A Conversation with Troy Hudson on the Importance of Regular Oil Analysis
Here’s a new word for you – TRIBOLOGY – the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion that includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear. An important science when it comes to the longevity of essential manufacturing equipment and expensive machinery. In this article we connected with our own oil analysis expert, Troy Hudson, who recently received an Oil Monitoring Analysis I (OMAI) certification.
OMAI and OMAII
There are currently two different certifications for predictive maintenance when it comes to oil analysis for shops, service departments and manufacturing operations – the OMAI and OMAII, issued by the STLE, the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. Based in Illinois, the STLE is a technical society serving the needs of more than 10,000 individuals and 150 companies and organizations that comprise the tribology and lubrication engineering business sector. Internationally there are only 518 people who have obtained this certification, and with the hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment in circulation around the world, 518 oil analysis experts available to service a wide spectrum of critical industries is a relatively small population. Troy Hudson, SCL’s Industrial Development Manager and oil analysis expert is one of those 518. The OMAI certification was specifically designed for predictive maintenance professionals who oversee the oil analysis programs of shops and plants, mechanics, engineers, operators, tradesmen, chemical managers and on-site lab personnel.
A graduate of Northern Arizona University with a business degree in marketing and management, Troy took on the challenge of training for the OMAI after working on a project where all of the components of a refinery required cleaning and where the oil needed to be filtered down to an extreme micron level. Says Troy, “Working on this project opened my eyes to the fact that 70% of critical wear inside of engines is caused by debris that’s only 5-15 microns in size – invisible to the naked eye. By contrast, a human hair is 40 microns, so it’s not the large particles causing the bulk of the damage in an engine, it’s the microscopic particles suspended in fluid. I was also drawn to the highly technical nature of the work. It seemed as though no one else wanted to do it because of its level of diagnostic and technical difficulty. I saw potential for SCL to move into new markets – power generation stations, refineries, etc, so I jumped on it.”
Why Oil Analysis is Key
According to Troy, the petroleum industry as a whole is reaching a point where the market may be permanently changing, driven by technological innovations and the implementation of environmental regulations. With the emergence of alternative energy sources, fleets vying for better fuel economy, and an overall trending towards less oil and fuel being purchased, machinery is pushed farther and farther to the point that wear inevitably increases. Being OMAI certified allows Troy to dive deep into the technicalities of lubricant testing and analysis. “If oil is oxidizing and there’s soot and copper present, I’m able to assess what test would work best to determine the cause of oxidation so that we can begin working towards a solution. If you think of an engine in the same way that we view the human body, when there’s a problem we often analyze a person’s blood. When there is a problem in an engine, a system or a plant, we analyze the blood of the machinery – the lubrication. With a catastrophic failure, we want to go to a root cause analysis and as a general rule, you never want to fail in the same way twice.”
The Benefits of Being an Oil Analysis Expert
Says Troy, “I look at every single oil analysis report that our customers send in so that we can make recommendations around whether or not they are doing drain intervals properly, or whether they need to change a certain product for specific applications, such as changing out their hydraulic fluid. A lot of customers do oil analysis and spend a lot of money on the service, but many of them don’t understand what they are doing and they are actually performing analysis incorrectly. My job is to help them understand so that they can save time, money and so that they can make sound decisions when it comes to their engines and equipment.” With the OMAI certification as an oil analysis expert, Troy is able to recommend specific changes in product, usage and conditions to optimize efficiency and extend machine life. “If you have a medical issue and you do blood testing to determine what the problem is, you wouldn’t just take a one-time snapshot. You would do routine testing over time to monitor changes. When there are wear metals happening inside of your engine, through regular analysis you can cut catastrophic problems off at the pass. It’s all about trending analysis over a period of time. You can’t just take a one-time snapshot, and every manufacturer has different wear limits on their equipment that need to be taken into consideration. Relying on generic standards doesn’t work because working conditions and applications are different.”
The Bottom Line
No two machines are the same, just like no two bodies are the same, so approaching each situation from an individual basis and doing routine analysis and maintenance over time will give you the best overall picture of what your machines are doing and what they need to perform at an optimal level. For more information on how oil analysis can benefit your business and fleet, contact Troy Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.