Preventing Oil Contamination Part 1: The Importance of Starting Clean

by on May 19, 2016 2 Comments

 Man with hoses

How do you get your equipment to run better and longer?  What you might not know is that particle contamination is the number one cause of lubricant related equipment failure, and that only effective filtration from the start can control harmful deposits.

Controlling fluid contamination by ensuring proper handling of lubricants begins long before the product ever reaches your equipment. In fact, lubricants leaving manufacturing and blend plants can contain contaminants too small to see with the naked eye.


Where do lubricants become contaminated?

The short answer is everywhere. The journey from plant to customer also presents many opportunities for lubricants to pick up contamination. It starts when lubricants are shipped by truck or rail and continues as oil is transferred to and from storage tanks and delivery vehicles. At every step along the way there are ample opportunities for contamination to occur.

But it can be difficult to develop filtration systems without knowledge of both hardware and lubricant properties. Not commonly known is that important additives in lubricants can be filtered out, or that formulations and filterability varies between brands and additive technologies. To complicate matters further, it is possible that more filtration is not always better.


Do you know the lubricant cleanliness requirements for each piece of equipment you operate?

Equipment manufactures do set lubricant cleanliness specifications to ensure their equipment operates optimally and adhering to those specs pays off for end users in equipment reliability, lower costs and maximum component life.

A good place to start is by researching OEM lubricant cleanliness requirements and specifications. Manuals, online information and even conversations with equipment OEMs and lubricant suppliers can all be valuable resources.

Next, once your lubricant supplier knows the cleanliness requirements for your equipment you can establish a process to verify that each delivery is certified, and that the supplier follows correct and appropriate filtration, air management and delivery processes. It is important to document everything, including establishing a chain of custody tracking system so the source of any problem can be quickly and easily identified.


Don’t ignore the first and most critical step

It doesn’t make sense to add lubricants with high particle contamination to a clean system. Start with clean lubricants that meet the equipment manufacturer’s fluid cleanliness code requirements. Working with a lubricant supplier and manufacturer to ensure every delivery received at your facility has been certified to a specific cleanliness level is vital in maximizing equipment life.

The benefits are obvious: controlling contamination prior to initial fill can save up to 90% of the cost to remove and repair later, according to Noria.  The very definition of equipment reliability– “A measurement of trouble-free time”— absolutely depends on receiving clean oil that meets the cleanliness specifications of manufacturers.


Where do I begin?

Do you want to learn more about how to verify that you are receiving clean, certified lubricants free from contamination? Start here by checking out
ISOCLEAN® Certified Lubricants, a Chevron program that certifies that clean lubricants are delivered to you from the very beginning.


NOTE: This is the first of a 2-part series focusing on preventing lubricant contamination to enhance equipment reliability.



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About the Author ()

Jason is currently the Americas ISOCLEAN Business Manager for Chevron Lubricants where he is implementing an industry leading business model for certified clean lubricants. He has 23 years of experience in the lubricants and fuel industry holding various positions in operations management, marketing, and sales with his primary passion focused on equipment reliability utilizing certified clean lubricants. He holds a B.S. degree in Business Marketing from the University of Wyoming and has been recognized by the Society of Tribologists and Lubricant Engineers as a Certified Lubricant Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst.

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  1.' Ryan Holyoak says:

    I think a good place to start would be to have the manufacturer fill the new equipment with ISO-Clean products. If you buy a piece of equipment and the oil that is in the equipment is not as clean as it should be, the damage will have already occurred.


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