Making £1M decisions may be as simple as saying start or stop, but oil analysis makes sure it’s the right one.

Million pound or Million dollar decisions are often used as the proverbial phrase to denote the importance of a decision. However oil analysis reports can have huge ramifications to costs in the short and long term to clients and can save clients millions over time.

The largest fluid analysis decisions I have been involved in were in the >£100M+ category, but the nature of some of these topics is too sensitive to discuss on this blog. Therefore, I will discuss 3 smaller £1M decisions I had to make in the space of 2 week period for a marine client. This particular client was one we had won 18 months earlier that managed a fleet of ferries and apart from a couple calls and emails I hardly ever heard from them. The samples came in and went out and the client was happy. Then came a call one Saturday afternoon saying a taxi was on its way with some samples and they would reach us by 6pm. There had been a failed oil pump that had broken up within the system and the client feared metallic debris may have entered the engine and they wanted to confirm if it was safe to start up again.

Apparently 3 years earlier a similar situation had occurred and upon startup the engine failed and it cost around £1.5M in repairs and lost ferry trips, so they were extra conscious to avoid this again. They wanted me to specifically give the confirmation of whether they could start the engine or not.

After performing an in-depth analysis of both the filters and the oils and establishing the maintenance actions already performed I gave the OK to start the engine, which can be nerve racking, but when you have the power of oil analysis behind you the decision is much easier. The machine ran fine, but over the space of a couple weeks a few more ferries experienced the same issues. This time I received calls in the middle of the night to let me know samples were coming and the same process was performed and again the all clear to start up was given. In the end 3 separate million pound decisions were made over whether to start the engines or not and oil analysis made sure on all 3 occasions it was the right one. It is not only the cost of repair or replacement of the engine that was saved, but every ferry trip missed was £10k in revenue lost so the potential failure costs could have been even higher.

The final finding was the pump failures was the ferry owners had not used a genuine manufacturers part and used a cheaper alternative that ended up failing on several vessels, which the owners switched to genuine parts going forward. It was however oil analysis that ultimately saved the day and prevented one bad decision of buying the wrong part turning into several costly failures.