Processing Magazine

Maximize Plant Efficiency Through Lubrication Knowledge

May 12, 2008
A frequently cited study from M.I.T. estimates that approximately $240 billion -- six to seven percent of the United States’ gross national product -- is lost due to downtime, repairs and damaged equipment caused by poor lubrication. Around the country, plant managers are looking to proper lubrication practices to help minimize these losses.

“Proper lubrication is essential to a smoothly-running operation,” says Phil Grellier, Dow Corning Global Solutions Development Manager. “In many cases, less friction equals improved performance, greater reliability and lower costs.”

For improved performance, plant managers need only follow these simple steps:

1) Stay informed

Lubrication products and techniques are constantly changing, which means you need to stay informed. Knowledge about your lubrication system is one of the most important ways a plant manager and staff can prevent costly downtime and repairs.

Many suppliers offer basic courses that cover the fundamentals of friction, lubricant selection, storage, handling and dispensing as well as advanced courses that teach oil analysis, contamination monitoring and control, wear debris monitoring and analysis. Some are designed for mechanics, operators or others who have hands-on responsibility for lubrication; others provide a best practices overview for managers and supervisors who don’t require technical expertise but need enough information to plan, organize, staff, and support those who do.

2) Implement an Oil Analysis Program

A thorough oil analysis program can track critical wear-related characteristics of oil in service by comparing the results with previous reports and noting the trends. This will help identify contamination, lubricant degradation, abnormal machine wear, and problems with sampling. It also can transform a lubrication program from time-based to condition-based, eliminating unnecessary changes.

3) Find a Qualified Lubricant Specialist

A good lubricant supplier should provide the training and tools needed to properly maintain your production line, in addition to a comprehensive product line that fills all your lubrication needs. Plant managers should expect a comprehensive suite of services from their supplier to facilitate their lubrication management. If your supplier does not offer seminars in machinery lubrication or an effective oil analysis program, find one that does.

“With a working knowledge of the basics of machinery lubrication and careful attention to the applications and conditions of their lubricants, plant managers can be well-equipped to prevent costly damage caused by poor lubrication,” said Grellier.