There’s no area in business where the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is more applicable than in lubrication. Simple lubrication steps can spell major savings in the costs of repair, maintenance, downtime, and low productivity of your operations. But because lubrication is viewed as an easy task, it is often the least prioritized maintenance activity. As a result, lubrication is seldom done properly and adequately. And if proper lubrication is not on your priority list, it is likely that proper lubrication storage is also not on your agenda.
If this is the case, then you’re in the right place to learn how crucial lubricant and oil storage is as a part of your lubrication management. In fact, the proper storage of lubricants is as critical as choosing suitable lubricants and using them properly.
Why is Lubrication Storage so Important?
During storage is where you begin minimizing deterioration by controlling conditions such as exposure to light, heat, moisture, and contamination from dust, dirt, and other particles. Thus, proper storage and handling can significantly extend lubricant life, optimize its performance, and reduce contamination problems.
Benefits of Proper Lubrication Storage
- Longer lasting lubricants
- Fewer lubricant purchases and less cost
- Less frequent introduction of new lubricants and other chemicals to the workplace
- Minimized risk to employee health and safety
- Reduced environmental impact from used oil waste, spillage, etc.
- Less energy consumption and carbon footprint
- More reliable and longer-lasting machines and equipment
Best Practices for Lubrication Storage
In consideration of these benefits, below are some simple strategies for maintaining your lubrication storage according to best practices.
Maintain Proper Storage Space
Oils and lubricants need ample storage space to protect them from the elements which promote lubricant contamination and degradation. Facilities should provide a dedicated indoor storage space that is dry and has a consistent moderate temperature.
For facilities with no available indoor storage, outdoor lubrication storage is possible with proper care. When stored outdoors, lubricants should have the necessary protection from rain, snow, direct sunlight, extreme heat, etc.
Extreme temperature variations, exposure to moisture and solid particles, and other external factors can contaminate and decrease the quality of your lubricant. You must make every effort to cover and safeguard your materials to reduce the risks of such contamination and decrease in quality.
Also, prolonged storage can be a factor in lubricant quality. Providing a proper lubricant storage space will only delay deterioration, not prevent it. In other words, lubricants will deteriorate if they are stored too long, even in the best conditions. When storing lubricants, you must keep track of expiration or best-before dates, practice the first-in-first-out (FIFO) policy, and avoid over-purchasing.
Identify and Tag All Lubrication Tools and Products
The tagging and accurate identification of your lubricants is a fundamental step of lubrication storage. When your lubricants and tools are tagged with their proper names and details, you avoid potential issues and accidents. Many lubricants look similar, making it easy for busy technicians to mistake one for another. Tagging lubricants with the essential details also communicates any potential hazards for the personnel who will use these chemicals.
Appropriate tagging also facilitates the accurate inventory of lubricants. When you can easily identify the lubricants you have available, you can monitor and manage your inventory faster. This means that you can order lubricants in low stock faster or postpone ordering lubricants to prevent overstocking.
Finally, tagging and proper identification promote accurate turnover between different personnel. If one person is absent, unavailable, or replaced from their position, other employees can execute their tasks accurately and with minimal delay. Making complete, readable, and easily accessible records of materials ensures correct information transfer, clears confusion, and prevents lubricant misuse.
Related to tagging and identification, you can further organize various oils, lubricants, and other substances using a color-coding system. Assigning colors related to lubricant use and purposes is simple, practical, and economical.
With a color-coding system, you don’t need to be an expert to distinguish your lubricants. For example, you can assign a red color for materials and compounds that may be hazardous and demand careful handling. You need to note, however, that some people are colorblind and that colors might fade or degrade over time. These problems can be resolved by regularly refreshing colors or using other distinguishing marks.
Control Contamination Sources
Aside from providing the appropriate storage space for your lubricants, you must also perform the necessary steps to keep contamination away from your storage area.
One critical step of contamination control during lubrication storage is to control foot traffic. The more people are going in and out of your storage area, the higher the risk of contamination exposure. You can prevent this by limiting access to one or two personnel to your lubrication storage.
Controlling storage activities is another way to limit contamination sources. Ensure that anyone who can access your storage facilities keeps the area clean and is careful in handling the materials inside. Many facilities do this by making their lubrication storage a restricted area requiring a code or key card to enter, which is only given to properly trained personnel.
Cleaning and maintenance are also critical. Dust particles, cracks on ceilings, walls, or windows, poor ventilation, etc. are all critical contamination sources. Schedule cleaning and maintenance in your lubricant storage regularly to eliminate or at least minimize risks from these sources.
Lubrication Storage Inspection and Monitoring
When it comes to lubrication, proper storage is as critical as choosing lubricants or monitoring lubrication performance. We recommend you include storage conditions as a part of your monitoring and inspection routes. This may make your lubrication maintenance checks more tedious and time-consuming, but doing so will be beneficial in the long run.If you need help in accomplishing your lubrication inspection and monitoring, you can count on Redlist’s Lubrication Management Software. Redlist ensures that your technicians execute accurate inspections and provides real-time reporting and alerts. With Redlist’s cloud-based data and computerized analysis, you can have access to valuable lubrication information instantly. From this information, you can perform the necessary adjustments to improve your lubrication results. To learn more about how Redlist can support your lubrication storage and management, schedule a free demo with us today!