We’ll admit it: lubrication maintenance can be very complex at times. From sampling the oil and refilling your machines to making repairs and installing new parts and systems, there are a lot of steps to follow and tasks to complete from week to week—and even day to day. There’s a reason many companies rely on automated computer programs to help them track their maintenance tasks, after all.
As complex as your lubrication might get, there are always ways to make things easier for yourself and your team. Simple things such as educating yourself about the proper processes, using standardized identification systems, properly labeling and storing your fluid, and defining specific KPIs are just a few ways that you can improve your oiling procedures and overall machinery life.
For anyone looking to improve their oiling results, the tips below should help make an immediate impact on creating more effective oiling protocols for your team:
1. Educate Yourself
I know what you’re thinking: becoming an expert on lubrication certainly isn’t simple—nor is it feasible. The thing is, you don’t have to be an expert. You should, however, rely on expert resources like our blog and Machinery Lubrication magazine for insightful articles that can help you solve your problems. By staying up-to-date on the latest industry articles and using other helpful resources, you can eliminate a lot of the confusion surrounding your oiling practices. If the articles aren’t enough, you can always rely on our contract lubrication services to help take care of your needs.
2. Standardize Identification Systems for Your Oil
One of the trickiest parts about lubrication maintenance is making sure you use the proper fluids in each machine. It’s not uncommon for a company to have 10 or more lubricants in storage at any given time, and it’s easy to confuse them if they aren’t properly labeled. Keep track of the different fluids you use by using a standardized identification system, like the color-coded system below.
3. Standardize Identification Systems for Lubrication Points
In addition to using a standardized identification system for your lubricants, it helps to identify which fluids are supposed to be used at each lubrication point on your machines. If you’re using a color-coded system like the one shown here, for example, use color coded tags from equiptment reliability sources to hang on your machines to coordinate which fluid goes where to ensure accuracy.
4. Dedicated, Fluid-Specific Containers
Another key tip to prevent problems with your lubrication maintenance is making sure that the fluids used are always clean and not contaminated. An easy way to do this is by setting aside dedicated, fluid-specific containers and only using the designated fluid in each container. If you know your red container is for AW-46, and AW-46 only, you can trust its cleanliness when you use it in your applications. For more tips and information about setting up a proper fluid storeroom for your plant, make sure you read our blog, The Ultimate Guide to Designing the Optimal Lubricant Storeroom.
5. Use a Dedicated Fluid Dispensing System
While most of the points on this list so far have dealt with how your fluids are stored, another point to consider is how those fluids are dispensed. Having a proper dispensing system can help maximize the efficiency of your operation, while minimizing contamination, spills, and personal injury.
6. Thoroughly Plan & Define Lubrication Routes
Does your lubrication maintenance plan follow a specific routine? If not, you should establish one. If it does, make sure you have it documented and planned out! Write down every task that needs to be completed on a given day, and create a checklist that makes it easy to follow. If the lubrication technician/oiler goes out on Monday, for example, list what machines he’s supposed to check on, the machines he needs to do PMs on, and don’t forget about the quick daily and weekly checkpoints. It’s a lot harder to mess up when everything you need to do is listed right in front of you. If your lubricator travels between facilities, utilize smartphone apps to help communicate.
7. Establish a Single Point of Contact for Higher-Level Questions
Don’t you hate it when there’s a problem and you’re not really sure who to ask about it? You can spend all day looking for an answer, and when you’re done, you might have 3 different answers from 3 different people—leaving you just as confused as before. To help eliminate miscommunication, make sure you establish a single point of contact for lubrication maintenance questions your team might have. Not only will this help eliminate confusion, but it’ll also be more consistent and much faster.
8. Define Your KPIs and Benchmarks
Think about the different goals you have for your plant and lubrication performance (downtime, component replacement, ect). Now, consider this: if they aren’t specific or written down, how well can you really track them? Are you even tracking them in the first place? By specifically defining your KPI’s and benchmarks, it’s easier to assess how well you’re doing things, and whether or not something needs improvement. From there, you can take oil samples to conduct oil analysis to ensure you maintain those standards and determine the usability of your oil. By knowing exactly what benchmarks you need to meet it’s easier to set your sights and make the proper adjustments.
Need help implementing these tips and making your lubrication program more manageable? U.S. Lubricants offers a variety of products that can help make your lubricant storage safer and more efficient, as well as the services to perform a complete audit of your lubrication plan and processes. We’ve been lubrication experts for more than 60 years, and our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction is unparalleled by other suppliers.
To learn more about how U.S. Lubricants can help simplify your lubrication management, please contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.