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Benefits of oil analysis

The dark secrets inside gearboxes revealed by Konecranes’ new oil analysis detectives.

Well lubricated gears mean crane can perform efficiently, with considerably reduced wear and tear over time.

To keep crane oil at optimum levels and to integrate oil changes efficiently into maintenance schedules, Konecranes is introducing its new Oil Analysis service to Australasia and the Asia-Pacific.

As a global leader in crane maintenance – with more than 600,000 pieces of lifting equipment of all makes and models under service agreement worldwide – Konecranes is offering Oil Analysis as a supplement to its service agreements. When combined with routine inspections and preventive maintenance, the cost of doing an Oil Analysis can be kept very low.

“Good managers know that the key to changing a crane’s oil is finding a good balance of not too late (when it may impact on performance, cause additional wear, or even screech in protest), and not too early (when it will add unnecessary cost, without delivering a benefit,” says Mr Mark Beckwith, Australian Service Operations Manager, Konecranes and Demag Pty Ltd (a member of the Konecranes Group).

With a crane’s gear case sealed off, it means visible signs of wear and tear are hidden from view, as the crane continues performing vital tasks for industries such as construction, public and private infrastructure, logistics, manufacturing, metals, automotive, steel, mining and energy, waste-to-energy and utilities.

“This is where Oil Analysis comes in – it will tell you what kind of oil is residing in your gear case, and whether it conforms to the manufacturer’s recommendation for your crane,” explains Mr Beckwith.

“All oil naturally degrades through usage, so even with oil that is exactly the right type and viscosity, there will be an optimal time to perform a change. To keep costs to a minimum, Oil Analysis can help plan these changes to occur during routine maintenance,” he said.

“Don’t wait for your gearbox to start whining at you – by then it may be too late. The right oil change at the right time can mean equipment will perform for longer.”

Oil Analysis identifies three key findings:

To properly analyze a crane’s oil condition, a qualified Konecranes technician will pull an oil sample in just a few minutes, even from a sealed gear case.

A small tube is inserted over the opening where the oil is added, or through the plate or cover used for inspection access. If this is performed during a mandatory crane inspection, or routine preventative maintenance, the test is performed with no loss of time, and at minimal cost.

  1. The kind of oil is residing in the crane. It will determine if it is the correct oil, according to the crane manufacturer’s recommendations, and if it is at the correct viscosity for the operating environment. Mr Beckwith explains that viscosity requirements for cranes in cold climates can be substantially different from those operating in hot climates. In general, synthetic oil is suitable for a wider range of ambient temperatures than mineral oil with the same viscosity grade.

Mr Beckwith adds that cranes that operate 24/7 will have different requirements to cranes used intermittently, where the oil begins colder on startup

  1. If the oil is degraded or contaminated. If this is the case, it may not be doing an adequate job of lubricating the gears, which may be causing premature wear and reduced crane performance.
  2. If there are any wear metals present. This is a clear sign of gear wear, says Mr Beckwith. “The degree of contamination also gives clues to the severity of the problem – often long before any outward symptoms, such as unusual noises, are present,” he says.

“Over the lifetime of a crane – which can often span more than 20 years – Oil Analysis gives maintenance teams the opportunity to identify problems early, before they lead to unplanned downtime or safety problems,” says Mr Beckwith.

Reporting and integration with maintenance services

In the final analysis, Konecranes Oil Analysis operates as an inexpensive backchannel that reveals secrets a gearbox may be hiding. With this information, maintenance managers can plan with Konecranes experts the optimal time for oil replacement, gearbox repairs, overhauls or the future modernisation needs of equipment.

If warranted, a Safety Notification that notes any urgent problems is delivered to the customer before the equipment is returned to operation. Typically, after seven days, a detailed, but easy-to-interpret colour-coded report is made available online, accessed through the yourKONECRANES customer portal, or delivered as a pdf.

“Oil Analysis brings big benefits when part of a preventive maintenance program – such as Konecranes’ CARE Preventive/Predictive Maintenance program – and is an essential part of predictive maintenance,” says Mr Beckwith.

Oil Analysis benefits

Benefits of performing a Konecranes Oil Analysis include:

  • It can help determine if an oil change is needed for equipment with an unknown previous oil change history
  • It can help identify oil quality issues between scheduled oil changes
  • It can provide early warning of hidden defects
  • It can aid in planning maintenance actions to avoid unscheduled downtime
  • It can help increase efficiency, availability, performance, productivity and safety of crane systems and hoists
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