Insights from industry

Improving Equipment Service Life with Onsite Oil Analysis

insights from industryRobert WOPPERERVice President, Business Development at Spectro Scientific

Robert Wopperer, Vice President of Business Development at Spectro Scientific, talks to AZoM about how the Spectro Scientific MicroLab oil analyzer has helped reduce cost, save time and improve equipment service life in the city of Boston, USA.

Can you talk about the business problem that prompted the Central Fleet Garage to develop an onsite oil analysis program?

The City of Boston’s Central Fleet Garage wanted to take a more proactive role in preventative maintenance of the equipment that is serviced at its facility, which is the reason that the Garage decided to look at onsite oil analysis.

The Central Fleet Garage reorganized in 2013, with a focus on improving cost effectiveness for the tax payers of Boston. Central Fleet identified oil analysis as a key enabler for cost and efficiency improvements.

Can you talk about the return on investment and what Central Fleet has experienced since the implementation of the analyzer?

According to Superintendent of the Central Fleet Garage, the analyzer has been beneficial in enabling Central Fleet to extend oil drain intervals. For example, the mechanic samples and tests the oil. In 15 minutes, he can determine whether an oil change is required, or if the oil drain can be extended another cycle.

It enables the mechanics to work quicker and smarter, which is what Central Fleet was searching for when they discovered the TruckCheck®, now called the MicroLab® analyzer.

Oil drain interval extension saves the cost of oil, filters, disposal and labor in today’s MRO budget.  Even greater savings are realized from diagnosing mechanical problems before they lead to catastrophic failure, preventing lost productivity of asset availability and operation.

What’s the typical workflow for their mechanics? Can you describe the process of a vehicle coming in for maintenance and what the mechanic does in terms of workflow and how the oil analyzer is incorporated into that workflow?

The mechanics brings in the piece of equipment as it is scheduled for preventative maintenance. The mechanic will then draw a sample and put it on the machine. The equipment is then placed on the lift, and the mechanic will start the safety portion of that preventative maintenance check.

In the meantime, the machine has already run the oil analysis and the technician knows whether or not the oil needs to be changed or whether they can extend the oil drain interval.

If the analyzer indicates that the oil is within the normal specification range, you are good to go. You can extend the oil interval and finish your preventative maintenance. The fleet vehicle is ready to go back into the field.  

What do the technicians see as the main benefit?

It helps them complete the job faster and smarter. A mechanic’s time is valuable. Not only does it provide him a clear picture of oil condition, it cuts down on the mechanics’ labor time.  He’s free to move to the next job.

It also enables the technicians to schedule a more efficient flow of equipment coming in and out of the Garage. As a result, the equipment down time in the garage is cut in half. Larger pieces of equipment may only spend two hours in the garage for a preventative maintenance, and then they're back out on the streets of Boston.

Can you provide a bit more detail about the cost savings Central Fleet has realized?

Central Fleet maintains over 1100 pieces of equipment that are serviced regularly. Out of that 1100, there are approximately 380 larger pieces of equipment requiring multiple quarts of oil and multiple filters.

In the case of the large fleet vehicles, if we’re able to do extend the oil drain intervals, we are saving approximately $60 worth of oil per vehicle. Oil is approximately $2 a quart not including the cost of the filters and the labor. In total, it adds up to an approximate saving of $150 for a large piece of equipment like a garbage truck or snow removal vehicle.

Beyond oil drain interval extension, how can the oil analyzer help the Central Fleet Garage to identify other problems?

The Microlab® oil analyzer allows you to identify mechanical failures inside the engine where the mechanic can’t easily see. For example, the analyser can help you identify an issue with your EGR cooler leaking anti-freeze inside of the oil.

This is a big problem of late, with the new emissions regulations. Being able to stop coolant from entering the engine is critical, and will ultimately reduce downtime and prevent a potential engine failure.  

What is the benefit of getting immediate results versus waiting for results from the lab?

By having the answers right away, it takes all the guesswork out. If there’s something going on, you know within 15 minutes. The customer states, “The machine has been pretty much bullet proof.  The analyzer is used regularly by Central Fleet and maintenance has been minimal”.  

According to our client, “It’s a very precise piece of equipment used to extend oil life. It has made scheduling preventative maintenance easier and quicker.”

What advice would you give to other fleet managers who are evaluating on site oil analysis for their fleets?

I would definitely encourage other fleet managers to do their research and discover just how beneficial this tool could be in their daily routine of trying to extend oil life and cut costs at their facilities. It has been beneficial for the City of Boston’s Central Fleet Garage in saving cost and improving workflow for routine maintenance, and reducing asset downtime by identifying mechanical problems before they lead to a loss in asset availability.

Robert Wopperer

About Robert Wopperer

Robert Wopperer is a marketing and sales executive with more than 15 years of experience in leading successful teams in the global scientific instrument industry.

He specializes in transforming analytical instrument product lines for use outside of the lab, enabling companies to fundamentally change the way they do their work.

Prior to joining Spectro Scientific, Bob led the product and marketing teams at Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Portable Analytical Instruments business and Oxford Instruments’ Industrial Analysis Division.  Mr. Wopperer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Philosophy from the College of the Holy Cross.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Stuart Milne

Written by

Stuart Milne

Stuart graduated from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with a first-class honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After working on a start-up company involved in LED Lighting solutions, Stuart decided to take an opportunity with AZoNetwork. Over the past five years at AZoNetwork, Stuart has been involved in developing an industry leading range of products, enhancing client experience and improving internal systems designed to deliver significant value for clients hard earned marketing dollars. In his spare time Stuart likes to continue his love for art and design by creating art work and continuing his love for sketching. In the future Stuart, would like to continue his love for travel and explore new and exciting places.

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