Economic and environmental considerations, coupled with advances in technology, are leading to increased use of oil analysis to monitor and maintain equipment. In particular, organizations are looking to on-site oil analysis to help them achieve their goals for machine condition monitoring and equipment reliability. Managers and technicians alike desire an easy-to-use on-site oil analysis package that delivers all the relevant information with one test. While it does not completely eliminate the need for off-site testing, on-site oil analysis provides the following key
benefits to the organization:

Faster turnaround time for results - No waiting when tough decisions must be quickly made.

Immediate re-test confirmation - When results are non-conforming, an immediate re-test ensures that a problem condition exists before further action is scheduled.

Hour-by-hour trending - When a machine is ailing, frequent testing and trending provides excellent insight into the severity of the event.

Program ownership - Experience has proven that when plant personnel are personally involved with the analysis of the oil, they take on a sense of ownership in the program that doesn’t otherwise exist when the program is distant and impersonal. Seasoned managers know that ownership and passion are the most important components to a program’s success.

The VIP Analyzer
The VIP analyzer is a user-friendly on-site oil analysis instrument designed specifically to accomplish the three objectives of an oil analysis program:

  • Ensure that the lubricant is fit for continued service
  • Control component and lubricant degrading contaminants
  • Detect and analyze abnormal wearing conditions

Viscosity is the most important property of a lubricant. Too high and the oil may not flow properly resulting in oil starvation. Too low and the oil film is weak. Both conditions rapidly lead to metal to metal contact and high wear. A measure of viscosity should be included in every condition monitoring program of lubricated machinery because it can change during use from contamination such as fuel dilution, thermal breakdown and oxidation or by adding the wrong oil. It is a great overall indicator of lubricant health.

Particle contamination is considered by many to be the main cause of wear leading to shortened mechanical life. Many studies have shown dramatic increases in life by using better filtration and clean oil. Routine measurement of particle contamination is imperative to achieving contamination control.

While measuring all particles is an important proactive step, particles differ widely in their ability to cause wear. In addition, there are other causes of wear. These include vibration, misalignment, wrong viscosity or additive levels, overloading and overheating. Therefore it is important to include wear particle monitoring in a comprehensive lubricant condition monitoring program.

The VIP Oil Analyzer combines these three important oil analysis tests into one easy-to-use instrument. The analyzer consists of the following basic elements:

  • A syringe pump to force the oil through at constant flow
  • A special filter to capture the particles
  • A transducer to measure the pressure drop across the filter
  • A magnet and flux sensor to measure the magnetic particles

The oil sample is introduced with a standard disposable plastic syringe. The computer (any standard desk-top or lap-top computer) starts the pump, forcing the sample through the special filter at constant rate of flow. The pressure drop across the filter rises rapidly to an equilibrium value proportional to the oil’s viscosity at the test temperature. This value remains constant until the end of the cycle unless the sample contains particles. In this latter case the pressure drop continues to increase. The rate of increase is proportional to the particle concentration.

Simultaneously, the magnetic sensor detects the buildup of magnetic particles. Pressure drop and magnetic sensor readings are stored in the computer as the test proceeds for subsequent analysis.

The computer then outputs the following information:

  • Viscosity
  • Particle contamination index
  • Wear particle concentration

A typical test requires a 10 ml sample and takes only about 3 minutes. If desired, the particles that are magnetically captured by the instrument can be released, deposited onto a micropatch and viewed under a microscope for evaluation.

The instrument passes very fine particles like soot and it is unaffected by the fluid’s color or clarity. Likewise, it is unaffected by the presence of water or air. As such, it is as well suited to analyzing diesel engine lube and gear oil samples as it is for hydraulic, turbine and other clean-system samples.

For more information visit the Tribometrics website at: http://www.tribometrics.com or call them at 510-540-1247.