Case Studies

Case Study: Air Compressor Wear in Locomotives


After performing Oil Analysis on locomotives in the rail Industry for many years now, Techenomics International has seen the many benefits and large amount of dollars companies can save, by implementing a preventative maintenance schedule.

It only takes the saving of one or two engine/Compressor failures to underwrite the cost of the oil analysis programme.

The example outlined in this case study, highlights work Techenomics carried out for an existing client and how their oil analysis programme identified the need for maintenance intervention, preventing engine failure from occurring.


A locomotive air compressor was identified with a sudden jump in iron in the oil sample by the Techenomics oil analysis team. The trending was shown as a sudden increase in iron to 110 ppm that exceeded the high end alarm level.

Locomotive Compressor- Iron in Oil Results


Based on oil analysis results and failure analysis recommendations provided by Techenomics the client was advised to undertake an internal compressor inspection. This request was followed by a second sample five weeks later which showed a further jump in iron to 394 ppm and the client again was urgently advised to carry out a best practice inspection on the compressor.

Nearly a month later a third compressor oil sample was taken that demonstrated an increase in the iron to 1414 ppm, a quadruple increase over the previous sample. Based on the oil analysis results Techenomics once again advised the client that an urgent inspection of the compressor needed to be completed.


The compressor was inspected and a metal in the sump was discovered and as a result the compressor was changed.

Ongoing oil samples by Techenomics will provide information from the beginning of the life cycle of the replacement compressor.

Advantages of Oil Analysis identifying Air Compressor Wear –

  • Can able to service/Replace the Compressor under OEM warranty
  • Avoid catastrophic compressor failure.
  • Early detection of air compressor wear through oil analysis is vital in preventing engine failures.


Railway_CompressorOngoing oil analysis provides a mechanism for predictive maintenance which will provide early warning of potential problems and prevent costly engine failure. This incident also emphasises the importance of a timely response to requests for post oil analysis inspections for fuel or metal wear changes within an engine or compressor.

It only takes the saving of one or two engine/Compressor failures to underwrite the cost of the oil analysis programme.

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