Periodic oil changes in refinery rotating equipment have become widely accepted as the most effective means of decreasing maintenance costs. However, routine oil changes do not guarantee optimum lubrication and operating performance.
Optimum performance can only be achieved by changing oil “smarter.” See Figure 1.
One way to change oil smarter is to ensure water is not allowed to contaminate the oil. Water is the No. 1 cause of premature bearing, gear and seal failure.
Preventing water from contaminating the oil is the most effective means of
increasing oil and equipment life (thus reducing maintenance costs). Front line personnel are the first line of defense:
Do not use contaminated funnels or oil cans – dispose of them.
Do not leave plugs or vents loose on equipment.
Utilize bearing “isolators” and hermetically sealed oilers.
Do not leave the bung hole caps off the oil drums (bulk storage often has over 1,000 ppm [parts per million] water).
Any more than 200 ppm water in the oil starts the wear and damage that is often the root cause of a failure. See Figure 2.
The example in Figure 3 illustrates that reducing the ppm of water in oil (through diligent storage, transfer and use) from 2,500 ppm to 156 ppm can extend equipment life by five times.
This is a great return on investment when you consider all that needs to happen is to improve our oil changing awareness and possibly bulk storage housekeeping.
Identifying water in oil can be difficult. If the oil is visibly contained, the ppm water is probably already at a dangerous level. Hence the urgency to have it changed.
Proper storage and handling of equipment oil is a basic and easy reliability process to improve equipment life.