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Oil Analysis And Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

Setting Up An Oil Condition Monitoring Programme


Oil Check will always advocate you need a Leader who . . .

  • Has ownership and champions the oil condition monitoring programme
  • Makes a public commitment to make it happen
  • Will gather the resources to sustain it
  • Will devote time & effort to follow it through
  • Will provide the program with the proper foundation


. . . Can answer these basic questions that must be asked:

  1. What do you want to get from your oil analysis programme?
  2. What units need to be sampled?
  3. Where does the oil sample need to be taken on the equipment?
  4. How are the oil samples going to be procured?
  5. How often do oil samples need to be taken?
  6. What oil tests are needed?

Some of these steps can be performed simultaneously, whilst others must be done in sequence.

View our FAQs below for more information:

On site training can be arranged for an individual or team basis.

If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

These are our most frequently asked questions:

Integrating Vibration and Oil Analysis?

When oil analysis and vibration analysis are combined within a programme, the weaknesses in one technology can be overcome by the strengths in the other.

For example, whilst oil analysis cannot detect resonance, vibration analysis is very good at doing so. Conversely, while vibration analysis has only mixed success in detecting wear of oil lubricated journal bearings, oil analysis is very good at detecting the wear debris in the lube and assessing the severity. This helps the customer to make the important decision of whether or not they should continue to operate the machine. Also, when both technologies pinpoint the same problem, the diagnosis and follow-up recommendations are rarely inaccurate.

Our experience shows that a strong, up-to-date vibration programme can be improved by closely combining it with a strong oil analysis programme. The combined programme becomes more than the sum of the parts.

Our network of longstanding and close relationships with partners in this field can provide you with a comprehensive and solid foundation to integrate these fields of monitoring.

What tests do I need on my oil samples?

The tests that are required depend very much on what type of equipment they came from. For example, diesel engine oils would require an Infrared Spectroscopy test, whereas a gearbox oil would not. OCLS can advise customers as to which tests would give them the most valuable information about their machines.

Answering these questions should give you a strong foundation on which to build a personalised oil analysis programme. If you are unsure about any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Oil Check will provide answers to these and other fundamental questions. Make your appointment to discuss your requirements in detail. Other areas of assistance include; Providing advice and support with any auditing or other monitoring processes you are obliged to undertake which involve setting up or maintaining an advanced condition monitoring programme.

How often do I need to take oil samples?

To determine the sampling frequency, you need to ask yourself what you want to find out and how fast it needs to be found. Obviously, cost can also be a factor.

When deciding on how often to sample, you should take into account the equipment history and the likelihood of failure.

More frequent sampling gives better data trending and also picks up on possible failures as they’re happening. Bear in mind that failures can happen quickly and so a unit that’s suspected of having a problem should be sampled frequently, especially if it is a crucial machine.

If a sample is taken only yearly, the lab analyst will not have much data history to make a comparison to. In contrast, monthly sampling provides a 90% range of sample detection before unit failure.

How do I actually obtain the oil sample?

If you are using the drop-tube method, the best way is to use a vacuum pump (available from OCLS) which delivers the oil straight into the sample bottle! However, there will be some units which don’t allow such a method. In this case, some investigative work may be required to search for a suitable location. Also, there’s the option of contacting the unit manufacturer or browsing the Internet.

Full instructions are available on request from OCLS regarding the proper method for sample taking.

From where on the equipment do I take samples?

Sometimes, this question is already answered for you due to there being only one sampling point on the unit. However, you need to consider if it is a good sampling point and thus if it will provide accurate data. For example, oil taken from the bottom of a sump will not provide an accurate picture of what is happening in the machine. Similarly, sampling from an inactive location on the unit may give positive results, but in reality your machine could be on the verge of failing.

Consider installing a sample point in a better location, budget-allowing of course. Also consider safety, especially when dealing with high-pressure hydraulic systems

What units do I need to sample?

Gearboxes? Critical units? Engines only? Everything?!

This is probably the toughest step. To make this task a little easier, try to prioritise your equipment into lists (e.g. definitely want to sample / would like to sample / must sample).

So, if cost is a deciding factor, certain units can be sampled less often or even not at all.

What can I get out of my oil analysis programme?

What you get from your programme will be determined by the reason(s) you enrolled in the first place. Such reasons might be, for example, wanting potential machine failures to be caught early, or simply wanting to monitor your oil’s health over time.