Lubrication: Prolong your machine uptime

By Steve Gahbauer   

Facilities Maintenance Industry Manufacturing lubrication machinery maintenance manufacturing

Use advanced fluid testing and sampling

Oil sampling should be consistent. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

Oil sampling should be consistent. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

When machines aren’t running, neither is production. One way to ensure they operate reliably is by fluid testing, oil sampling and lubricant analysis of a sample that’s representative of the system.

Bill Quesnel, vice-president of WearCheck Canada Ltd. in Burlington, Ont., is adamant about one overarching principle: correct oil sampling requires knowledge, experience and proper tools. Sampling must be consistent. That takes skill and means adhering to standards.

Sampling ports located at appropriate points and equipped with adequate hardware are key. A gauge plug or valve mount allows convenient and consistent sampling for pressurized systems.

Take samples before the filter and after lubricant components. Flush the path, but doing so for too long dilutes oil data. Quesnel recommends flange spacer samplers for large, multi-component systems.


Gearboxes and unpressurized systems have special requirements. Don’t dead-end pipes and don’t take samples from the bottom of the reservoir. Instead, use tube-extender pitot tubes and insert them into the gearbox below the oil level.

For machine drain points, he suggests quick-connect filter cart returns and/or an oil level gauge and integrated oil sampling. This minimizes sampling time and provides easy management by sight.

Dispensing containers should be made of anti-static treated plastic, colour-coded and equipped to provide optional quick-connect nozzles of various sizes. Colour-coded ID tags should be used on all ports, storage tanks and dispensing containers.

Following established oil sample-taking procedures, taking advantage of improved equipment and emerging technologies, and investing in a good database management system provides technicians and analysts with the right information to make quick diagnoses and accurate, useful recommendations.

This information was adapted from a technical presentation to the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE). Steve Gahbauer is a contributing editor to PLANT West.


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