Efficient Plant March 2018 - 26

PdM lubricant health

+

DELIVERING DIAGNOSTICS AND MORE
External factors can have a big impact on oil conditions. Thus, it's
important to establish a relationship with a lubrication-analysis
lab that knows your business and can provide relevant diagnostics.
Such was the case with a company seeking assistance from oilintelligence experts to find the reason for chronic filter problems
in a turbine that was causing unplanned downtime.
After reviewing the FTIR chart in Fig. 2 (p. 25) indicating high
levels of zinc and calcium, and then asking additional questions
about the plant's operations, the experts pinpointed the source of
the problem: Calcium in the environment was contaminating the oil
and changing to calcium carbonate, causing rust and clogging the
filter (Fig. 3, below). Beyond that, the experts noticed the customer
was using the wrong lubricant and suggested an alternative.

A high water level in oil causes hydrolysis,
which forms destructive acids that cause permanent degradation of the oil, rust in the machine,
and, sometimes, total equipment failure.
 The presence of glycol in petroleum
indicates a seal breach in the system.
 Metal contaminants reveal critical
bearing wear.
Lubricant intelligence: While
oil-test data is important, it means
nothing if you don't know how to
apply that information into something meaningful and actionable.
It would be like a doctor handing
you an EKG chart or an MRI scan
and sending you home to figure it
out. An expert's interpretation of the
results and recommended fixes makes
oil analysis a true PdM process (see Sidebar
above, for example).
Reading oil-analysis data is much like looking
at the night sky: An untrained eye will just see
stars, but a trained astronomer can explain what
those stars mean and how they fit into a bigger
picture of constellations. Similarly, oil experts can
explain what analysis figures mean and the impact
they have on equipment performance. This level
of oil intelligence helps see the condition of oil
and equipment without a shutdown. Analysts can


Fig. 3. Oil analysis
determined the root
cause of a plant's failing
turbine: Calcium in the
environment was contaminating the lubricant
and changing to calcium
carbonate, leading to
rust that clogged the
oil filter.

26

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

detect failures in progress and point straight to the
root cause, providing sufficient lead time to schedule corrective maintenance before catastrophic
failure, with minimal disruption of operations.
The biggest cost of lubricant failure is downtime.
If a line goes down because a bearing burned up,
the best-case scenario is a four-hour replacement for two workers. Those four hours of lost
production, as well as wasted product to get the
equipment back online, can add up to a hefty price.
Plus, in industries such as power generation, an
operation could incur fines for no-starts.

THE ROLE OF SENSORS
Sensors are becoming an increasingly important
tool in gathering real-time oil intelligence. As an
example, consider constant-level-lubrication technology. When connected to a constant-level oiler,
a sensor-based system can continuously measure
levels and transmit the information wirelessly to a
simple dashboard viewable from a personal computer or smart phone.
Knowing the oil level and trending its data can
prevent a catastrophic event. For example, if oil remains the same level for a long period, the bearing
could be starved, and, in turn, burn out. Or, an oil
level that drops quickly could suggest a blown seal
that needs immediate attention. In only minutes, a
manager can check the dashboard, look at oil levels
and trends for all machines, and deploy a technician to replace oil or make a needed repair.

NOW AND BEYOND
Keep in mind that lubricants can tell you a lot
about what's wrong (or going wrong) with your
equipment. With today's state-of-the-art testing, analysis, and expert advice, you can clearly
understand what your lubricants are saying. Going
forward, lubricant intelligence and monitoring
devices will continue to evolve and, as a result,
provide ever-more valuable data for plantmaintenance efforts. EP
Information in this article was provided by Jim
Jung, CLS, of Trico Corp., Pewaukee, WI. For more
information, go to tricocorp.com.

MARCH 2018


http://www.tricocorp.com http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

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