What is Tribology?

Tribology refers to the study of friction, wear, lubrication and contact mechanics, particularly in and engineering and mechanical context. The definition of Tribology is: 'interacting surfaces in relative motion.'


Machines consist of many component parts in contact with each other, such as bearings, gears, cams, tappets etc, which rub against each other in order to operate. Where two surfaces come into contact, such as gear teeth in a drive train, this rubbing of metal surfaces creates wear, which is undesirable and leads to increased friction, increased energy usage, and ultimately results in machine breakdown due to component failure.

In order to prevent components from wear through contact, and to reduce friction, lubricants such as mineral oils are used to create a thin film of protection between the metal surfaces of components.

Tribology and Oil Analysis

Ensuring the correct lubricant is used within a machine is of critical importance to maintaining the condition and reliability of that machine's importance. Factors such as machine, application, workload and operating environment are all important factors in the selection of a lubricant, be it an oil or grease, to ensure the components within the machine are protected during operation.

The practical application of Tribology within mechanical and maintenance engineering is often referred to as Industrial Oil Analysis.

The lubricants within machines can be sampled and analysed within a laboratory on a periodic basis, in order to assess the condition of the lubricant and the condition of the machine and components which are being protected.

If a lubricant has become contaminated, if it's chemical structure has begun to deteriorate, or if components such as bearings have begun to wear-out and release microscopic ferrous particles into the lubricant, then Laboratory Oil Analysis will detect all of these changes in the Lubricant.

A regular program of Oil Sampling and Analysis is a common Predictive or Condition-Based Maintenance practice within industry, particularly where machines are a critical element within a production process.

Monition Ltd operate one of the UK's largest, independent Oil Analysis Laboratories. With a sample analysis turnaround of two to three days, Monition's oil analysis service can quickly advise maintenance engineers on the Condition of their plant machinery and make precise recommendations for corrective actions, such as component replacements or lubricant renewal.

Customers in the Rail, Aggregates, Manufacturing, Food Processing and Aerospace Industries all rely on Monition's Tribology and Oil Analysis Service to advise them on the condition of their critical plant.

  • ICP AES (Inductively Coupled Plasma, Atomic Emission Spectroscopy) Elemental Analysis
  • Viscosity (Kinematic viscosity at 40°C and/or 100°C)
  • FW (Ferrous Wear Index)
  • Water Content
  • TIM (Total Insoluble Matter) (A measure of Soot and oxidation products)
  • Dielectric analysis of Chemical Index and Contamination
  • TAN (Total Acid Number)
  • TBN (Total Base Number)

Tribology Services

Monition's fully-independent Laboratory offers tribology Oil Analysis Services to customers across the world.

Detailed Lubricant Analysis is combined with clear, easy-to-understand Reporting to enable customers to understand the results of analysis and the actions that are required to help maintain the reliability of plant and machines. Monition is an Achilles Link-Up approved service-provider to the rail industry.

Monition's ISO 9001:2000 accredited service includes:

  • Supply of Oil sampling kits
  • FREEPOST return envelopes (UK only)
  • Screening of Samples on arrival at Lab
  • Detailed Oil Analysis
  • Reports emailed directly to customers

Online Reporting facilities available

The results of Oil Analysis can determine component wear, bearing wear, additive depletion / fuel dilution, coolant leaks, contamination, ingress of dirt, deterioration of internal seals etc.

When Oil Analysis is used as part of a proactive maintenance regime, such as Condition Monitoring and Condition-Based Maintenance, the results of oil samples taken from the same machines over a period of time can be trended to gain an insight into the machine's operating condition. Any changes in the machine's condition, such as the onset of internal component wear, can then be quickly identified and a time to failure can be estimated, thereby enabling Maintenance Technicians to make informed decisions on corrective repairs.

Monition Ltd operate one of the UK's largest independent Oil Analysis Laboratories, and provide a comprehensive suite of Oil Analysis services for used-oil samples.

Further Information regarding Tribology

Monition can provide assistance in all your Tribology applications. For further information on Tribology or arrange onsite alignment of plant machinery, please telephone Monition on 01909 722000. Alternatively you can email us at or complete our enquiry form and one of our sales team will contact you to discuss your requirements.

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Institute of Asset Managment Membership
Railway Industry Qualification Scheme
ISO 9001 Registered

Bondhay Complex, Whitwell Common, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S80 3EH, United Kingdom
Tel: 01909 722000 | | Company Number: 02218477