Oil lab keeps Soldiers in the fight
May 28, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (May 28, 2012) -- "We take our time and make sure everything is done properly," said Andy Henson, an engineering technician at the Army Oil Analysis Program lab located on Kandahar Airfield. "It is very important to get aircraft serviced and maintained."
The Army Oil Analysis Program tests the lubricants Soldiers use to keep their aircraft, tanks, trucks, generators and other equipment in top operating condition. The engineers at the lab test for contaminants like sand, wear metals that come from the breakdown of engine gears or byproducts such as soot.
The lab tests oil from all types of equipment from Blackhawk helicopters to M1 Abrams tanks and everything in between said Henson, a native of Bennettsville, S.C. The lab processes about 1000 samples per month.
Using several different pieces of equipment, the lab will test the viscosity, or weight of the oil, they will look for metal particles and test for different contaminates that may be in a sample. Then based on those results the lab can make recommendations to Soldiers about whether or not to drain and purge the oil.
To ensure that the tests are accurate the lab is kept at a consistent temperature year round and equipment is tested daily to ensure that proper readings are being produced.
"If we give a wrong analysis of an oil sample, we are not doing our jobs," said Hanson.
Testing for contaminates and oil breakdown is especially critical for the maintenance of aircraft and is done regularly. The lab will provide results on aviation samples in 24 hours and non-aviation samples in 72 hours.
"Out here is a tough, tough environment, especially for aircraft," said Henson. "Abnormal test results will be emailed ASAP. We don't wait for the Soldiers to come back in."
Regular testing of the lubricants in a piece of equipment can help Soldiers maintain it and identify issues before something breaks. This helps reduce maintenance downtime and operating costs, helping keeping soldiers in the fight.
The lab is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week. The lab is located on the 401st Army Field Support Brigade compound. They support Coalition Forces in Regional Command- South. Labs are also located at Bagram Airfield and Camp Marmal.