If equipment uptime is important to your manufacturing operations, then an effective lubrication program should be as well. Improper lubrication practices can be one of the largest contributors to equipment failure in a facility, says Jeff Shiver, a managing principal of maintenance consulting firm People and Processes Inc.
Shiver, whose background includes maintenance management at Mars' Waco, Texas, confectionary plant, offers these suggestions to improve your lubrication program:
1.Get a lubrication assessment from a reputable supplier. "Many vendors will perform an assessment for free as an opportunity to introduce you to their products or simply keep your existing business," he says. "Focus on your storage and handling, lubricant selection and standardization, sampling techniques, procedures and practices, and contamination control for starters."
2. Become educated. Shiver advises formal training and certification for the lubrication program champion, adding that multiple vendors offer detailed training on machinery lubrication. "Once schooled, have your lubrication technician[s] validate their knowledge by becoming certified through one of several machinery lubrication certification programs." The goal, he says, "is to get one or two people educated and certified to develop/lead the program based on the industry-recognized best practices and train others, like the operators, using the education and certification process much like a 'train-the-trainer' approach."
3. Invest in the appropriate lubricant storage and handling containers.
4. Review your lubrication practices, and update preventive maintenance procedures as necessary. Shiver recommends establishing lubrication routes to "maximize technician effectiveness." In addition, he says, "Utilize techniques such as reliability centered maintenance concepts to ensure PM tasks are value added and address the actual equipment failure modes."
5. Integrate condition-based-monitoring approaches. Oil analysis and filtration carts, for example, can extend the periods before oil changes are required, Shiver says.
6. Develop metrics for your lubrication program, with an eye toward continuous improvement.