Lab Analysis of Used Oil v. Visual Inspection

Is visual inspection of industrial fluid enough? TestOil Data/Field Analyst Dwon Ruffin CLS doesn’t think so. “There are some issues that will be obvious by looking at the oil, such as water contamination, large particles and separation into layers,” he explains. “Other than that, there is not a whole lot you can learn by visual inspection alone.”

                For most industrial machinery requiring basic oil analysis, the test slate would consist of viscosity, elemental (spectrometric) analysis, moisture levels, particle count, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and acid number. If an anomaly is detected, TestOil will perform analytical ferrography at no charge.

                 “Most people don’t even look at the oil and just assume it’s good,” Dwon says. “Even if people are looking at the oil, they are just looking to see if it’s dirty or if there are situations like water in the oil or matter floating on top of the oil. They also look at the color. However, the color can be deceptive. For example, a dark color doesn’t always mean it’s dirty and a light color doesn’t mean it’s clean.”

                Without lab analysis, visual inspection is little more than a guessing game that necessitates frequent filter changes and can have significant consequences in terms of impaired operation, downtime, and shortened lifespan. “I can’t think of any circumstances where visual inspection is enough,” Dwon adds. “You need lab analysis to get a good assessment of the condition.”

                TestOil’s DataSight online program management tool is an excellent way to see exactly what’s going on with your fluid.  With DataSight you can manage all the equipment in your program through a secure online database that includes report history--edit equipment, update lubricants, order supplies, and much more in minutes.

                For more information on DataSight visit: To learn more about working with TestOil for oil analysis and training visit Contact: 216-251-2510; [email protected].

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