A large municipality located in the northwestern United States operates a fleet of over 1,700 vehicles and over 3,000 pieces of motorized equipment which it uses for critical everyday functions. As you can imagine, maintenance on this equipment is expensive with oil changes alone costing in excess of $3 million dollars annually when done at set intervals. The municipality recognized that they could save millions of dollars by using oil analysis on their fleet to extend oil change intervals as well as identify and fix serious problems before they cause a catastrophic failure.
Hidden Issues of Off-Site Analysis
The municipality originally began by sending off oil samples to an outside lab for oil analysis. They achieved considerable savings but quickly came across the following issues:
- Lag Time Between Sampling and Results – Time between sampling and results could be as long as a week or more. This meant equipment had to be brought into the shop twice if an issue was detected.
- Lack of Historical Record – Labs do not typically provide historical data on equipment making it impossible to use trending to find issues that would otherwise go undetected.
- Cost Per Sample – High costs per sample add up quick when you own 4500+ pieces of equipment. This limits oil analysis to only be economically feasible for larger vehicles.
Due to these issues, the Operations Manager of the municipality felt they could benefit further by owning and operating their own instrumentation on-site.
MicroLab® for Point of Care Oil Analysis
After researching the leading oil analyzers on the market, the municipality selected the MicroLab® lubricant analysis system from Spectro Scientific for their on-site oil analysis program. They decided on the MicroLab® because of the instrument’s ease of use and its ability to automatically complete multiple analyses in under 15 minutes. Once the MicroLab® was deployed, the municipality immediately began to recognize the following benefits of on-site analysis.
- Cost Per Sample – The MicroLab® was able to reduce the per sample cost by over 80%. This not only provided immediate savings, but also meant it was economically feasible to do oil analysis on smaller equipment, compounding the savings further.
- Immediate Results – Obtaining results immediately meant any maintenance work could be done without having to bring the equipment back in a second time. This also prevented any catastrophic failure that may have occurred while they waited for results.
- Data Trending – Since the MicroLab® provides a historical record, data trending allowed the municipality to detect unusual spikes in results, which aided in detecting problems that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
The experience of this northwestern municipality demonstrates that oil analysis can generate a fast return on investment for any organization with a large fleet of vehicles and equipment. They were able to maximize their cost savings by moving their oil analysis on-site in which the cost and speed of analysis allowed technicians to evaluate more vehicles and take immediate maintenance action.
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