Lubricating oil service life

How Atten2 helps keep control of industrial lubricants

The monitoring solutions offered by Atten2, OilHealth and OilWear not only analyse the state of the oil in real time but can also help in detecting excess lubrication in critical machinery by means of the anomalies of wear and degradation that are produced in the fluid as a consequence of flooding by over-lubrication. In other words, they help to keep control of industrial lubricants.

This added value of the Atten2 optical sensors can save huge costs that are caused by over-lubrication, an error of both human and mechanical origin that leads to breakdowns and unscheduled stoppages in the critical machinery and, as a result, in the production systems.

Patterns of normality: The key for detecting anomalies caused by over-lubrication

The Atten2 optical sensors trace patterns of normality in the behaviour of the lubricant in the machines in which they are installed and in all the modalities under which they operate. That is to say, the devices record the ratio of degradation of the oil in normal operating conditions of the machine and carry out a trace of its predictable behaviour throughout the useful life of the lubricant. This measuring tool, which allows the possibility of connection to the cloud, makes it possible to instantly detect an anomalous behaviour that does not match the normal life cycle of the oil, which is shown in peaks of degradation and wear that could have their origin in an excess of lubrication.

How do the Atten2 sensors detect flooding of lubricating oil?

The OilHealth and OilWear sensors are capable of detecting the consequences that an excess of lubrication have on the speed of degradation and wear of the oil. The early detection of these indicators offered by the Atten2 online monitoring solutions makes it possible to apply the appropriate corrective measurers in order to prevent breakdowns.

A high degree of degradation and (accelerated) wear of the oil is an unmistakeable symptom that there is something wrong with the working of the machinery. In the case of excessive lubrication, there are two main factors that cause this deterioration:

Presence of external particles

When the level of oil exceeds the capacity indicated for the machinery, there may be an overflow of the product. The lubrication oil then comes into contact with the exterior, where it is contaminated by particles of different kinds. Water, dust or fibres, among other possible materials, mix with the fluid which returns into the machine where it may produce a wearing effect.

The OilWear solution is capable of identifying the presence and nature of the foreign particles in the oil, a symptom that there has been an excess of lubrication.

Degradation caused by temperature variation

Excessive lubrication is often associated with human error, although failures in the automatic systems can never be ruled out. Whether it is done manually or by pumping, one of the most common processes that lead to overflow in the levels of lubrication is the sweetening of the oil (partial drainage of the existing oil and its replacement with new oil) and topping up to replace the lubricant that the machine has consumed naturally.

Both of these methods for balancing the oil have consequences in the general state of the fluid, which are reflected in the measurement made by the Atten2 sensors. The levels of degradation can improve if they are performed properly, but by the same token they can worsen significantly if the recommended quantities of product are exceeded.

An excess of lubrication can give rise to a variation in the temperature of the oil causing accelerated degradation. Depending on the type of machinery, an increase in temperature may be recorded as a result of the irregular distribution of the oil among its various components or a fall may arise from adding more liquid that is required to the tank, which produces a general cooling. In this second case, the decrease in temperature might increase the viscosity in the oil and thus its resistance to slipping, so that it would be pumped with less solvency. Regardless of what may be the effect of the excess of lubrication on the temperature of the oil, both an increase and a decrease lead to an abnormal operation of the oil. This behaviour, which is recorded outside the patterns of normality, is swiftly detected by the Atten2 sensors.

Machinery sensitive to excessive lubrication

All industrial processes in sectors such as wind power, automation, the chemical industry and electrical generation, are susceptible to alterations in their operation and to suffering breakdowns as a consequence of an excess of lubrication, independently of the size of the machinery that is affected.

In the case of big machines, with large volumes of lubricant, such as gas or steam turbines, or hydraulic presses, their very size makes it difficult to carry out a fast diagnosis when there is a breakdown, which leads to huge financial costs and unintended stoppages of production. For machinery of this type it is especially interesting to install an ecosystem of Atten2 sensors, to constantly monitor the operation of its various critical components thus making it possible to prevent errors of lubrication, or of other origins resulting in breakdowns.

The simplest and smallest mechanisms can be just as critical, and monitoring them as well is highly recommended. This is true of gear mechanisms, which are widely used in industry and where a failure can lead to stoppages in the production system.

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