Predictive maintenance of hard-to-access plants, no unnecessary oil changes, no unnecessary laboratory costs, and less environmental impact are some of the benefits of a new system that can monitor the condition of lubricating oils, hydraulic oils, and other fluids in industrial installations without interrupting ongoing operations. The compact sensor system is available as a portable unit or can be built into industrial plants, wind turbines, and other machinery.

An in-built measurement system enables the optimum time for an oil change to be predicted even for remote industrial installations.

The system, which uses optical methods to measure the oil's chemical makeup and the degree of particle loading, can also predict the best time for an oil change. The system can be integrated directly into industrial installations where it continuously measures and monitors oil aging and degradation while the installation continues to operate. The data from the measurement system are currently transmitted by mobile radio communication so that analysis and assessment can be performed off-site. The method is also suitable for use with hydraulic systems. And the measurement system can test not only oils, but can also be used to monitor the condition of other fluids.

The system involves shining light into the liquid being monitored. Light from a laser diode is scattered by any particles present in the oil or fluid. The scattered light is then recorded by photodiodes and the signals analyzed. The system allows users to distinguish between metal dust, other solid particles, and air bubbles, and to determine the concentration of each.