Join our upcoming webinar on “Ensuring Lubricant Quality Through Effective Storage and Handling” to learn about the importance of maintaining lubricant quality in industrial operations. Our expert speaker will discuss how improper storage and handling can lead to contamination, degradation, and ultimately equipment failure. You will also gain insights into best practices for storing, dispensing, and filtering lubricants to ensure their quality is maintained throughout their lifecycle. Whether you are a maintenance manager, reliability engineer, or operator looking to improve your knowledge of lubrication best practices, this webinar is for you. Register now to secure your spot!
- Do you believe new oil is “clean”?
- What does a contamination control program consist of?
- How to utilize storage and handling initiatives correctly
- Define your operational efficiency goals
- Cross-contamination avoidance myths
- How can you achieve the highest efficiency of your reliability goals?
There are countless ways to deal with lubricants in industrial environments, which means there are just as many ways to negatively impact your lubricant quality through your lubricant storage and handling practices. With the introduction of technology, there are even more options today to help you keep your lubricant in the best condition possible.
It Starts with Storage
When we talk about ensuring the quality of the lubricants, we have to start at the very beginning. A good contamination program has to start at the very beginning. While proper lubricant storage and handling matters at every step from how you use it and how you take it out to whether you filter it, the reality is that’s not the very beginning. It starts from the moment oil is delivered to your plant and how you store it. If you don’t store lubricant properly, then you’re kind of defeating the whole purpose of a good contamination program.
Drum Tip Method
If you have an excellent lube room, that is great. But, there are still many facilities that store drums, kegs, and buckets outdoors. So, if that is truly what you’re doing, you can still use some simple methods to preserve your lubricant quality.
Lubricant drums that are sitting on level ground can have water and condensation collect on top, resulting in a high likelihood of water contamination. The simple fix is to place a piece of wood like a 4×4 on the ground and set your oil drums up on the edge of the wood. This allows the drum to sit in a slightly tipped position, encouraging any water to drain off.
Implementing Proper Filtration
You can spend $5,000 or $55,000 on a state-of-the-art lube room with really nice tanks and setups. But, if your lubricant is not handled correctly coming in, you won’t be any closer to your ultimate goal. So, your lube room investment has to include the correct filtration for your needs. For example, new oil isn’t actually clean. It’s vital to filter new lubricants before you use them to ensure the highest lubricant quality for your assets.
Managing Lubricant Inventory
A crucial best practice for lubrication teams is to inventory and consolidate their lubricants every few years. Between employee turnover and the addition of new assets, it’s easy to suddenly find yourself with a collection of many different lubricants when you could be operating with a simpler selection of products. Lubrication management software from Redlist can help you maintain your consolidated list and effectively track which lubricants are suitable for each of your assets.
Benefits of Lubricant Consolidation
- Lower the cost of inventory.
- Reduce administration and paperwork.
- Easier organization, tagging, and asset management reduce lubrication mistakes.
- Less concern about lubricants not being compatible with one another because you have a smaller selection.
- When combined with technology like Redlist, it is easier to align lubricant product choices with the facility’s goals.
How Clean Should Your Oil Be?
If you keep your cholesterol in check, eat the right things, and get the right amount of exercise, you’re going to stay healthy. Machines are really no different. The oil has to be healthy and clean, or free of contamination and moisture. A major part of that is oil analysis, which means your goals should be set in terms of particle counts.
Understanding Particle Counts
In oil analysis, you can often see the ISO particle count in numbers. You’ll either have three numbers or two numbers (depending on different European standards). The simplest way to understand it is that the higher the numbers, the dirtier the oil is.
How Clean is New Oil?
New oil isn’t bad, but it may be delivered to you above the particle level target for your asset. If you filter new oil, you can actually increase the life of your assets. This is because you’re starting with oil that is cleaner than even when it was delivered to you. Then, you can successfully hit those particle count goals for each of your machines. But, it’s not just about hitting particle count goals. Maintaining a high level of oil cleanliness can help improve the bottom line.
For example, let’s say you filtered new oil into the bulk tanks at your plant. So it already has a high level of cleanliness, and you’re utilizing good technique and transferring it into topping off a hydraulic system that has a 500 or 600-gallon tank. That’s a very costly oil change if you put dirty oil in the system.
Another example is turbines. A 2,000-gallon turbine reservoir is a $25,000 to $28,000 oil change. Often, plants are dumping that oil and doing a complete change when they could actually apply some proper filtration and save it. This results not only in financial savings but also in labor savings by freeing technicians to do other work.
Perform a Plant Audit of Lubricant Storage and Handling
Whether you bring in a reliability partner like MDI or perform an audit of your own, this is a great step to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Some of the questions to ask include:
- Walk through and look at everything lubrication-related from how you’re handling it to where it’s being stored.
- What kind of asset management are you utilizing?
- Are your assets tagged?
- Are the critical assets getting the most attention?
- Is there anything we are overlooking (down to breathers and grease zerks)?
- Look for the areas of potential contamination.
- On down to as simple as, are we really utilizing the right lubricants?
- Are we doing the right things that are truly the very best type of lubricant for each asset?
Then, outline a path to get from where you are to where you need to be. Often that path includes starting with training opportunities and then stepping into whether we need to adapt pieces of equipment to be able to reduce contamination and increase efficiency through a good oil analysis program. Then, it will just stem from there.
Find Partners and Put Your Resources to Work
Many facilities know where they need to be but don’t know how to get there. That’s where partners such as your lubricant supplier, Redlist, and other solutions come into the picture. You can work with a vendor like MDI to optimize your lubricant inventory to support your efficiency goals or utilize a partner like Redlist to organize your lubrication and automate admin processes to save technicians time.