Basics of Oil Analysis

What is Oil analysis?

Oil Analysis dates back to 1950’s when Physicochemical Tests & spectroscopic techniques were used to monitor the condition & life of the Equipment’s. Oil analysis has its roots in the United States of America, where it was first used to monitor the condition of the locomotives.

Oil is the lifeline for machines & equipment’s. Just like routine blood checkup for humans gives an idea about the health of a person, analysis of oil at regular intervals gives an idea about the health of the equipment or machine from time to time.

We cannot really look inside our equipment’s, a very successful & proven way of looking what has been happening inside our equipment’s is through Oil analysis.  Oil analysis gives appropriate information about functioning & health of your equipment’s or machines.

Chem-Tech’s Oil analysis programs monitors Equipments for Mechanical, Operational, Environmental and other Factors which are bound to affect lubricants health and condition. Degradation of Oil properties might result loss of lubrication and indirectly lead to huge losses in costly maintenance and downtime.

Benefits of Oil Analysis:

Oil analysis for a number of years has been used as an integral tool for monitoring the condition of the Equipment’s & Machines.

Following are few of the benefits:

Resources Utilization

  • Decrease unscheduled downtime
  • Increase overall component lifespan
  • Control lube consumption and oil disposal costs
  • Assist product selection, comparison and verification
  • Plan scheduled maintenance


  • Identify, measure & Analyse lubricant contamination along with equipment wear
  • Plan corrective actions from oil analysis data.
  • Reduce in-service failures and field repairs
  • Reduce Maintenance & downtime cost
  • Establish proper lubricant service intervals


  • Improve reliability, product quality and productivity
  • Improve cost control for equipment, labor and materials
  • Eliminate needless inspections or repairs
  • Control spares and replacement costs
  • Increase Reliability & achieve goals

What Oil Analysis can tell?

  • Condition of the Oil & further serviceability of oil
  • Machine Condition
  • Amount & Type of Wearing elements
  • Amount of External contaminants in Oil like Water, Dirt, Dust, and Debris Etc.
  • Amount of physical & chemical degradation of oil.
  • Overall Machine and Equipment performance.

Oil Analysis Assists Maintenance Personnel in Three Primary Ways:

First: Determination of Physical Condition & Contamination Levels in a Lubricant

Determining the physical condition and contamination of the oil. Lubricant serviceability can be impacted by either reaching the lubricant’s life span or contamination levels have reached a point requiring a drain and refill, unless purification is an option. When talking about contaminants, the objective is to detect the presence of foreign components and to ask “What are they? Where did they come from (built-in, generated, ingressed, and introduced)? How can I prevent further entry or generation?” Contaminants act as a catalyst for wear. This generated wear debris further acts as a catalyst for additional component wear. If the cycle is not broken, wear accelerates and downgraded serviceability results.

Second: Amount of Wearing & Wear Pattern of the equipment

Monitoring wear metals for abnormal machinery distress conditions. Wear debris analysis relates specifically to the health of your equipment. As you know, the main function of a lubricant is to separate two surfaces, in relative motion to each other, from making contact. However, it is generally impractical to maintain a lubricant film that will keep those same surfaces totally Separated from each other. Thus, metal-to-metal contact can occur, even in today’s high-tech equipment. In addition, keep in mind that boundary lubrication will always be present during start-up. At that critical point in the machine’s operation, some normal and/or abnormal wear metals will be generated, with the amount depending on equipment design and whether or not it has proper lubrication.

Third: Data Analysis & Corrective Action for Improving Reliability

Data analysis & corrective actions to be taken, forms the third most important point for a successful oil analysis program. As oil analysis is an integral part of the maintenance plan for power generation and manufacturing plants, over-the-road trucking fleets, off-road construction equipment, aircraft, refrigeration systems, processing and chemical plants, No TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), lean manufacturing or Six Sigma initiative will reach its goal without the processes to sustain improvement.

The data generated by the laboratory shall be stored, analysed and interpreted in the most effective way to help maintenance persons come to an achievable goal and conclusion. Interpretation, recommendation and the corrective actions mentioned in the report, play a vital role in increasing the reliability of the equipment & improving its life span.

Steps for a successful Oil Analysis Program:

Identify Equipment’s

  • It’s not necessary to perform oil analysis on every single lubricated system in your plant / factory. Identify critical applications that would seriously affect production if they were to shut down unexpectedly.

Tests & Sampling Frequency

  • Tests, Limits and Sampling frequency should be decided in co – ordination with our team initially to suit your equipment or machine. It’s mainly depends on the criticality & environmental conditions of the equipment.


  • Collect samples in clean brand new sampling bottles in accordance with your best practice and send them to the lab as soon as possible with all the information on the sample label. Samples that are set aside may deteriorate and give non-representative results.

Analysis & Turnaround Time

  • Once the tests and interval of the oil sampling are decided, the customer can send the samples to the laboratory for analysis. Typical turnaround time for Testing of the oil samples is usually 48 to 72 hrs.

Trend Analysis

  • After the tests are completed, the condition and the wearing pattern of the equipment’s can be analysed from the trend analysis report.


Take Corrective Action and Document, Document, Document!!!

  • Take immediate corrective actions indicated in the report. Documentation is the key to knowing where you’ve been and where you’re going. Document corrective actions resulting from oil analysis which will help in implementing long term maintenance strategies & data mining.

Online Reporting, Interpretation & Data Analysis

Benefits for Managers

  • Easy Access to all your company reports from anywhere in the world in one place.
  • 24 X 7 access to reports
  • Real-time trend analysis reports with graphical representation of wearing & oil condition.
  • Reports w.r.t to Equipment Serial No, Dealer, Model, Location, Equipment
  • Use analytics & data mining to solve failures
  • Reply to comments online, review historical comments about the equipment
  • Multilevel Access with respect to authorities.

Benefits for Technicians & Managers

  • See Lab performance
  • Online Sample Submission
  • Online Equipment data Submission, updation
  • Track Sample Progress
  • Multilevel Access for Dealers, Technicians and Managers
  • Access through Laptop, Tablet, Smart Phone or any device having compatible browser

What does the oil analysis tests tell you?


Viscosity Total Acid Number Total Base Number FTIR Analysis Additive Elements Wear Metals &  Contaminants
Determines the Fluidity / Viscous nature of Oil. One of the fundamental characteristics to ensure proper lubrication & film formation Determines the acidity of the Oil.  Gives idea chemical changes in the Oil due to Oxidation, Thermal degradation Determines the amount of alkaline It determines the ability of oil to neutralize acids generated due to Oxidation, Combustion by products or contamination. FTIR analysis is a very useful trending tool for determination of amount of Oxidation, Nitration and Sulphation which relates directly to oil degradation. Elemental Analysis by ICP determines the amount of Wear metals , Contaminant Metals and Additive Metals present in a Lubricant. It gives an idea about the amount of Wear and Contamination in the Lubricant, Additive Depletion. It is one of the primary tests conducted for Trend Analysis or Predictive Maintenance of the Equipment’s.


Moisture / Water Soot Flash Point Insoluble / Sediment Content Particle Count Foaming / Emulsion Characteristics
It is the most common contaminant.
Monitoring the level of water in sample is of prime importance to reduce degradation of lubricants which might affect the equipment functioning.
Soot Content is the measurement of carbon / sooty particles generated due to incomplete combustion of fuel. Higher Soot generation leads to degradation of Oil, loss of lubrication etc. Flash Point is the lowest temperature at which the vapour of the sample catches fire momentarily. This test is normally conducted from the safety perspective. It determines the amount of sediment content in the lubricating oil. It includes oil-insoluble materials and some oil-insoluble resinous matter originating, or both. These also Includes oxidation products, wear elements and Dirt. Particle count test determines the particle size and size distribution particles present in oil. This test is mainly performed to monitor filter efficiency and cleanliness of oil. These are characteristics which relates to the reactivity of oil with air & water. Higher foaming and emulsion will lead to loss of lubrication. These tests are normally conducted for oils with large sumps.
Prev post
Next post