[Case study] How regular oil analysis enabled Tarmac to prevent production delays and avoid costly downtime
We’ve been carrying out oil analysis at one of Tarmac’s concrete production sites for nearly ten years.
The facility produces raw materials and runs 24 hours a day to meet the extremely high demands associated with sheet concrete manufacturing. We analyse Tarmac’s oil in its gearboxes three times a year.
After one of our scheduled sampling visits, one of Tarmac’s major gearboxes returned a critical result
Our analysis revealed that the oil contained extremely high levels of wear metals, primarily copper and tin. The solution? The gearbox needed to be inspected immediately.
It was stripped down, the oil was changed and normal service was able to resume. However, when we carried out the next scheduled sampling three months later we found that the oil was showing reduced, but still abnormally high levels of wear. So the oil was changed again to eliminate the possibility of wear residue showing in the new oil. We also recommended to Tarmac that the oil should be resampled within a month to check its condition since we were concerned about the gearbox.
A month later we analysed the resample which should have returned a satisfactory result. However, abnormally high levels of copper were still being detected
This was a clear sign that a serious fault was developing in the gearbox that could ultimately lead to failure.
Our results were a clear indicator to Tarmac’s production manager that the gearbox needed to be urgently replaced. A new gearbox was delivered on September 16 and the following day, the old gearbox failed, just as it was about to be changed. Talk about timing!
Thanks to our intelligent oil analysis, Tarmac was able to continue production and avoid costly downtime
When we speak to businesses about the benefits of oil analysis, one of the most common responses we hear is, ‘We don’t need oil analysis, we just need to change our oil every few months.’
If only it were that simple.
As logical as it sounds, changing your oil frequently isn’t the alternative to getting your oil analysed for these three main reasons:
- You could be pouring away perfectly healthy oil.
- You’ll have to purchase replacement oil.
- Last, but not least, adding new oil to a gearbox will not prevent failure if there is a fundamental fault developing.
Regular oil analysis is the only way to monitor and manage wear and tear in oil systems
Contrary to popular belief, it is a straightforward and cost-effective way to mitigate the risks of equipment downtime, unplanned maintenance costs and machinery replacement.
This particular situation proves precisely why regular oil analysis and taking a resample when advised, as opposed to frequent oil changes, is so important. If our recommendation to our customer was just to change their oil, it wouldn’t have prevented the gearbox failure.
Want to find out more about what our intelligent oil analysis involves? Read our blog, ‘A day in the life of an SFR engineer’ for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work carried out by one of our engineers, Lee Mogano.