In today's fast-paced industrial landscape, where facilities are running on leaner staff and striving for increased operational efficiency, the significance of quality data from oil analysis has surged.

Analyzing oil and grease samples has become pivotal in assessing the health of machinery and oils, driving data-driven maintenance decisions. This blog is for maintenance professionals, engineers, and industry experts involved in lubrication programs. By understanding the benefits and challenges of each approach, readers can make informed decisions to optimize their lubrication programs, enhance equipment reliability, and minimize downtime.

In-House Lab


Undertaking oil analysis in-house provides many advantages for optimizing maintenance programs. The most significant benefit is the drastic reduction in turnaround time, enabling swift sampling and analysis responses, preventing potential failures, and minimizing downtime. Creating a centralized data repository becomes effortless, capturing essential information on known faults, corrective actions, and results, serving as a valuable decision matrix for equipment maintenance and troubleshooting. Moreover, customizing testing based on specific applications and environmental requirements grants the freedom to choose precise tests and instruments, streamlining the analysis process and enhancing data relevance.

Centralized testing capabilities offer a geographical advantage for facilities with many near locations, optimizing cost-effectiveness by spreading equipment and upkeep expenses. Taking ownership of the testing and results fosters a sense of pride and commitment among maintenance teams. An onsite lab serves as a visual reminder of the paramount importance of lubrication while also providing opportunities for career advancement for lube technicians transitioning to lab technicians, strengthening their expertise in oil analysis.


Implementing an in-house lab poses significant cost challenges, including equipment expenses, personnel hiring, and training. Knowledgeable staff must be proficient in operating the lab equipment and oil analysis techniques, adding to the expenditure. Additionally, oil analysis tests need reagents, solvents, and other consumables, further contributing to the financial burden. Securing adequate lab space in a climate-controlled area with access to a computer station for result recording is another obstacle, as such dedicated spaces are often limited in industrial facilities.

In-house labs may also have testing limitations compared to commercial labs. Relying on a single test may not offer comprehensive insights into oil and machinery conditions. Instead, a strategic approach with complementary tests is essential, leveraging each test's strengths to compensate for weaknesses.

Using a commercial lab addresses some challenges of onsite testing, but it has its challenges. Outsourcing to any capable lab may not align with specific program requirements and objectives, necessitating careful consideration of third-party testing options. A well-informed decision that weighs costs, space, testing capabilities, and maintenance strategy will lead to an optimized oil analysis program that enhances equipment reliability and reduces maintenance expenses.

Commercial Lab


A commercial lab offers significant advantages for oil analysis programs. Commercial labs, holding ISO certifications, focus on data quality and precision through rigorous checks and advanced testing methods, surpassing the capabilities of most onsite labs. Specialized testing, including analytical ferrography and elemental analysis, provides critical insights into oil and machinery health, unavailable in many in-house labs.

Cost efficiency is another benefit, especially for high-volume sample commitments. Commercial labs offer helpful pricing for bulk sample submissions, and establishing sole-sourcing agreements further reduces expenses. Additionally, oil suppliers might contribute to analysis costs, enhancing cost-effectiveness. But, it must ensure that cost considerations maintain the breadth of the analysis.

Furthermore, commercial analysis taps into the power of big data, granting access to extensive equipment test results and operational data. This data repository enables more informed maintenance decisions, predicting normal versus abnormal wear and optimizing maintenance strategies for prolonged equipment lifespan. Embracing commercial analysis enhances data reliability, expands testing capabilities, and fosters cost-effective maintenance practices.


One significant challenge of using a commercial lab for oil analysis is the issue of timeliness. The process involves shipping the samples, leading to slower turnaround times. While expedited shipping can mitigate this, it comes with added costs. Moreover, as the oil sample remains in the bottle during transit, it may become less representative of the actual conditions inside the equipment, compromising the accuracy of the analysis. As the conditions inside the machine change, it becomes crucial to analyze the oil to understand its health.

Another challenge is the potential for "garbage data," which is more observed when relying on a commercial lab. The accuracy of the analysis depends on the representativeness of the sample received by the lab. Improper sampling, delays in sending samples, and failure to provide ancillary machine data can all lead to inaccurate results and hinder the ability to make informed decisions based on the analysis reports.

Furthermore, using a commercial lab may result in a lack of focus and ownership compared to in-house testing. When testing is done in-house, there is often a sense of pride and program ownership within the lubrication and reliability team. In contrast, relying on a commercial lab requires a dedicated internal champion to ensure buy-in from all personnel. To address this, it's a must to share the lab's results with all stakeholders and display the findings, fostering open discussions about the program's successes and failures and encouraging an honest exchange of thoughts and ideas.

iso cert

Combining Both Approaches

Combining in-house and commercial analysis offers an optimal approach for enhancing equipment reliability. Quick in-house tests can screen oils, determining if further analysis at a commercial lab is necessary. Ensuring all stakeholders and employees receive proper training in test interpretation and field practices prevents data skewing.

Incorporating real-time data from oil analysis sensors alongside periodic lab analysis provides valuable insights for focused corrective actions and a deeper understanding of equipment performance. Striking this balance enables more informed maintenance decisions, optimizing equipment reliability, and embracing the "do more with less" approach.

By blending in-house and commercial analysis strengths, organizations can achieve a comprehensive oil analysis program, fostering improved equipment performance and operational efficiency.


In today's fast-paced industrial landscape, where quality data from oil analysis plays a vital role in assessing machinery health and driving data-driven maintenance decisions, this blog aims to guide maintenance professionals, engineers, and industry experts involved in lubrication programs. Understanding the benefits and challenges of in-house and commercial analysis empowers readers to make informed decisions, optimize lubrication programs, enhance equipment reliability, and minimize downtime. The ideal solution combines both approaches, leveraging quick in-house tests for screening and real-time data from oil analysis sensors alongside periodic lab analysis for focused corrective actions, ensuring heightened maintenance decisions and operational efficiency in the dynamic industrial environment.

CRE Philippines empowers industries to increase UPTIME through our MachineDiagnostics™ program. We recognize that implementing maintenance programs for machine diagnostics via oil analysis requires careful planning to maximize resources. With CRE Philippines, you can start your MachineDiagnostics™ Program, backed by our unwavering support at every step. Our program includes a supportive Machine Wear Analysis Basic (MWAB) Seminar, equipping your team with the best lubrication practices. A dedicated support team handles all your concerns on our reports, and you gain access to expert advice from our certified Lube Analysts and Machinery Lubrication Consultants, offering in-depth explanations and comprehensive, actionable recommendations.

Whether you choose an in-house or commercial analysis approach, CRE Philippines meets your needs. If you select a commercial lab, our advanced facility and certified expertise await to provide you with quality data and reliable analysis. Choose CRE Philippines for a reliable partnership on your journey towards reliability excellence.

Cash, W. (2022, December). Machinery Lubrication.

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