Why Should Managers Care About Oil?

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation
Tags: industrial lubricants

Managers don’t need to know about oil, that’s why they hire maintenance people. They have far more important things to do with their time, right? We’ve all heard it, oil is oil and if the machine has oil everything is okay.

Managers are supposed to lead and to motivate people to work harder. Managers are money and productivity oriented - this has nothing to do with oil. Don’t you agree? Why should managers care about something so trivial? Oil is a dirty job, not something for the white collar crowd . . . right?

But wait, we all know how hard managers are always trying to reduce costs and payroll. They are always wanting more for less. Perhaps there is a connection to oil after all. Doesn’t oil cost money? The more we use (and waste), the more we pay. Do we really have to use this much oil? Don’t certain lubricants make machines run faster and more reliably? All oil types are really not the same, are they? What if we used better lubricants, cleaner lubricants, and reduced their consumption? If we worked smarter, and treated our lubricants like assets and not consumables, this would save money.

Another thing . . . maybe managers would find it fascinating to know how oil carries a message about the machine’s health, or how responding to this information can reduce wasteful work orders and unscheduled downtime. Some managers might, perhaps, take interest in the fact that for most machines over 80% of the wear and failures could be avoided if they would only provide proper training, tools, and support to their maintenance staff relating to lubrication and oil analysis. This could significantly increase production.

Think of the organizational impact if managers actually made it a focused priority to transform ritual lubrication practices into modern “best practices” programs. What if they actually announced exciting, company-wide goals surrounding such a program. Wouldn’t it be great if they could track the savings and the increased productivity and reward the organization for the success? Imagine the feeling of pride in being a part of a program of such quality and accomplishment!

Seriously, for a great many organizations today, the active role of management in transforming “shade tree” lubrication programs to world class stature has, indeed, been met with extraordinary success. These innovative managers not only garnered critical resources to finance the transformation but were also instrumental in building enthusiasm and a shared vision of what was around the bend. Without their collective support and focused leadership, the ability to make critical changes would never have taken place. Sadly, these successful organizations represent a small minority of the opportunity. However, their success lights the path, giving more and more managers the confidence to plunge into radical reform to overhaul their lube program to achieve lubrication excellence.


About the Author

Jim Fitch, a founder and CEO of Noria Corporation, has a wealth of experience in lubrication, oil analysis, and machinery failure investigations. He has advised hundreds of companies on developing their lubrication and oil analysis programs. Contact Jim at

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