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Analysis of industrial lubricants: what it is and how to carry it out

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You will already know the importance of having optimized lubricating oils for your production. Its benefits and the obligation to have the equipment always operational require you to have constant control over its status. To this end, a series of key methodologies have been developed. We tell you what these are, their fundamentals and why they are essential for a truly intelligent factory.

What is industrial lubricant analysis?

The lubricant analysis is the set of techniques and actions that are carried out to analyze the internal wear of the equipment, as well as the capacities of the oil itself based on the study of its properties. That is to say, on the one hand, in the oils we can find evidence that the parts wear out. On the other, we assess whether the oil is in a position to fulfill its lubricating function.

Although they are 2 different facets, it must be taken into account that they are related to each other. The presence of contaminants from the equipment affects the effectiveness of the lubricant, as well as a lubricant that does not act 100% as such will increase wear.

With all this, we get benefits such as:

– Optimize the amount of lubricant to be used in a factory.

– Related cost savings, such as waste management.

– Optimized industrial maintenance, avoiding unexpected stops.

– More benefits as a result of uninterrupted work.

– Greater respect for the environment, by disposing of oil only when needed.

Types of wear and contamination that can be found in lubricants

Evidence of equipment wear and contamination found in lubricating oils has a variety of origins.

The most common are:

– Abrasive: particles such as dust, sand, or metal rub against the parts of the machinery.

– Adhesive: the consequence of the contact of various metal surfaces. As a result, particles are shed from them.

– By cavitation: if the pressure of the lubricant falls to a certain level, bubbles have created that collapse, and their shock waves cause wear on the metals.

– Corrosive: the metal reacts chemically, it is usually oxidation, which results in a detachment of it.

– Due to fatigue: the consequence of continuous efforts by the parts of the machinery.

– Presence of moisture: generally due to leaks in the cooling systems.

– Presence of insoluble substances due to the poor condition of the lubricant.

How is the analysis of industrial lubricants carried out?

In the first place, a plan must be shaped in which issues such as:

– Specify the areas in which the samples will be taken.

– Frequency with which the sampling will be carried out.

– Define the appropriate materials and equipment.

– Labeling of samples and protocols for shipment to the laboratory.

– Define the analysis procedures.

– Treatment of results and interpretation.

– Taking response actions.

To measure the state of the oils, the factories have a series of analytical techniques that adjust to what they need. Here you have the most currently used for the detection of contaminating elements:

-Spectrometallography: identifies and measures the quantity of small metallic traces (less than 10 microns).

– Emission spectrometry or ICP: allows precise quantification of several elements simultaneously.

– Infrared spectrometry: compares lubricant samples with similar ones that have not been used to determine the differences between the two to detect foreign elements.

-Analytical ferrography: for metallic particles between 0.1 and 500 microns in size.

– Particle counter: a laser measures the number of particles present in the oil.

In addition, some techniques allow the intrinsic properties of the lubricant to be determined, such as:

-Viscosity: one of the fundamental characteristics of lubrication. This can increase due to its degradation and the presence of non-soluble particles, or it can fall due to its dilution as a result of contamination from other oils.

– Acidity: the oils are generally basic, to neutralize the acidic substances that are generated with the activity of the equipment and that can attack and degrade them.

– Dielectric constant: measures the insulating capacity of the oil.

– Detergency: ability to dissolve and get rid of dirt.

By the end of this article, you will be aware of the number and variety of alternatives that industrial managers have to know the status of their lubricants.

But these are not the only ways to keep a physical asset safe. In addition, there are predictive maintenance actions through artificial intelligence solutions. With what conforms to advanced protection against breakdowns and technical problems.


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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