By Joseph Evangelist
Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
If you want to build a culture of continuous improvement in your fleet, there are some basic things you can do.
Regularly engage in fluid analysis because it allows you to learn about the health of your fleet and how your engines are operating. Most fleets have a variety of assets operating in many different duty cycles and therefore can’t have one fluid change interval for the entire fleet. Fluid change intervals need to be adjusted and optimized, and that can’t be done without regular oil analysis. Pay attention to the specific recommendations from the particular vehicle’s OEM. An extension of the interval beyond the OEM’s recommendation could impact their willingness to honor the vehicle’s warranty.
The information you receive in your oil analysis reports allows you to make decisions on a unit-by-unit basis or holistically by asset class. The report can help you determine if you need to reduce the drain interval or if you can safely extend it. Of course, once a decision is made, you still need to continue regular fluid analysis to monitor the situation, especially as assets age.
For fluid analysis to be successful, pay attention to:
- Sample integrity: The quality of the sample is vital to getting an accurate health report on your vehicle. You need to make sure the sample is not contaminated with dirt and grime. Where you gather the sample from plays a role in how clean the sample is. Rather than pulling the sample from the oil pan, install a sample valve and use it to take the sample.
- Take severity reports seriously: The reports from the analysis will tell you what you need to pay attention to. If, for example, the analysis says there is water in the oil, you need to immediately pull that truck in for service in order to avoid a catastrophic failure.
To get the most out of your fluid analysis, partner with your lubricant supplier and the testing lab. Let them help you determine what your proper oil drains should be. Also, consider a quarterly review with the lab to discuss in-depth what is occurring with your vehicles.
Leverage the partnership with your lubricant supplier and lab to determine the best course of action so that you don’t over-extend drain intervals past a safe level and also so you’re not changing the oil too soon, which will add to your total cost of operation.
Regular oil analysis not only can help you keep your assets in top operating condition but can also keep you on the path of continuous improvement fleet-wide and in your shop.