Given the rise of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) software over the past decade or so, many manufacturing plants have been able to streamline their operations, increase their machines’ efficiency and profitability, and prevent downtime. Especially when it comes to lubrication management, these software programs amplify the benefits of a lubrication management system by automating certain tasks and planning and aggregating data for you—which leads to increased employee productivity and decreased downtime associated with equipment failure. In layman’s terms, these automated programs help save time and eliminate the guesswork that often makes preventative maintenance procedures hard to keep up with; like making sure your machines’ lubrication levels are always correct and automatically alerting you whenever the lubricant reaches the end of its usable life.
For all you football fans out there, using lubrication management software can feel a lot like having a 12th man on your team, as these automated programs are like having a digital assistant ready to handle the majority of your lubrication maintenance responsibilities. That being said, there’s a plethora of different lubrication management software programs available today, each with their own set of pros and cons. To help your company find the right lubrication management software for your specific needs, we’ll explain the benefits of such software and a few key features to look for.
The Benefits of Lubrication Management Software
Poor lubrication reliability is the #1 cause of equipment failure around the world. Without the proper lubrication, machines face increased wear and strain, which directly leads to more repairs and machine downtime. By having a good lubrication management software in place, however, plant managers can maximize the reliability of each machine by having these programs automatically assess their machines’ lubrication needs (i.e., which lubricant and how much), show where the lubricant point is located, and explain the correct procedures and specific safety precautions you should take. In fact, here are just a few of the benefits you can expect with lubrication management software:
Efficiency — Of all the benefits of lubrication management software, none is more valuable than increased efficiency. Time is a resource you can never get back, and these programs certainly know how to help you make the most of your time. For example, with a lubrication management software program, a Maintenance Manager can check the status of each machine’s lubricants in the software, without walking from machine to machine or different buildings. Users can also see a daily/weekly schedule of all planned maintenance activities, conveniently stored in one place. Rather than having to remember each task and carry them out yourself, the software will automatically identify any problems as they occur and schedule a swift solution. Of course for this to work properly, you also need to have the corresponding hardware on your plant floor that integrates with the software and can deploy the necessary fluids for you.
Inventory Control — In addition to being efficient, lubrication management software also helps you control your inventory. These advanced programs can detect when your oil levels are getting low or reaching the end of their usable life, and can automatically replace it with the proper type and amount of oil. You don’t have worry about using too much or too little, and you also don’t have to worry about swapping it out too early or too late. These programs also track and analyze your machines’ oil usage so that you can properly plan and forecast your next order, helping you avoid any shortages or surpluses.
Minimized Downtime Due to Human Error — Let’s face it: no one’s perfect. As humans, it’s in our nature to make mistakes. Whether it’s using the wrong fluid in your machine, swapping out a fluid too early or too late, or simply not acting fast enough to prevent a machine failure, there are plenty of ways human error can throw off your lubrication management. With lubrication management software, however, your lubrication maintenance is almost entirely automated, and relies on comprehensive analytics and system data to make adjustments. There’s no guesswork involved; everything is done scientifically and exactly, helping eliminate the problems brought on by human error.
A word of caution that software alone will not eliminate human error. However, when coupled with a proper labeling procedure on the floor—which includes both identification of fluids and proper transfer/application containers from storage to end use—you can greatly reduce downtime due to lubrication errors.
Key Features of Lubrication Management Software
While it’s obvious lubrication management software offers several important benefits to various plant managers, in order to maximize those benefits, you have to make sure you choose the right software for your plant’s needs. Some programs are more advanced than others, some offer special helpful features (e.g., barcode code scanner input, online login access, etc.), and others are just better suited for different applications. Whatever the case might be, make sure you consider the following when choosing lubrication management software:
- Ability to track work orders
- Ability to track machine data and activities
- Tank level monitoring abilities
- Automatic notification of events (e.g., inventory tank low, floor reservoir low, work order posted, etc.)
- Remote data entry capabilities
- Mobile application/capabilities
- Link to host network – can anyone on your company’s network login? Can users access data online, outside of the network (i.e in the Cloud)?
- Number and type of automated capabilities
- And more!
Lubrication Management Programs for Plant Managers
While U.S. Lubricants doesn’t offer any lubrication management software to our customers, as an industry leader in lubricants and lubricant equipment, we’re certainly aware of the popular programs and industry leaders in that category. If we’ve convinced you to consider adding lubrication management software to your operations, here are three that you might want to check out:
As the world’s most widely used lubrication reliability software, it’s hard to go wrong with LUBE-IT. Each week, the software generates a dynamic list of pertinent tasks for each route so lubrication responsibilities are always clear and known. These lists can be printed or synchronized to mobile devices and contain complete details about each lube point, including precise location and the quantity and type of lubricant to be applied.
The central concept of a total lubrication management program is to track all of your lubricated assets and keep them operating effectively. With MAINTelligence, plant managers can automate and manage all of their lubrication management functions while managing their hand-held inspection rounds using the same software tools they use to manage all their other duties.
Known for its unique features, LUBRILYS is another popular lubrication management software. It improves data reliability, enables remote data entry (e.g., using tablets to scan barcodes on the lubrication point), and it is also a web designed application that can run on any IT platform and could be used in a single-station or in a network environment. The software can also be used as an online application service (Cloud).
NOTE: Some manufacturers of fluid management system components have proprietary software, so make sure you consider the compatibility with your facility’s existing equipment. For example, manufacturer PIUSI makes multiple system components (e.g., user control panels, tank monitors, transmitters, etc.), but their OCIO Desk Software is the accompanying interface. Likewise, if your plant also has a CMMS, take advantage of any integrations it has with lubrication-specific software. Many CMMS allow you to integrate other systems such as ERP, accounting, and fuel/fluid tracking, and some also have mobile interfaces.
For more information about the equipment needed to successfully kickoff your lubrication management plan, or more information about how U.S. Lubricants can help you implement an LMP for your plant, please contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.