Tribology is the general term that refers to design and operating dynamics of the bearing-lubricationrotor support structure of machinery. Several tribology techniques can be used for predictive maintenance: lubricating oil analysis, spectrographic analysis, ferrography, and wear particle analysis.
Lubricating oil analysis, as the name implies, is an analysis technique that determines the condition of lubricating oils used in mechanical and electrical equipment. It is not a tool for determining the operating condition of machinery. Some forms of lubricating oil analysis will provide an accurate quantitative breakdown of individual chemical elements, both oil additive and contaminates,
contained in the oil. A comparison of the amount of trace metals in successive oil samples can indicate wear patterns of oil-wetted parts in plant equipment and will provide an indication of impending machine failure.
Until recently, tribology analysis has been a relatively slow and expensive process. Analyses were conducted using traditional laboratory techniques and required extensive, skilled labor. Microprocessor-based systems are now available which can automate most of the lubricating oil and spectrographic analysis, thus reducing the manual effort and cost of analysis.