Overcome Lubricant Shortages and High Costs by Extending the Useful Life of What You Have
We are all aware of the events of the last couple of years. The pandemic, the “great resignation”, trucker shortage, and the overall reduced workforce has affected just about every industry imaginable. One of those industries includes the lubricant world. Most of the supply chain issues directly affecting the oil and lubricant industry are because of limited additives and base oils. There isn’t as much stock available, causing shortages for lubricant products, especially the ones with additives. This also means longer lead times to get what you need, and of course, you’re going to pay more for it. We need to do everything we can to make the lubricants we do have last longer. Maintaining quality conditions for our stored oils, making sure our oil is clean, and preserving the quality of the oil in use are three things we need to do to stretch the useful life of your lubricants. Your equipment will benefit as well.
Once you’ve paid your premium price and waited for your new lubricants to arrive, it’s time to set-up your strategy to make sure your oil is received and stored in a way you can maintain its quality condition. Incoming inspection begins the chain of custody of your oil. Inspection includes certificate of conformance from the supplier acknowledging the purchased product meets the necessary standards of the specification. Confirmation of this should be obtained by extracting an oil sample from the container and performing oil analysis of its makeup and condition. Labeling and Date Stamping of the incoming container is also required. The container can then be transferred to a clean, climate controlled, storage area.
Quality storage areas or lube rooms are critical to the success of quality lubricant condition. Without adequate storage of lubricants, a quality Lube/Reliability program is doomed for failure. Routine practices can compromise oil condition more in the storage/transfer stage than at any other stage of the lubricant useful life. Regardless of the storage containers you use, periodic oil samples are required to assure lubricant integrity is maintained. Baseline oil samples done at incoming inspection provide a point of reference to compare against to see just how well your lubricant is surviving and if it’s not, take measures to improve. All types of storage containers should be equipped with desiccant breathers to control particulate and water contamination.
Another important aspect of your lube room storage area is having the ability to filter your oil. Based on the oil samples you’ve taken, you will be able to determine if your storage practices are adequate, and also determine whether corrective action should be taken. Correcting possible sources of contamination and/or kidney loop filtration will go a long way in keeping your lubricant in “ready to use” condition.
A valuable practice used in world class lube rooms is the process of filtering your lubricant when dispensing from the storage containers into clean secondary transfer containers. This process assures that the oil going into those containers is clean and ready for it’s intended application. Transfer containers should be color coded for each of the different lubricants. This is a secondary quality check to make sure the proper oil is being delivered and serves as a safeguard from cross-contamination of oils. Only dispense as much oil as required for use into the secondary transfer containers. This will reduce or eliminate residual oil from remaining in the secondary container. The residual oil will not be protected as well and could become a source of contaminated oil.
Now that you have clean, dry oil in your transfer container, it is now prepared for application. Preserving the integrity of the oil in use is paramount. That requires proper contamination control equipment be installed on your machines. Whether it is desiccant breathers, closed system oilers, gearbox kits, hydraulic tank kits, kidney loop filtration, or quick connect couplers, or any combination of the above, closing up your equipment from the surrounding atmosphere to mitigate water and particulate contamination is vital to preserving and extending the quality and useful life of your lubricant and equipment.
Your lubricant is the life blood of your equipment. Again, periodic sampling of your oil from your machines, sent in for analysis, will provide great insights into the health of your oil and equipment condition. You can use oil analysis results to predict when to schedule maintenance only when required, eliminating unnecessary events and firefighting.
Extend the Useful Life of Your Lubricants
What we’ve just briefly described is a glimpse into what we call The Journey of the Lubricant®. Following the journey of your lubricant will allow you to maintain oil integrity throughout its life in your facility, from incoming inspection to eventual disposal. When the process is followed it will no doubt make your lubricants and equipment last longer, purchasing less, and reduce non-essential tasks for your own limited workforce.
Discover how the The Journey of the Lubricant® can help you achieve your lubrication life extension goals through our self-guide, interactive tool.