Proper Fluid Analysis Is More Important Than Getting A One-Time Sample
This article highlights common reasons that fluid analysis programs fail to deliver the desired results. The pitfalls include poor analysis strategies, infrequent analysis intervals, poor sampling techniques, delay in getting samples to the lab, delays in getting results, poor information submitted to the lab, lack of correct tests, poor interpretation of results, and failure to integrate with other CM technologies.
To avoid these pitfalls, fluid analysis should be performed on a regular basis, not only when problems are suspected. Critical equipment should be analyzed monthly, and less critical equipment should be analyzed quarterly. Sampling techniques should be improved, such as installing dedicated sample valves and training staff on proper sampling procedures. Additionally, results should be received within 24-48 hours of the sample reaching the laboratory, and laboratory staff should have a consistent means of describing machines and components during sample submission.
It is also important to select the appropriate tests, interpret results accurately, and integrate oil analysis with other CM technologies to achieve the best possible results. By avoiding these common pitfalls and implementing effective oil analysis programs, organizations can improve equipment performance and reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime.
Fluid analysis may fail for several reasons, including:
1. Contamination: If the sample is contaminated, it can affect the results of the fluid analysis. Contamination can occur during the sampling process, handling or storage of the sample, or during the analysis itself. Contaminants can include dirt, water, oil, cleaning agents, and other fluids.
2. Sampling errors: If the sample is not taken correctly or the wrong type of fluid is selected, the results can be inaccurate. For example, if the sample is taken from the wrong location, it may not represent the actual condition of the system. The RV inspector may not know what fluid is in the RV at the time of sampling and this can skew the results.
3. Inadequate testing: The fluid analysis may not include tests that are necessary to identify specific problems. For example, if the sample is not tested for a specific type of wear, the analysis may not detect a problem.
4. Human error: If the person conducting the analysis is not adequately trained or experienced, the results may be inaccurate.
5. Misinterpretation: Even when the analysis is accurate, the results may be misinterpreted. For example, if the analyst does not understand the context in which the equipment is being used, they may misinterpret the results.
To ensure accurate results with fluid analysis, it is important to use an RV inspector who follows proper sampling procedures, uses appropriate sampling equipment, and has experienced analysts perform the analysis.
How Often Should Fluid Analysis Be Performed
Fluid analysis should be performed on a regular basis to monitor the condition of the equipment and detect any potential issues early. Depending on the equipment, operating conditions, and the severity of the application, the frequency of the fluid analysis may vary.
Typically, a baseline fluid analysis is performed the first time to establish the fluid’s initial condition. Subsequent analyses can then be used to monitor changes in fluid properties, detect abnormal wear or contamination, and diagnose any developing equipment problems.
In some cases, it may be necessary to perform fluid analysis more frequently, such as in high-stress environments or for equipment operating under harsh conditions. In contrast, applications with relatively low wear may require less frequent fluid analysis.
When starting a fluid analysis program be sure to choose an RV inspector who will use the same lab so the testing standards are the same. Getting samples from different labs may skew the results, so always using the same RV inspector is important.
Overall, the goal of fluid analysis is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the equipment’s condition and detect issues before they cause significant damage or unplanned downtime. As such, performing fluid analysis regularly is an essential part of equipment maintenance and can help ensure a longer and more reliable equipment lifespan.
Getting The Sample To The Lab Within 24-48 Hours
Basically, the information contained in your sample becomes obsolete almost as soon as the sample has been taken. So waiting for days to dispatch the samples to the laboratory is not going to help in limiting the degree of obsolescence. If your RV inspector is not hand delivering the samples immediately after the inspection, make sure they are not skimping by using ground, rather than overnight, delivery service.
At My RV Inspection we use a local lab that is within 8 miles of our location. Anytime fluid analysis samples are pulled the samples are delivered to the lab the same day.
How Soon Should You Have The Fluid Analysis Results
When buying an RV time is of the most importance. Many RV inspectors ship the samples to labs across the country slowing down the process. At My RV Inspection, because we use a local laboratory, we typically have the results back within 1-2 business days. Ask your RV inspector for a timeline for getting the results. If they say 3-7 business days they are probably mailing them to a lab and that is valuable time wasted. Unfortunately, mail can also get lost. This could lose you even more valuable time if your inspector has to go back and pull more samples.