Insights from industry

What's Next for Testing Lubricant Oils?

insights from industryRobert WoppererDivision Vice President of Sales & Business DevelopmentSpectro Scientific

Can you tell us what Spectro Scientific does, as well as its history?

Spectro Scientific is the world’s leading supplier of lubrication oil testing equipment. We began as an equipment supplier to laboratories that provided lubrication oil testing as a service. Recently, we have expanded beyond the traditional lab to supply equipment for on-site and field portable applications.

This started about ten years after Spectro Scientific was founded. We were contracted by the US government to design portable systems that could be used by the military and embassies worldwide to support the mechanical assets in the system.

Today, Spectro Scientific is the exclusive supplier of equipment to the US Military’s Joint Oil Analysis Program (JOAP), which has used the SpectrOil Optical Emission system for the past 25 years.

In recent years, the US military has adopted Spectro Scientific’s FieldLab as the next-generation equipment for their oil analysis program. It is currently known as EFAS, Expeditionary Fluid Analysis System. It is essentially a lab in a box.

We have grown our commercial footprint well beyond government applications to become the world’s leading supplier of oil analysis equipment for asset owners and maintainers. We can now bring the equipment on-site and provide answers in minutes, whereas it previously used to take days or even weeks to reach the end user.

Spectro Scientific is currently part of AMETEK Incorporated. AMETEK has significantly contributed to Spectro Scientific’s global outreach. We are now operating in more than 70 countries globally and witnessing the benefits of our oil analysis equipment being used in a wide variety of industrial and regional settings.

oil and lubricant analysis

Image Credit: Spectro Scientific

Can you tell us about the history of patent innovation?

Spectro Scientific holds over 70 patents centered around the fundamental notion of performance fluid analysis. We use a variety of methods, including optical emission spectroscopy, particle imaging, and mid-infrared analysis, to better understand three basic concepts: fluid condition, sources of contamination, and wear metal analysis.

We combine all the test information into a single concept of diagnostic determinations and prognostic predictions.

Can you discuss both traditional and cutting-edge industries where Spectro Scientific’s equipment is being used?

Spectro Scientific’s equipment is used in several heavy industries worldwide, including electric power generation. We support the fleets of vehicles used by the global mining industry. Our technologies are also employed in light manufacturing, such as automotive and food and beverage manufacturing, as well as cutting-edge applications like Formula One racing and space exploration.

What do you envision for the future of oil analysis?

As Spectro Scientific looks to the future, we are considering several shifting dynamics in the marketplace. One of them is an aging workforce in the industries. To support the industries that are facing experts retiring, we are doing our very best to keep the expertise in the box.

One key area is focusing on the testing of the oil sample itself, where we have simplified and automated the system to handle everything from a bottle of oil to getting the final chemical analysis results.

Another area we are focusing on is the translation of these chemical analysis results into maintenance activities. We are using advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to essentially put the expert in the box, allowing the system to automatically translate chemistry data into maintenance tasks.

oil and lubricant analysis

Image Credit: Spectro Scientific

Can you explain the environmental effects of oil analysis?

Oil analysis can reduce the carbon footprint of many industrial operations. There are a high number of unnecessary oil changes performed on today’s equipment. Testing the oil can tell you whether or not an oil change is required.

By increasing the oil drain interval of an asset, in other words reducing the number of annual fluid changes, one realizes a reduction in labor, material and waste disposal costs with a postive benefit of the associated reduction in carbon footprint. 

A second benefit of oil analysis is that it reduces carbon footprint by increasing the life of machinery. There is a trillion-dollar annual war against friction in the world’s oil wetted machinery, and if we can extend the life of the machinery by 1 % or 5 %, we can reduce the associated carbon footprint of producing new replacement machinery by that same amount.

When multiplied by the value of the world’s industrial machinery, extending the lifetime of the equipment by even a few percentage points results in a significant reduction in the overall carbon footprint.

Can you discuss the impact of oil analysis in the age of Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is about using data to improve the performance of traditional industries. Spectro Scientific has a vast collection of information about oil analysis as it relates to the world’s machinery, and we are using that information in novel and creative ways to improve the overall efficiency of our customer’s operations.

As we look ahead to Industry 4.0, Spectro Scientific is developing advanced algorithms and using artificial intelligence to truly embed the expert within the software. The user will generate the chemical analysis data, which we will translate through algorithms and artificial intelligence directly into diagnostics and, more importantly, into prognostics or predictions about the life cycle of the fluids and the mechanical assets.

Can you talk about Spectro Scientific’s mission?

Our goal at Spectro Scientific is to put the oil analysis laboratory into a single solution. This includes the ability to test the oil easily, as well as to translate that test data into maintenance activities and future reliability projections.

The LaserNet Fines exemplifies our technology’s evolution to meet modern workplace demands. This advanced particle imaging system replaces traditional ferrography, where scientists manually examine particles under a microscope to determine their source based on shape, color, or specific markings. Instead, the LaserNet Fines utilizes neural networks to analyze image data and convert it into trendable parameters, streamlining the process and enhancing accuracy.

We can determine the source of particles, whether they are due to water, sand, dirt, or which type of wear. All of this information is processed through the LaserNet Fines and then fed into the algorithms that produce the diagnostic and prognostic determinations.

lasernet, oil

Image Credit: Spectro Scientific

About the Speaker

Robert Wopperer is Division Vice President of Sales and Business Development, and boasts over 25 years of Sales and Marketing leadership experience within the Scientific Instrument industry. Having held pivotal roles at Oxford Instruments, ThermoFisher Scientific, and AMETEK, showcasing a remarkable ability to drive success, Robert now spearheads Sales and Marketing at Spectro Scientific, and received the AMETEK Corporate Innovation Award. His academic background includes a BS in Chemistry and a BA in Philosophy from the College of the Holy Cross.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by AMETEK Spectro Scientific.

For more information on this source, please visit AMETEK Spectro Scientific.

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.

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