Accurate Oil Analysis Starts with the Right Lubricant in Each Machine

Much of the success of any oil analysis program is in the details. This includes instituting a process for ensuring the correct lubricant is in each piece of machinery. If not, there are always consequences that range in severity.

Eurofins TestOil Analyst III Field Technician Matt McMahon explains, “Using the incorrect lubricant can affect the machine in many ways. If it’s the same type of additive package but a different viscosity grade, it can change the wear characteristics of the machine. A lower viscosity grade may not have sufficient film strength, which will lead to premature wear. A higher viscosity grade can have issues with low temperatures and getting to the friction zones in a timely manner.”

                Then there’s the issue of additives. If an incorrect lubricant has a different additive package than the recommended lubricant, there can be functional issues with the machine or problems such as foaming, poor water separability, and incompatibility issues. “We’ve seen some cases where an incorrect lubricant has caused compatibility issues with the seals and gaskets within a machine,” Matt says.

                An incorrect lubricant addition may also come to the attention of Eurofins TestOil lab analysts. According to Matt, a common indication of an incorrect lubricant is a step change in viscosity.  Also, step changes in elemental spectroscopy results are sometimes evident; such as a decrease in wear metals and changes in additive levels.

Incorrect lubricant additions can also impact alarming when the limit is based on a new oil value such as with base number and RPVOT.[1] Mixtures of lubricants can also drastically change RULER[2] results leading to incorrect recommendations. If the incorrect lubricant is significantly different than the correct product, wear metals can also increase rapidly.  

“We’ve seen a few cases where an incompatible lubricant was added to a machine, resulting in a foaming problem,” Matt explains. “In one case the machine overflowed with foam and caused not only an issue with the machine but a safety issue in the vicinity. Sometimes the customer will be researching reasons for a functional issue with the machine only to discover after oil analysis that the wrong lubricant has been placed into service.”  

In Matt’s experience, the top reason the wrong lubricant ends up in a machine is poor housekeeping—specifically:

  • Disorganized lube rooms
  • Transferring new oil into the wrong storage tote
  • Inadequate labeling on transfer containers
  • Inadequate labeling on the machines
  • New oil drums mislabeled by the supplier  

The best ways to avoid using the wrong lubricant include:

  • Training personnel on lubrication fundamentals and the importance of using the specified lubricant; 
  • Testing new oils before being placed into service; and
  • Clearly marking oil storage totes, transfer containers, and machines with the lubricant in use.  

To avoid all this, Eurofins TestOil can provide training to maintenance personnel on lubrication fundamentals and contamination control.  

Matt concludes that, despite all this, there are many examples of Eurofins TestOil customers that do an excellent job of confirming the right lubricant is in the right machine, “I’ve seen customers utilize novel ways to identify totes, transfer containers, and machines to ensure that the proper lubricant is placed into service,” he says. “Some examples are using a color code on their grease guns to identify the product inside and using color-coded symbols on the totes, transfer containers, and machines to identify the lubricant in use”.

For more information on working with Eurofins TestOil for oil analysis and training visit Contact: 216-251-2510;

About Eurofins TestOil

With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil and fuel analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with same-day turnaround on routine oil analysis testing.  For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510; 

About Eurofins – the global leader in bio-analysis

Eurofins is Testing for Life. Eurofins is the global leader in food, environment, pharmaceutical and cosmetic product testing, and in discovery pharmacology, forensics, advanced material sciences and agroscience Contract Research services. Eurofins is also a market leader in certain testing and laboratory services for genomics, and in the support of clinical studies, as well as in BioPharma Contract Development and Manufacturing. The Group also has a rapidly developing presence in highly specialised and molecular clinical diagnostic testing and in-vitro diagnostic products.

With over 61,000 staff across a network of 940 laboratories in 59 countries, Eurofins’ companies offer a portfolio of over 200,000 analytical methods. Eurofins Shares are listed on Euronext Paris Stock Exchange.

[1] Rotating Pressure Oxidation Test

[2] Remaining User Life Evaluation Routine

Comments are closed.