As proponents of clean oil management and handling practices, we at Noria caution against the use of many of the most common types of top-up containers. Maintenance and operations personnel frequently use small-volume containers to expedite the top-up process. Rinsed milk jugs or other types of plastic containers, or even open-topped coffee cans with makeshift spouts bent into them are sometimes used to deliver oil to a machine. Better, although not ideal, are purpose-built small-volume containers, such as metal oilcans. Typically, these are not totally sealed in the spout area, allowing dirt, moisture and other contaminants to intrude over time. Some of these containers are manufactured from galvanized metal, which reacts with certain lubricants or can even contribute metallic particulates to the lubricating fluid.

While Noria also recommends that these containers be stored in weatherproof storage facilities, my experience has shown that this is not necessarily a common practice. As a matter of convenience, they are often left in close proximity to the equipment they service.

I remember finding one of the very best top-up containers outdoors on a process unit with no overhead cover and beside a turbine venting wet steam. Apparently, this container had been there some time with its closeable spout left open. Whether it resulted from a lack of training, inattention to detail or simple laziness the result was the same: the oil was contaminated in spite of the most careful program design effort in this area. Even the best intentions and the best equipment sometimes are not enough to prevent contamination.

If careful attention is not paid to the manner in which these containers are used, then why spend money to improve the program? Technicians should be trained on the importance of proper lubricant handling.

Submitted by Adam Davis, Noria Corporation