Oil Analysis Economics - Saving and Making Money

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation

Changing maintenance from reactive to planned activities is the goal of most compa-nies depending on safe and reliable machinery operation. However, successful change management demands a workable plan. The best plan is one with an eye for what lies ahead - a program that can pinpoint precise maintenance needs. The strategy is sometimes referred to as precision maintenance.

This is where oil analysis comes into play. When properly implemented, oil analysis can forecast maintenance needs before conventional maintenance scheduling. For example, oil analysis can assist outage (shutdown) management to efficiently direct maintenance resources where there is genuine need.

This includes not only those machines that are ailing in some way (problems with bearings, seals, filters, lubricants, etc.) but also those in need of “an ounce of prevention”. Over time, this can reduce the cost of an outage and shorten the outage interval.

Oil analysis offers other benefits as well. Some of these are specifically designed to save money while others are better characterized as making money. Let’s list a few in each category:

Saving Money

  • Reduce unnecessary workorders. Perform maintenance on-condition.

  • Troubleshoot problems with more precision and less guesswork.

  • Catch problems early to avoid large repairs and collateral damage.

  • Reduce component replacement costs by extending machine life using the proactive maintenance strategy.

  • Optimize lubricant life and perform condition-based oil changes to cut lubricant consumption costs.

Making Money

  • Machines run faster and more efficiently when lubricated correctly.

  • Produce more by reducing the frequency and duration of outages using the precision maintenance strategy.

  • Keep machines running longer by eliminating forced outages and costly “production-line stopping” mishaps.

Oil analysis is not just a valuable maintenance tool; it is a critical source of management information relating to production and operations. It can help define the readiness of plant and fleet equipment in meeting production schedules.

And, it helps define activities that optimize maintenance to avoid costly production losses and unnecessary downtime. As a maintenance technology, oil analysis can look deep into a machine to reveal the degenerative conditions that otherwise go unnoticed. Or, it can routinely prescribe preventive medicine based on real needs and root causes.

At Noria, we have seen a flow of case studies from various organizations that have succeeded in saving and making money using oil analysis. This has led to a growing interest in understanding oil analysis and maintenance economics from newcomers. 

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About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advise...