7 Tips for Maintenance and Lubrication Planning

No matter what business you’re in, maintaining your assets is essential to keeping things running smoothly. For many businesses, this means regularly scheduled maintenance and lubrication tasks. However, maintenance and lubrication planning can be tricky! If you don’t plan it properly, you may end up with incomplete lube routes and assets missing lubrication altogether. But, if you follow these seven tips, you’ll be well on your way to lubrication management program success.

The Basics of Maintenance and Lubrication Planning

The process of maintenance planning identifies and addresses every possible detail from beginning to end. As part of this, planning requires not only identifying the lubrication activities, but also the tools that are necessary and ensuring they are available in their appropriate places. Additionally, for the best planning, you need to include clear instructions about how to complete the tasks. In addition to maintenance and lubrication, maintenance plans often include tasks such as:

  • Managing reserve parts
  • Purchasing non-stock parts
  • Staging parts
  • Illustrating parts
  • Handling breakdowns and vendor lists
  • Quality assurance (QA)
  • Quality control (QC)
  • Oil analysis program

A maintenance planner’s job is more than simply finding space in the schedule or pairing tasks with the right technician experience. To optimize your maintenance planning, it is vital to define the what, why, and how of each task. This ensures that technicians have everything they need to complete the task and keep your maintenance and lubrication running right on schedule.

Lubrication Planning: Essential to Successful Lubrication Management

Lubrication planning is at the heart of all world-class lubrication management programs. However, even the best-laid plans can go wrong. It does not mean everything will go smoothly just because you have a plan. However, there is still great value in the planning process. The knowledge you gain from planning is vital when it comes to asset reliability and minimizing downtime.

By having a maintenance and lubrication plan, you’ll not only be ready for any incident, but you’ll also ensure quality production standards that will positively impact your bottom line. The ability to produce products at the lowest cost possible can be achieved by having higher productivity standards. Having that kind of efficiency gives you a competitive edge in any industry. Successful maintenance and lubrication programs start with quality lubrication planning.

Lubrication Planning Tips

Designate a Lubrication Planner

Ideally, you can designate a lubrication planner who is separate from the maintenance and lubrication crews. This facilitates specialized lubrication planning techniques and enables them to focus on future work. By removing them and assigning them to a different supervisor, you protect the planning function. Lubrication planners should never serve as lubrication technicians to complete work, regardless of how challenging it may be at times. This ensures that they can focus on future work planning, and the schedule doesn’t fall behind.

Maintain Open Communication

The lead lubrication technician or the supervisor should give the planning team feedback when a task is finished. For example, if a lube tech runs into a problem or finds that the details of the assigned lubrication task aren’t accurate, they should tell the lubrication planner. This is useful information, especially if the task is only allotted an hour but the asset has an issue and the lubrication task takes two hours in reality. If your lubrication planner didn’t have this information, they would continue scheduling only an hour for that task. Then, your lubrication team falls behind and you start building a maintenance backlog. To avoid this, communication and collaboration between your planning and maintenance teams are critical.

Prevent Lubrication Planner Distractions

If your lubrication planner is regularly interrupted by technicians’ problems, then they will be pulled away from planning. Instead, prevent these distractions and ensure that your planner can focus on developing the weekly schedule. Lubrication planners must remain solely focused on future work since it’s easy to get distracted by other tasks. As an example, suppose a planner comes into work on a Monday morning to plan for the weekend’s crew. A few jobs completed last week also need to be filed as work orders. An additional lubrication technician reaches out to them for assistance in finding a spare part for a draft fan. In no time at all, they have lost track of their focus and your lubrication planning suffers.

Set Time Estimates for Work Orders

Your lubrication planner should determine work order time estimates by utilizing their experience and skills, as well as file information. Lubrication technicians should plan their time accordingly to complete the task without any issues. Making a reasonable estimate requires technical, communication, and organizational skills. To implement this principle, you should select the best lubrication technicians, perhaps those with the most seniority, as lubrication planners.

Have a System for Tracking Technician Skill Levels

When determining job plans, lubrication planners need to be aware of and recognize the skills of their lubrication technicians. It is important that the planner determines the scope of the work request and plans the general strategy for the work. This includes addressing the level of difficulty of the task and the necessary skill level. While the lubrication planner will likely become familiar with your technicians’ experience, it is incredibly helpful to have a system for tracking their skill levels. This ensures that only technicians with the right experience are assigned a lubrication task.

Additionally, after completing a task, the lubrication technicians can collaborate with the planner to improve procedures and checklists. Lubrication procedures are often vague and general. Creating detailed procedure descriptions helps you capture valuable knowledge that you can pass on to new hires or lubrication technicians without much training.

Implement KPIs for Lubrication Planning Effectiveness

One of the primary indicators of lubrication planning effectiveness and workforce efficiency is wrench time. This key performance indicator (KPI) measures the time that lubrication technicians are available to work without delays. Delays that often result in a low wrench time include waiting for assignments, parts, and tools, obtaining clearance, travel time, etc. Effective lubrication planning reduces delays during jobs, and efficient scheduling decreases delays between jobs.

Optimize Lubrication Planning with Lubrication Management Software

Lubrication planning is essential for optimal equipment performance. By properly lubricating equipment, you can extend the life of your investment, reduce downtime, and improve safety. However, manual lubrication planning is often error-prone and time-consuming. Lubrication management software provides a much-needed solution. This type of software helps you to plan and schedule lubrication tasks, track inventory, and monitor lubrication performance. It provides a central repository for lubrication-related data. This data can include lubricant types and quantities, lubrication schedules, and lubrication-related equipment information. In addition, lubrication management software can generate alerts when lubricant levels are low or when scheduled lubrication tasks are due. As a result, you can optimize your lubrication planning and improve equipment uptime and reliability.

Lubrication Planning is All About the Details

Creating a maintenance plan allows you to determine which tasks need to be performed and when they need to be performed. By providing detailed procedures and task descriptions, you create consistency in the collection and use of oil samples, in the replenishment of lubricants, in the inspection of bearings for signs of accelerated wear, and in other lubrication activities. An effective lubrication management program requires consistency in all these areas to prevent lubrication-related failures.

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