Preventing Equipment Failures with Real Time Oil Condition Monitoring


With the commitment and investment by the Government in renewable energy and the continuing changes to the energy mix actually produced due to tighter controls and legislation, flexible and reliable peak capacity has never played a more critical role in ensuring that the lights quite literally “Do Not Go Out” .

Real Time Oil Monitoring

The life blood of any engine is the hydrocarbon or synthetic based oils which provides the essential lubrication to ensure trouble free operation. As over 80% of all equipment failures are due in some form to lubrication issues and the use of more diverse fuel types such as Methane is further putting pressure on all operators to regularly monitor and maintain this fluid to ensure efficient running and reduce the significant risk of engine failure. That is why the measurement and monitoring of the Quality of the oil for ongoing performance and reliability is paramount.

It is essential that both suppliers and operators of industrial equipment which relies on oil for lubrication and/or operation, ensure that the oil is correctly specified and maintained in the optimal condition for reliable and cost effective operation. Commercial expectations are also placing greater pressure on OEM’s to supply extended warranties whilst operators are constantly looking for effective cost savings

Traditional offline oil sampling techniques are widely used within industry for the purpose of oil monitoring, there is the risk that the condition of the machine and/or lubricant could become seriously contaminated or otherwise affected at a point just after or at least between sampling times. To reduce this problem a risk assessment program is usually carried out to establish the ideal frequency of monitoring any given equipment. However, this ideal frequency of monitoring could prove difficult to justify both financially and practically in case where safety of sampling is an issue or the equipment is in remote locations, such as isolated pumping stations, a wind turbine etc.

To overcome this problem and reduce the risk further it follows that an accurate Real Time Oil monitoring solution would deliver significant advantages in such cases. Historically the challenge has been that the available technology has been proven to be unreliable and intensive to the key changes in the oil condition and has therefore failed to deliver a commercial base on which to deploy such technology. However with the advent of the patented Tan Delta Oil Quality Sensor , a revolutionary broad spectrum sensor which accurately and reliably monitors all of the key factors within the oil in Real Time, the ability to realise a significant return on investment has now become a reality.

The Tan Delta Oil Quality Sensor is based on a variant of the dielectric properties of the oil, the sensor uses patented technology based on dielectric loss factor (Tan Delta), which is far more sensitive indicator of oil condition than Permittivity alone (often known as dielectric constant). For most oils, the loss factor will vary from perhaps 0.005 (fresh oil) to 0.1 when contaminated, a dynamic range of 20:1. This is compared with just 0.8:1 for dielectric constant (which changes typically from 2.3 to 2.9), and therefore it is evident that Tan Delta is many times more sensitive than traditionally understood and used dielectric constant.

Figure 1 shows the data produced in the laboratory from oil samples taken from a Gas Engine running on Methane fitted with the Tan Delta Oil Quality Sensor. Clearly there are direct relationships with the oil sensor readings and the typically measured oil condition-monitoring laboratory data.

Table 2 shows the above results in detail. The analyses show a fall in TBN, a rise in TAN and a rise in oxidation resulting in the laboratory recommending a caution value where appropriate. The data shown is Table 2 confirms that the oil sensor reliably tracked the oil Condition


Sensor Technology

The Tan Delta Oil Quality Sensor uses patented technology to accurately monitor the various changes which take place as oil ages and degrades. Every single oil which is available on the market today has a unique chemical makeup, this is as a result of the different base oil and the individual additive package which has been utilized. The Tan Delta Oil Quality Sensor can easily be configured for the specific oil which is being used, the sensor knows what this oil looks like when it is clean and therefore accurately report any changes which take place.

The sensor works by introducing a very high frequency AC voltage into the fluid to precisely measure the oil’s ability to store energy (Capacitance) and the oil’s ability to conduct current (Conductance).

As an oil ages and/or get contaminated the amount of polar molecules with the oil increase dramatically and by combining the measurement factors (patent method) we can assess the amount of change (damage) which has occurred.

To see how we can assist you in saving money, please call Lourens Janse Van Rensburg on +27 (0) 79 512 8027 or alternatively via email, Or visit our website:

Plant Uptime • Plant Safety • Asset Reliability