right lubricant

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The position of ‘oiler’ or ‘lubricator’ has been all but eliminated in most companies. There has  been a number of responses to this change however one of the most effective is to create a documented and well defined Operation Driven Lubrication program. This presentation provides details and case studies of successful Operator Driven Lubrication  programs (ODR) and how it can fit into a more comprehensive Performance Management Program that breaks down silos and aligns people toward the aim of the organization. The benefits of effective and successful lubricated equipment reliability gains reach wider than equipment availability and the reduction in operating costs in most industrialized plants. These reliability gains can also increase the entire business effectiveness by improving risk-safety, environmental integrity, energy efficiency, product quality, and customer service to mention a few. To receive these benefits from your lubrication program, we must ensure that we are using the correct equipment specific healthy lubricants that are aimed at both the equipment and lubricant life extension goals. For many organizations ,either from a maintenance or production point of view, it is neither understood nor ignored that the lubrication type, quality and additives are an essential design  principle of the equipment. Today in competitive markets, the demand for increased equipment and plant availability and modern machines operating at higher speeds, under heavier loads and with closer mechanical tolerances the stress on the lubricants to perform is increasing. While the lubricant manufacturers provide quality products, the onus of executing all of the commonly referred to “Five R’s of Lubrication” (the right product, in the right location, in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right condition) remains obscure within many industrial facilities. Implementing an ODR program does not eliminate this mystery unless the  program integrates Production/Operations, Engineering, Maintenance, Procurement, Health and Safety, and Environmental departments into one cohesive goal of improving the plant’s equipment reliability and performance. Despite the efforts in awareness, many plants still ignore, disbelieve or just struggle with understanding the “five R’s”. The Right Product The first and most important step in receiving any potential benefits from your lubrication  program is selecting and using the correct equipment specific lubricants. These must be aimed at extending the life of both the equipment and the lubricant. Many organizations feel the task of selecting the correct lubricant ends at the content or directions outlined in the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) manual or general recommendations from a lubricant supplier. This information is only the starting point and should be combined with present operating conditions, the operating environment, equipment criticality, historical information, reliability requirements, and the chosen maintenance strategies (CM, PM, PdM, PaM). The task of selecting the correct lubricant can be very complex and should remain within the reliability-engineering department or by an individual with strong training in lubrication theory,

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Page 1: Right Lubricant

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The position of ‘oiler’ or ‘lubricator’ has been all but eliminated in most companies. There has

 been a number of responses to this change however one of the most effective is to create a

documented and well defined Operation Driven Lubrication program.

This presentation provides details and case studies of successful Operator Driven Lubrication

 programs (ODR) and how it can fit into a more comprehensive Performance ManagementProgram that breaks down silos and aligns people toward the aim of the organization.

The benefits of effective and successful lubricated equipment reliability gains reach wider thanequipment availability and the reduction in operating costs in most industrialized plants. These

reliability gains can also increase the entire business effectiveness by improving risk-safety,

environmental integrity, energy efficiency, product quality, and customer service to mention a

few. To receive these benefits from your lubrication program, we must ensure that we are usingthe correct equipment specific healthy lubricants that are aimed at both the equipment and

lubricant life extension goals.

For many organizations ,either from a maintenance or production point of view, it is neither understood nor ignored that the lubrication type, quality and additives are an essential design

 principle of the equipment. Today in competitive markets, the demand for increased equipment

and plant availability and modern machines operating at higher speeds, under heavier loads and

with closer mechanical tolerances the stress on the lubricants to perform is increasing.

While the lubricant manufacturers provide quality products, the onus of executing all of the

commonly referred to “Five R’s of Lubrication” (the right product, in the right location, in the

right amount, at the right time, and in the right condition) remains obscure within many

industrial facilities. Implementing an ODR program does not eliminate this mystery unless the program integrates Production/Operations, Engineering, Maintenance, Procurement, Health and

Safety, and Environmental departments into one cohesive goal of improving the plant’sequipment reliability and performance.

Despite the efforts in awareness, many plants still ignore, disbelieve or just struggle with

understanding the “five R’s”.

The Right Product

The first and most important step in receiving any potential benefits from your lubrication

 program is selecting and using the correct equipment specific lubricants. These must be aimed atextending the life of both the equipment and the lubricant. Many organizations feel the task of 

selecting the correct lubricant ends at the content or directions outlined in the OriginalEquipment Manufacturers (OEM) manual or general recommendations from a lubricant supplier.This information is only the starting point and should be combined with present operating

conditions, the operating environment, equipment criticality, historical information, reliability

requirements, and the chosen maintenance strategies (CM, PM, PdM, PaM).

The task of selecting the correct lubricant can be very complex and should remain within thereliability-engineering department or by an individual with strong training in lubrication theory,

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applications, and lubrication analysis. Once the correct lubricant is determined, Purchasing must

 be involved to ensure the

 product purchased meets the lubricant specific specifications. An overview of the requirements iscontained within the August/September 2009 issue of Uptime Magazine ‘Effective Guidelines

for Implementing a Well-Engineered Lubrication Program’.

 

The Right Location

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Every single lubrication point on every piece of equipment that will be lubricated must be

identified and marked on either the equipment itself or within the Standard Operating

Procedure/Work Task Outline. By referring to OEM manual guidelines , these tasks can be performed by a cross functional team within the maintenance and operations departments. The

team can then survey the equipment to identify the lubrication points, photograph and tag them

for the development of SOP.

 

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Tagged Equipment 

The Right Amount

While the correct level of oil appears to be straight forward on a piece of equipment with a sightglass, dipstick or liquid level gauge, these items need to be marked on the equipment to ensure

accuracy. High and low levels need to be marked similar to the marking of a dipstick in your 

 personal vehicle, since ¼ of an inch too low or too high can have serious effects on the performance of the lubricant.

Grease applications remain a bit more of a challenge. Component design, operating and

environmental conditions need to be considered, then a method must be utilized to ensure

delivery of the correct amount of grease to the components.

The function of marking the correct levels and calculating the correct amount of grease should be performed by a cross-functional team within the Reliability Engineering and Maintenance

departments.

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 Accurately Marked Level Gauges

The Right Time

Many dynamic factors influence the timing for change-out, replacement or top-up of lubricants.Actual operating and environmental conditions must be taken into consideration along with

OEM recommendations. Changing a lubricant too early results in a waste of lubricants, wasted

labour, and increased disposal costs. Changing a lubricant too late can result in early wear,

decreased component life, decreased reliability and catastrophic equipment failure.

The optimum approach to oil and some grease applications is to engage in a Predictive

Maintenance Program (PdM) and perform condition based testing. This testing should be

designed to provide the correct information needed in order for the required activities to be performed at optimum timing. However, most grease applications cannot utilize effective

sampling and the re-lubrication activities will have to be determined by the lubricant’s initial

 properties, the equipment design, and its actual operating and environmental conditions.

The function of determining the lubricant re-lubrication timing or the set-up of a condition basedsampling and testing program should be performed by a cross functional team within the

Reliability Engineering, Maintenance and Environmental departments within the facility.

The Right Condition

Lubricant manufacturers generally provide quality products designed for specific applications.

While it is understood that many of these lubricants do not meet the cleanliness requirements of some plant equipment, what we do after receipt of the lubricant prior to the installation into our 

equipment can have a severe affect to the physical and chemical properties. How we store,

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handle and dispense these lubricants can in many cases, degrade them to the point where they are

in worse condition than the lubricants they will be replacing.

Equipment reliability requires that the selected lubricant meets and maintains specific physical,chemical and cleanliness requirements. A detailed trail of a lubricant is required which begins

with the OEM (lubricant supplier) and ends after disposal. Sampling and testing of the lubricantsis required to validate the condition of the lubricant through all these phases.

Storage starts with correct labeling (including MSDS) clearly installed to ensure proper use of the enclosed contents. Throughout the storage and dispensing phases, proper stock rotation and

storage methods must be used to prevent the degradation of the physical and chemical properties

as well as the cleanliness of the lubricant.

Handling and dispensing methods must ensure that the health and the cleanliness of the lubricantmeet the specifications required by the equipment. All opportunities of 

contamination must be eliminated. Pre-filtering of all lubricants must be performed to meet the

specific equipment requirements.

The function of determining the right condition should be performed by a cross functional teamwithin the Reliability Engineering, Maintenance, Operations, Purchasing and Environmental

departments within the facility. With the overview of basic understanding of a Lubrication

Management Program it is imperative that all Senior Plant Managers in Production/Operations,Engineering, Maintenance, Procurement, Health and Safety, and Environmental departments

form a cohesive group to focus on developing a highly detailed vision to provide the basic

foundation, philosophy and commitment required to implement a small but critical portion of 

reliability prior to implementing a ODR lubrication program.

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When focusing on the vision of implementing an ODR lubrication program you must assess your strengths and weaknesses of the present system and the changes required to support the new

 program. The following areas need to be reviewed:

• Business Characteristics

• Present Maintenance Strategy• Present and Future Organizational Arrangements and Human Resources

• Planning, Scheduling, Work Management

• Preventive and PdM Philosophy• Equipment records and histories

• Purchasing, storage and parts inventory

• Key Performance Indicators

Increasing reliability through Lubrication Management executed through an ODR program will

now require a continuous integrated cohesive team between maintenance, engineering and production. They will manage information and data, human resources, fixed assets, cost control,

equipment performance, etc. This team is not on a temporary assignment but a paradigm shift onhow we will start to manage our assets in the future. Aligning all employees by removing the

 barriers and silos of the past company structure and then focusing on a comprehensive

Performance Management Program will move the program forward.

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An effective ODR program should begin by ensuring that all lubricant related activities within a

 plant fit into and become a part of the work process. It cannot stand on its own as a separate or 

extra task, but must be fully integrated and be part of the work culture. These activities should bescrutinized by a RCM plan or FEMECA process to ensure accuracy and relevance. Recording of 

all performed activities involving lubricant consumption, lubricant replacement and/or lubricant

top-ups need to be stored in a location that can be used by anyone within the facility. This meansthat all lubricant related activities and products required must be controlled by the work 

management system (Enterprise Management System, CMMS, etc), which is not common in

most facilities. It remains a bit of a mystery that operations have been allowed to remain outsideof a controlled work management system as most of their tasks are relevant to the cost,

 productivity, reliability, safety, licensing, etc.. of the plant.

A basic example in many plants is that operation’s is typically responsible for only emergency

lubrication of equipment. In many examined cases, the shift operators typically had poor accessto information of required equipment to lubricant use or the information was gained through

tribal knowledge and ultimately transferred to memory. If maintenance was not made aware of 

this emergency lubrication (extremely low oil levels) and an incorrect lubricant was used, itcould result in decreased equipment life, decreased reliability or even eventual equipment failure.

Historically, operational personnel typically use operator round templates or Standard Operating

Procedures (SOP’s) for instruction, limits, target, etc. Lubricant information, instructions and

activities should be included within those documents. While this could be a large undertaking inmany facilities it remains a must along with ensuring that all of the lubricant related activities are

 being controlled by the work management system. From the issuing of work orders for operator 

rounds to the closing of the work orders by the operators instills accountability; accountability in

understanding the work required, the methods to use, the tools required, the required data andfeedback of observations. Feedback and planned actions are critical in putting the operator in the

 position of caring about the conditions, causes and affects and not just the process. This is bestcontrolled within a work management system. In too many cases of an operator reporting a problem with either no action or communication by maintenance or engineering results in a loss

of respect for the program.

The use of handheld data collection technology is a huge benefit in this area when set up

correctly. Recording of all lubricant related operator instructions, tasks and collected data become more efficient and can be easily be shared within the organization. The problem with

most handheld collection programs is in the software set-up process.

Companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in this technology just to let the units

 become nothing more than paperweights in the control room! Again, this is an area that requiresa cross functional integral team within the facility; one that understands the facility, the work 

required and the data collection requirements to increase equipment availability and reliability

outlined in a Performance and Asset Management Program.

The 6th “R” - The Right Person

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Operators do not just operate a plant, they first have to learn how to operate the plant through

training, mentoring, testing, etc. and Lubrication Management must be part of the training

 process prior to and continuously throughout the ODR program. Education and training cannotstop with the operators. Additional education and training is required for the management staff in

order for them to understand the program, the required changes, and how the staff fits in. Active

visual participation, not dominance, from all departments involved and all levels of managementremains a key to the importance and success of the program. If management staff is detached

from the training then the question of importance will arise.

Detailed SOP’s containing the lubricant requirements (levels, type, methods, etc.) as well as the

alarms and targets that are relevant to the lubricants health must not only be contained within thedocument but must be understood by the operator. An example would be an accumulation of dust

on a fan that causes increased imbalance which increases load on the bearing which eventually

overheats the oil resulting in a reduction of oil film thickness. The end result is bearing failure.Most operators should understand this by their training and experience but the information and

tools must be made available to them. For example, provide a pyrometer for their rounds with

equipment specific temperature readings with upper and lower limit (viscosity limits) conditions.

An individual or group of individuals (depending on the size of the plant) will be required to co-ordinate the development, implementation, integration and communication of this ODR program

in order for it to be successful. The combined skill set will require:

• A working knowledge of the plant’s corrective maintenance (CM), preventive maintenance

(PM), predictive maintenance (PdM), and proactive maintenance (Root Cause Analysis) processes.

• An understanding of the structure and operation of the work management system.

• Strong training in lubrication theory, applications, and lubrication analysis

• The ability to communicate with others responsible for the plants equipment reliability

• Coordinate lubrication tasks with reliability goals

• Single point of contact for all lubrication requirements (procurement, inventorycontrol, storage and handling, etc)

• Responsibility of lubricant selection

• Single point of contact for all lubrication requirements (procurement, inventory control, storage

and handling, etc)

• Review and assess Operator Log (s) for lubrication related issues

• Review and assess PM and PdM requirements to reduce unnecessary tasks

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• Review and assess operator executed lubricant related tasks

• Prepare monthly condition assessment reports (Oil Analysis)

• Track metrics and cost benefits

• Co-ordinate with corporate peers for the latest initiatives, plant and industry experiences

When senior management truly understands the commitment and support required to implementan ODR Lubrication Program, a company policy or procedure should be created. This procedure

should outline the programs objectivities, and the organizational requirements and

responsibilities. The development of these documents is critical to the success of a program as itinstitutionalizes the program and the process while providing staying power should there be a

change in management.

It is said that change should be driven from the top down to be successful. The day of consultants

walking through the door and evaluating and providing the path forward without the entirecompany’s willingness to change is a short-sited misuse of valuable resources. With the present

global recession, competitive markets, mergers and/or looming plant foreclosures it is time for 

change.

Time to break new ground and transform your equipment reliability program into producingsignificant benefits in machinery operation, plant reliability and availability, and most

importantly ... improve the bottom line (profits).

A well structured engineered ODR program forces the amalgamation of Production/Operations,

Engineering, Maintenance, Procurement, Health and Safety, and Environmental departments

towards one unified goal ; improving the plant’s equipment reliability and performance.Ultimately, plant uptime and overall cost reduction will be the only fall out.

 By Kevan Slater, Independent Reliability and Lubrication Specialist