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Intelligent Lubrication Solutions™

Intelligent Lubrication Solutions™


The Costs and Challenges of an Unrefined Lubrication Program

Posted by Matt Mohelnitzky on Sep 1, 2015 4:20:39 PM

lubrication_cost_savingsIf you’ve been following our blog lately, you know that we’ve been discussing the benefits of optimizing your plant’s lubrication program. We’ve told you how custom-blended lubricants, coolant management tools, and preventative maintenance procedures can help extend the life of your machinery, increase efficiency, and save money, but this blog series is a little different. This time, we have the numbers to prove the value of these optimized programs, and we’ve partnered with a company with the experience and know-how to help you do it right. In this Part 1 of our 3-part Lubrication Cost-Saving Series, we’ll explain our new partnership, and dig into the costs and challenges of having an unrefined lubricant management program.

U.S. Lubricants has created a joint venture with Precision Lubrication Services, Inc. to provide companies with a complete lubrication program. PLSI are experts when it comes to implementing and managing high-quality machine lubrication programs, providing trained personnel on-site to help design and maintain a custom lubrication program that perfectly meets your plant’s unique requirements. By combining their services with ours, together we can help companies identify their specific lubrication problems, formulate the ideal solution, and launch and maintain a lubrication program that’s proven to save money over time. And while you might not see lubrication’s full potential as a valuable cost-savings opportunity yet, the added costs of under-developed practices will surely reveal themselves through unnecessary machine parts consumption, elevated overtime, and lost productivity. 

The Machine Lubrication Puzzle

Determining the ideal lubricant management program is a lot like solving a Rubik’s Cube. There are many different elements that need to be taken into consideration when developing your ideal program, and if even just one of those elements is wrong, the entire program can be compromised. Companies can spend a lot of time spinning their wheels (or bricks in this case) trying to figure out exactly how things should be, only to never get it right at all. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing from the start, you’re really just digging yourself a deeper hole for later on, and in order to solve the puzzle quickly and efficiently, you need to know the secrets of making every element work together. That being said, the biggest difference between solving a Rubik’s Cube and creating a custom lubricant program is that only one of those things can potentially save your company thousands of dollars – and we all know it’s not the puzzle. 

Looking at the typical maintenance budget divisions below, you’ll see that lubricants typically only account for about 1% of the plant’s total operating costs.


Bickley, PE, J. (2014, October 1). Proper Lubrication Practices Improve Plant Operations. Retrieved August 15, 2015.

Despite being just a small sliver of your overall expenses, however, using the wrong lubrication products, techniques, or applications can have a much larger impact on your overall maintenance costs. In fact, 43% of all equipment failures can be directly attributed to the incorrect choice and usage of lubricants, and a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) estimated that approximately $240 billion is lost annually across all U.S. industries due to downtime and repairs to manufacturing equipment caused by improper lubrication. 

PLSI has a systematic approach to creating and implementing custom precision lubrication programs that are tailored to the client’s needs. Their experienced personnel provide the management and execution of your precision lubrication program for the duration of your multi-year contract. They do this by becoming “Your Plant’s Lubrication Team.” 

Here’s how it works with their “6 Steps to Reliability Centered Lubrication (RCL)”:

  1. Develop the business case: Does RCL make economic sense for your company?  The business case is based on:
    • Plant audit
    • Collection of replacement and overhead costs related to lubricated components
    • 5-year Net Present Value (NPV) calculation of the ROI year-by-year
    • Recommendations on lubrication-based “go forward proposal”
  2. Assess the relative criticality of each machine and the current lubrication processes and practices in place to develop:
    • Lubrication SOPs
    • Routes and practices with detailed plans
    • KPIs to achieve program goals
  3. Conduct a reliability-centric lubricants requirements assessment based on: 
    • Product type, grade, volume, frequency
    • Operating environment severity
    • Component contamination sensitivity
    • Oil analysis requirements and alarm settings set by machine priority 
  4. Work with IT to determine how information will be managed, collected, and utilized
  5. Implement the custom program using PLSI’s tools, workflow management, and documentation
  6. Conduct scheduled management meetings with the customer to discuss:
    • Tracking of KPIs
    • Progress
    • Support needed from the customer 
    • Areas for improvement 
    • Recommendations to adjust the plan to stay on course 
    • Updates to the plan as needed to meet new business challenges

By developing a proper lubricant management program, companies can significantly reduce their chances of suffering catastrophic, or even just regular, machine breakdowns – which significantly reduces their maintenance costs and also slows the rate of depreciation. Though it might only be a small portion of your budget, you can’t afford to overlook lubrication’s importance, and U.S. Lubricants and Precision Lubrication Services are here to make sure you have the perfect plan for your plant. From the problem-solving and implementation phase all the way through long-term plan management, we’re here to make sure every element of your plan is perfect – saving you money and increasing productivity.

Want to learn more about we can help you launch and manage a lubrication program for your plant? Contact Tony Springer at TSpringer@uslube.com or by phone at (800) 490-4900 ext. 8823.  

Also be sure to check out Part II and Part III of this series for more information about the cost savings of a well-defined lubrication management program.

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Topics: Lubrication Management Program