"What is the best way to show cost justification for lubricant storage and handling improvements?"

The storage and handling of lubricants marks the beginning of the life cycle of all oils and greases when they arrive onsite. Seldom done correctly, lubricant handling can have a marked effect on equipment reliability and meantime between failures.

Machines run better and with fewer failures if their lubricants are cleaner and have their additives intact. One of the best ways to guarantee that machines are receiving cleaner, better oil is to ensure that all lubricants are handled properly from the time they are delivered to the plant.

If a lubricant arrives at the facility meeting the target cleanliness requirements, then it will depend on the handling procedures and practices to make certain that the oil remains at this cleanliness level. This process must occur in a timely manner to prevent additives from settling out of solution. These additives make a big difference in the protection of the internal machine surfaces, especially in boundary lubrication conditions where metal-to-metal contact and wear are most prevalent.

A number of contamination control devices can be installed to make certain that the equipment is as sealed to the environment as possible. However, if lubricants are not clean and handled properly before they are applied to the equipment, these accessories would be installed in vain.

Another key part of lubricant handling is the labeling of lube points to confirm that the correct lubricant is being applied to each point. Cross-contamination of lubricants can be detrimental not only to the machines but also to the health of the lubricants. This issue can be solved by proper labeling, color-coding of lubrication devices and procuring equipment that can be designated for a specific lubricant.

According to a study by the German Steel Industry Association, as many as 43 percent of machine failures can be attributed to the incorrect use and selection of lubricants. This number can quickly add up to large amounts of money if not kept in check.

One way to reduce this percentage is by improving your current lubricant storage and handling practices. If you can ensure that the correct lubricant is applied and it is clean and healthy, then the cost savings will be evident by the increased equipment reliability. This, in turn, will hopefully make an impact on the facility's bottom line, allowing it to run longer with less downtime.