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Benchmarking your lubrication performance for improved reliability
Benchmarking is the practice of establishing goals and targets for process performance levels and identifying required improvement areas based on the published or known best practice or industry-specific preferred practice. In simple terms, benchmarking is a continuous improvement tool that, in the case of lubrication, allows youto rate your company’s practices against those of the front-runners in the industry or those that are considered “world class”.
When benchmarking in the area of lubrication, there are potentially 12 key areas of discussion. They include:
1) Contamination control: Contamination control plays a vital role in the overall reliability and life of any lubricated component. Control of contamination –that is to say excluding its ingression, the ability to remove it and a method to monitor it – is a holistic endeavor that begins with lubricant supplier contracts and continues to the point at which the lubricants are removed from service.
2) Oil analysis: Often, oil analysis is viewed as a go/no-go oil change indicator. However, oil analysis can be a useful predictive tool for lubricant andmachine failure. Using oil analysis to its potential will not only give you an indication of when a lubricant needs to be changed, but it can provide early warning of the contaminants (and other information) that will reduce the life of a lubricant and a machine.
3) Oil sampling: Sampling goes hand-in-hand with oil analysis. A poor oil sample will give you poor data. As the saying goes, garbage in,garbage out. Specific methods and procedures for oil sampling need to be utilized to ensure consistent and accurate samples.
4) Lubrication practices: The way we lubricate and relubricate our machines and components can affect their overall reliability. It is critical that we confirm the right oil is applied at the right time to the right component in the right quantity.
5) Procedures:Procedures ensure consistency and continuity in everything we do in lubrication. It is vital to understand the difference between a full procedure and a task instruction. Procedures require enough detail for the lubrication technician to perform the task accurately. Details such as what lubricant and what quantity are required at a minimum.
6) Standards and consolidation: It is important that standardsare applied to lubricants within the plant. Standards for cleanliness, dryness and procurement are common. Consolidation is a hot topic in many facilities that consume large volumes of lubricants. It is important to understand the risks associated with consolidation. In many cases of consolidation, concessions need to be made to apply one lubricant across different components in differentenvironments. The risk of compromise may outweigh the benefit of consolidation. Optimization is a more strategic approach that factors the context of operation of specific machines into lubricant product decisions.
7) Storage and handling: Your lubricant storage area is the nerve center for lubrication. Poor practices here will resonate through all other areas of lubrication. Strategic improvements in theway you store and handle lubricants will provide a solid foundation for improvements in all other areas.
8) Safety and leak management: Safety is a priority in all areas of maintenance, and lubrication is no different. Ensuring that those involved in the handling of lubricants are fully aware of the risks and how to mitigate those risks is essential. Leak management goes hand-in-hand with safety.Proactively managing leaks will not only promote a safer working environment but will help improve overall equipment reliability.
9) Training and certification: Lubrication is a skill-based occupation which requires significant training. Lubrication technicians today are well-educated, skilled employees that hold the responsibility of ensuring our critical assets are lubricated with precision....
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