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Do new lubricant deliveries need to be tested?

A question that is often asked by people who work with machines and machinery lubrication is whether or not new lubricant deliveries should be tested upon arrival. The simple answer is yes.

Even if you are buying lubricants from some of the best manufacturers, such as Fuchs and Shell, you must remember that it is people who formulate, inspect and deliver lubricants and all people, no matter how qualified they might be, are fallible.

When you consider that humans are involved in every step of the lubrication process from blending the formula to labelling the oil drums, you will begin to see why there is a very real need to test new deliveries of oil, even if it is the same brand you are already using, and even if it is coming from the same supplier.

We know that it is easy to neglect oil checks simply because you become complacent, or you don’t think you have the right knowledge to do so, but when you consider that in 2001 the American Petroleum Institute found that around 4% of motor oils had significant deviations and 16% had marginal deviations, you can quickly see how a quick oil inspection could pay off and ensure that you are not forced into equipment downtime.

Although slight oil deviations will have no describable effects in many cases, there are plenty of pieces of equipment that require a very delicate balance and using an untested oil in one of these machines could have dire consequences for you and your company.

What to look for

There are many errors that can be made in the lubrication chain, which if uncaught can cause problems for you and your equipment. They include:

Formulation errors

Most commonly found in blend-to-order oils, formulation errors can cause you to put the wrong additives and formulations into your machinery.

Blending errors

Sometimes when blending lubricants, the wrong concentration can be used, or a vital ingredient left out, leading to big problems.


Mixing two incompatible oils is a mistake that, although infrequent, is not unheard of. If such an error is not noticed, you could end up having to drain your system completely.


Mislabelling is something that occurs due to human error. Most oil suppliers handle vast amounts of product each year, so it is understandable that an error could occasionally be made.

If you do not have the time to test your new oil deliveries in-house, you may be able to ask your supplier for a certificate of analysis, which will put your mind at rest and show you exactly what is in your lubricant.

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