Oil is the lifeblood of farm equipment and machinery. If your oil has problems, your equipment has problems. Addressing these problems early can prevent catastrophic machine breakdowns. Additionally, keeping records of oil-analysis results can provide a path to “conditioned-based maintenance” by giving clues into how the oil system is performing, wear, and contamination problems.

Regular testing of oil can extend oil-drain intervals, lengthen equipment life, identify minor problems before they become major problems, and increase equipment reliability, according to POLARIS Laboratories, a fluid-testing service that offers kits for sending in oil and other fluid samples for analysis.

POLARIS (which stands for Performance Oil analysis Laboratories And Reliable Information Services) provides test packages for compressors, engines, gear systems, hydraulics, transmissions and turbines. The testing includes acid number, base number, elemental metals analysis, ferrography, fuel dilution, fuel soot, glycol, nitration, oxidation, particle count, particle quantifier, pH, viscosity and water.

0812-toolshed2According to the company, they usually can test and report on results within 24 hours of receiving an oil sample. POLARIS establishes online accounts with customers so that they can access and view test results and find the testing site nearest to them. The sample packages include complete instructions on how to draw an oil sample and send it in.

How often should you have your equipment oil analyzed? According to POLARIS, manufacturer recommendations provide good guidelines, but factors such as usage, temperature, and environment can make testing more often desirable.

As an alternative, farmers could begin using conditioned-based maintenance, which POLARIS describes as:

“. . .  perform(ing) equipment maintenance only when condition monitoring technologies have provided sufficient evidence that the condition of the fluid and/or the equipment merits action. Maintenance is not performed according to set intervals of time or usage — maintenance is done when technology has proven there is a problem to address and clear direction for correcting it has been established.”

In addition to oil, POLARIS can analyze filter debris, fuels, coolants and other fluids.

For more information, visit POLARIS’ website at www.polarislabs.com.