowledge provides an enormous value improvement to the end user – more than the traditional offsite model.
Q: If I provide an on-site testing solution as part of a lubricant program, can I see my customers’ data?
A: Yes. The concept of total lubrication management has been around for some time, and suppliers want to provide more value to customers on a day-to-day basis. The off-site lab concept is still widely used, but it struggles to provide value – for a lot of reasons. By getting the customer to perform the tests, they can measure the value of the lubricant offering. They also have more “skin in the game,” and the software allows the provider to view results when needed, contribute recommendations, and to look to solve more lubricant challenges.
Q: What types of companies could benefit from on-site oil monitoring?
A: Asset-intensive facilities have the most to gain from an onsite program. This could be high-value process plants, power generation plants, mining operations or transport fleets. Usually on-site monitoring is justified if there are 50 or more critical assets on one location that are vital to production. However, there are exceptions based on criticality.
Q: What type of equipment is required for a basic on-site testing program?
A: Make sure to have something to check for viscosity, water content and large ferrous particles. That covers the key aspects of lubricant chemistry, contamination and wear.
Q: What are the staff training requirements for end users of on-site testing programs?
A: Technology has made new tools very easy to use, thus reducing the need for prolonged training. On-demand videos that can be viewed on-site, interactive manuals and quick reference guides make is possible for anyone to use the technology. These are aimed at staff who have tasks other than oil testing.
Q: Does a lubricant end user need dedicated lab space to have onsite solutions?
A: No, on-site oil analysis can be performed with just a table and electrical power supply. The ventilation and bench space required in a laboratory are not needed for on-site analysis.