Oil analysis is essential for finding contaminants and avoiding them. Failing to perform these tests leads to expensive hydraulic repair in Minnesota, and we have the experience to attest to that. Fortunately, it is possible to find and neutralize contaminants before they damage your equipment. Here are four common contaminants and how oil analysis helps to detect them:
- Abrasives: If anything causes a problem for your equipment, it is abrasives. They include dust, dirt or product contamination, and since they are present in all environments, they can be difficult to control. Most machines have certain tolerance levels for abrasives, and if you stay within them, your lubricant quality remains high. You still need to be careful; even the softest particles cause equipment and cutting wear, and thrust bearings can fail when exposed to enough abrasives. Oil testing indicates whether abrasive levels are beyond tolerance, and sometimes further testing is required to determine the type of abrasive. Sometimes, the only way to remove them is filtration of the lubricant, and if that is not possible, it must be changed out completely.
- Water: Dissolved water is the most benign, and unless the humidity level in your shop is extremely low, it generally does not indicate a problem. It is normal for oil to absorb humidity, but if that is happening due to machine conditions rather than the environment, more analysis is necessary. Emulsified water is the most damaging, and it clouds the lubricant, making it less free-flowing. Free water is also dangerous, although not quite to the levels of emulsified water. Water causes rust and equipment wear, and it is normally detected by appearance of the oil alone. Solutions include correcting the source of the water and changing out the lubricant.
- Incorrect lubricant: This is a common problem, even with experienced shops. Many breakdowns are linked to using the wrong lubricant. Tests determine whether the oil has the required viscosity for its function. Sludge formation shows the viscosity is inadequate, and eventually that will jam components and lead to expensive repairs. Filters will plug up, too. Once tested, lubricant is often replaced with the correct type so the machines function properly.
- Wrong additives: If your lubricant requires an additive and you consistently skip it, do not be surprised when problems arise. Some components require anti-wear and extreme-pressure additives to extend the life of the oil and increase reliability. If equipment faces excess workload without these additives, wear and tear increases, and it will not be long before you need to call us in for repairs. Testing reveals whether you need additives, and will even determine the correct ones to use. Once you start using additives, the lubricant falls within required tolerances and you will enjoy better functioning equipment. If you went without additives for a long while, it may be necessary to replace the lubricant and then introduce additives.
M & M Hydraulic Company is your reliable service for hydraulic repair in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Call us today for oil analysis, maintenance or repair.