Overview

Municipal fleets include public works vehicles, public transportation and emergency vehicles. Keeping the vehicles in these fleets up and running is critical to the operations of any city or town. Many locations have their own maintenance garages to service the municipal fleet which can include hundreds or even thousands of vehicles.

Sending oil samples to an outside laboratory works but it can be expensive and results can take days or weeks. Waiting for results means the vehicle might be back on the road and failures could happen before the analysis is obtained.

Having on-site oil analysis capability can help fleet managers solve issues while the vehicle is still in the garage. It also helps them achieve operational cost savings, reduce downtime and unexpected failures as well as manage the work flow of the service bays. Many cities and towns also use oil analysis to help achieve “green fleet” initiatives by monitoring the condition of the oil and changing only when necessary rather than on a time or mileage basis.


Challenges

  • Oil drains are expensive for large vehicles

By monitoring oil condition with on-site analysis the maintenance staff can determine if the oil drain interval can be extended safely. Reducing the number of oil drains required per vehicle by even just one time per year can provide significant savings across a fleet of vehicles. This also helps achieve green initiatives by reducing the oil consumption and oil disposal.

  • Repair costs can be high

Oil analysis can help identify potential problems early – before they become catastrophic and costly repairs.  On-site analysis provides the service technicians the information about the vehicle while it is still in the garage so repairs can be made immediately before it goes back out on the road.  Early identification could mean the difference between a $2,500 EGR cooler repair and a $30,000 engine rebuild.

  • Downtime of vehicles impacts service and revenue

When a vehicle is unavailable due to mechanical problems it means it is not available to provide necessary service like in the case of a city transit bus or if it is part of the public works fleet for things like snow removal.  For companies like freight haulers or mining equipment it means it will impact the revenue generating service it provides. Oil analysis can help fleet managers to ensure their vehicles will be up and running when they are needed.

  • Managing maintenance work flow can be difficult

A busy service garage, especially one that maintains a large fleet of vehicles needs to optimize the flow of their vehicles to get them in, serviced and back on the road in a timely manner. Many fleet customers of the MicroLab oil analyzer will bring a vehicle in and immediately pull an oil sample for test. While it is running they can conduct other necessary service checks. Within 15minutes, they will know whether they need to change the oil or if they can move on to other tasks. Incorporating oil analysis into the routine diagnostics checks allows fleet service providers to be more efficient with their time.


Typical Tests

 Wear

Particle count - a high particle count or a rapid increase in particles can foreshadow an imminent failure. 

Particle composition - it is often important to understand the elemental composition of particles in order to find out where they came from. Optical Emission Spectroscopy gives the user elemental information for up to 32 elements, from Li to Ce (varies with application).

 Chemistry 

Viscosity - The main function of lubrication oil is to create and maintain a lubrication film between two moving metal surfaces. Insuring the viscosity is within recommended ranges is one of the most important tests one can run on lube oil. 

Total Acid Number (TAN) - TAN is measured to determine the corrosive potential of lubrication oils. If the TAN gets too high the oil can induce corrosion of machine parts and should be changed.

Oxidation, Nitration, Sulfation - Lubricating oil at elevated temperatures can react with oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, as well as sulfur in fuel, to form undesirable by-products that can affect the oil's viscosity and lead to corrosion or damage of equipment. 

 Contamination

Fuel Dilution - Fuel dilution in oil is a condition caused by excess, unburned fuel mixing with engine oil in an engine crankcase. Hydrocarbon-based fuel, usually with a lower vapor pressure than the lubricant, has a thinning effect, lowering the oil viscosity. Oil film strength is reduced, increasing the cylinder liner and bearing wear.

Soot - Soot is a product of combustion and has always been found in engine oils. Soot can use up an oil's additives and deposit on vital engine surfaces.

Glycol - Glycol is found in engine coolant. If glycol is found in engine oil it typically indicates there is a leak in the engine that can cause catastrophic damage to the cylinder or cylinder wall.


Municipal Fleet Products

LubeTrak - Fluid Analysis Information Management System

LubeTrak is a web-based subscription service that automatically updates, tracks, analyzes, stores, and graphs your company’s fluid analysis test results.  LubeTrak offers companies of all sizes a proactive, easy-to-use, and understand management information system that includes cloud-based storage.

MicroLab 40 - On-Site Oil Analyzer

The MicroLab Series is a fully automated oil analyzer that provides diagnostic analysis of engine, generator, gear box, hydraulics, power steering, and transmission fluids. The MicroLab is used in virtually every industry that operates equipment powered by engines including: automotive, trucking, energy, mining, heavy equipment, government (military, municipal).

CoolCheck 2 - Automated Coolant and DEF Analyzer

CoolCheck provides automated measurement and profiling of coolant condition and diesel exhaust fluids integrity. The analyzer employs both NIR and UV spectrometers to determine the health of your coolant system.


Resources