Before you implement any oil analysis program, it is necessary to understand two things: the need for oil testing and the conditions on which it is based. This may seem to be a daunting task but it should not be overlooked. Oil analysis is the testing of a lubricants property, wear debris and suspended contaminants. Oil analysis is required to get meaningful and accurate information on the suitability of lubricants for continued use in machines and engines.


It should be kept in mind that oil analysis can increase machine reliability through improved fluid condition. Negligence during oil analysis program may result in machine failures. There are some oil conditions that are measured during oil testing:

  • Metal wearing

Machines generally wear as they operate. Wear debris thus produced are circulated via the lubricant which will beget additional component wear. It is essential to select the quantity and type of metal in the lubricant to prevent greater wearing.

  • Presence of water

It is a well known fact that water is a catalyst of oxidation process. Water content in lubricants or oil can cause more corrosion.

  • Viscosity index

Viscosity is a measure of oil’s resistance to flow. Most effective lubrication has viscosity index that conforms to the speed and temperature conditions of the lubricated parts. Lubricant manufacturers should consider kinematic viscosity, shear stress/shear rate and viscosity index while blending lubricating oils.

  • Soot level

Soot is particulate created as a by-product due to incomplete combustion. Excessive soot in the lubricant oil can cause more wearing of machines. Typically, the suggested limit for soot is 3% but can go higher.

  • Acid and base numbers

Base number (BN) is the oil’s ability to neutralise acids produced during use while acid number (AN) is the amount of acid and acid-like substances in the oil. By using oil analysis equipment for engine oil or lubricants, one can track the BN and AN of oil and determine how much life is remaining.

There are three critical factors to the implementation of successful oil analysis program:

  • Selecting best oil analysis equipment

  • Identifying critical machine in the plant to sample

  • Choosing appropriate oil testing for the critical machine

Oil analysis is helpful when lubrications are used with other in-line fluids including coolant and diesel fuel. Oil analysis can uncover problems that would normally go undetected with basic lubricant tests. Oil analysis program should be established that is credible and proves to be a merit to the reliability of the company. By having an idea about different oil conditions, and taking into account the machine maintenance philosophy being practiced, oil analysis program can be easily used to accomplish the desired results.